Corruption is not a recent invention in Philippine politics, it actually goes back to the first Filipino republic and the commonwealth government—and even beyond.
Emilio Aguinaldo, the president during the Philippine revolution, went to challenge for the presidency in 1930’s. He lost to President Manuel L Quezon, a former staff officer in his revolutionary government, in the 1935 elections. By this time, Aguinaldo’s popularity as a leader had already dwindled considerably. The deaths of Bonifacio and Antonio Luna negatively affected his reputation.
But allegations of corruption were hurled from both camps. This sounds all too familiar. History reveals that not much has changed through the years.
Aguinaldo went public with his indictments of dishonesty against then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon. Under his “Cabaret leadership,” said the former revolutionary head, this politician acquired dubious wealth:
- 2,700 square meters of Domican friar land in San Felipe Neri, now being sold in lots
- His residence in Pasay, valued at P100,000.00
- The residence and grounds of Justico Johnson, which he recently bought for P75,000 cash
- A house bought in San Juan del Monte, valued at P40,000.00
- Fishponds in Pampanga, valued at P60,000
- Coconut hacienda and cattle ranch in Tayabas
- One third share in the Balintawak estate, worth P3,000,000 where there is talk of building a new capital
- Large tracts of land in Baler and in Infante, Tayabas, which the projected railroad will traverse
- Shares worth P50,000 in lumber mill at Calauang, and numerous shares in other companies
The Senate President would have his own dirty laundry list against his foe—the bickering between these two would continue to and fro. Until in the 1940’s, where it is said that both men had reconciled. Politics, they say, is a game of interests.
Poor Aguinaldo eventually had some of his lands foreclosed. The man he went up against, a mere staffer in his army, had risen to become the president.
Nobody gets sent to prison from stealing large sums of tax money but people who steal bread gets locked up fast. History teaches us that this condition has hardly changed at all.
Just like the contentious Rosario Estates, whispered to belong to the Vice President, and DAP, used like personal funds by some politicians, the controversies around our officials getting richer after assuming public office has been with us since time immemorial. The sad part for us is that we have grown callous to thievery and corruption in our government.