February 25, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on Aug. 13, 2017)

Competence, dedication, and integrity are qualities that make for an ideal public servant, but it is connections that gets you the job.
Politicians seeking elective office brag they possess all these traits motivated by a desire to serve the country and people, punctuating their rhetoric with additional claims of being “malapit sa kalan” or the powers that be.

Since 1946, and even during the Commonwealth regime, government was dominated by University of the Philippines law graduates, the foremost of whom was Bar first placer Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
One wonders that if Marcos Sr. had not done what he did, where Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong would be today? Probably shining if not licking the boots of one Rudy Fariñas, an Ateneo Bar fourth placer.

Over the years, the Ateneo law school came into its own, and that started the fierce rivalry between the two law schools, with a UP valedictorian topping the Bar exams at one time, and an Ateneo best bet at another time.
In the meantime, the San Beda Law School is knocking at the door, hoping to penetrate the so-called exclusive circle and become part of the big 3, excluding all the others.

Before Marcos Sr., all that Philippine Military Academy alumni did was perform snappy salutes if not clicking their heels before their civilian superiors, who relished in ordering them around, to hold umbrellas and escort politicians’ wives and mistresses while the latter shop.
But when they got into the big time courtesy of Marcos Sr., PMA applicants increased tenfold – free education, a monthly allowance, and an ever undying dream that a star on their shoulders would mean wealth and power.
It is not so much the greed and abuse of power that is galling, it is the hypocrisy and arrogance, pretending to be saints while dipping their fingers into the cookie.
If crimes, illegal gambling, and drugs have proliferated, it is because the police and military did nothing to stop the deluge, instead they profited from it.

Here are specific examples, but it is up to you to gauge if it is the general trend.
A UP product is made chief of the MRT, given his close links to the Secretary of Transportation.
His task is easy enough – keep the trains running and on time.
Instead, he is accused of doing a shakedown – demanding $300,000 from a Czechoslovakian firm for him to approve the deal between the Czechs and his agency.
The case is now in court.

A PMA officer is made head of the Bureau of Customs. A drug supply worth billions escapes his attention and later on the loot is found in Valenzuela.
In the meantime, the officer is hiring movie and sports personalities as consultants.

An Ateneo law school valedictorian and Bar placer is appointed DENR secretary. The first thing that he does is to cancel all logging and mining permits.
You want a renewal? Come and see me, let’s talk about it.
I love the Atenean tulisan sophistication. “Suave” talaga. Hindi naman linalahat.

They are all over lawyers and military officers, doing quite well in their political ventures.
Two rebel officers are both orators of the land, while another was a fugitive from justice for some time.
The air smells of their presence, just like rain that will surely come once the clouds darken.
Or like howling winds before a typhoon strikes.

Two San Beda boys are appointed commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration.
Just months into their jobs, they are seen on CCTV carrying two bagfuls of money, allegedly containing P50 million each.
During a Senate investigation, they come up with an unbelievable and incredible story by way of defense.
Now, if they were graduates of our local schools, the more plausible version would be that while they were initially tempted into taking the money, it was their wives and family as well as a bothered conscience that made them do the right thing – which was to return the money to their chief – also a Bedan – who will then confirm their story. No harm, no foul.
Learn from our local politicians, imbeciles!
All lawyers and military officials are one of a kind. Your guess is as good as mine.