Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Good faith, bad faith

published 14 July 2014
The administration insists it acted in good faith when it came up with the Disbursement Acceleration Fund, parts of which were recently struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
According to the Palace, the billions of pesos released all went into worthy projects for the benefit of the people, so how could it be wrong?
MalacaƱang has also called on the senators who supposedly received DAP funds to account for how they spent the money. This is so that they can prove that all the benefit redounded solely to the people and that there was nobody who benefited personally from the DAP.  
This is assuming that “benefit” refers only to money. As in, money that is pocketed and deposited into bank accounts and used to fund vacations and buy luxury items.
There is however another form of benefit and it comes in the form of goodwill.  What politician would not like to be remembered fondly by his or her constituents for this or that project done for them? Remember that senators’ actual job is to craft laws. Delivering projects to the people is supposed to be another department’s job. And besides, their constituency is national—who’s to say how they were able to determine that one project in one particular town would be the best use of the money? It’s the pork barrel dilemma all over again.
The President is supposed to address the nation today about the DAP. We look forward to hearing what he has to say. We hope he won’t take the path taken by his spokespersons in the past few days. We need a President who is resolute and headstrong, but also humble and open to constructive advice if necessary. Nobody is perfect —we never expected him to be.
Good faith is a nebulous concept that can be invoked by anyone. There is no scientific way to prove or disprove it, like the way you would use DNA evidence to link a suspect to a crime. Good faith works because it assumes every person is inherently good and not evil. But the claim of good faith will stand or fail depending on the person who makes it. What do his previous and subsequent actions say? What don’t they?
* * *
And now for some of the opposite.
We Filipinos are not strangers to detained personalities claiming they are sick and need medical attention. We remember well the images of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Chief Justice Renato Corona on a wheelchair. And then, Janet Lim Napoles said she was sick, too. In fact, she had to be brought from her detention facility in Santa Rosa, Laguna to a Manila hospital for observation and eventual surgery.
And now we have Gigi Reyes, still one of the accused in the pork barrel scam, staying first at a Taguig hospital and then being transferred to the Philippine Heart Center after experiencing an anxiety attack. She supposedly vomited and lost consciousness shortly upon her transfer to the Taguig jail last week. Reports said it was the prospect of sharing a jail cell with suspected communists that drove her to her condition. Other accounts have it that she had been suffering from other ailments prior to her incarceration. She would not eat.
Her former boss, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, is also at hospital for the complications of old age (he is 90). Doctors have been instructed to express opinion on whether he truly needs hospital arrest.
There should be no issue with providing detainees all the medical attention they need. We are, after all, a humane society. A person’s detention does not strip him or her of the right to health. But these hospitalization issues strike an angry chord among our people because we see and we know that such basic right is not made available to all other detainees. Thus, it becomes a class thing—those who are rich and powerful get by, while those who are not suffer in silence.
There was for instance a woman who was arrested while pregnant and was denied pre-natal care while in jail. Right before giving birth, she started experiencing pregnancy-related problems but was not brought to the hospital soon enough. Her baby lived only a few days—her photo holding the small corpse was just too heartbreaking. She was also only given a few hours to attend the baby’s wake.
But that was Andrea Rosal, the daughter of New People’s Army spokesman “Ka Roger” Rosal. (Kidnapping and murder charges against her had since been dismissed by a Pasig Court.) At least we got to know her story. What about thousands of others who may have died or seen their illnesses worsen just because they don’t have any clout at all to ask for medical attention? Others who live and get sick and die without anybody knowing about how they suffered, whose stories we don’t even hear?
It’s the inequality here that screams “bad faith.”

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