Migz Zubiri’s problem of image


“I appeal to the media: help us beautify the image of the Philippines.” And the Senate president is every inch correct that the image of the country before the world is bleak.

So let’s help him and give him a list of how to beautify the image of the Philippines.

1. The world thinks that the country is a killing field where killers go unpunished, including former presidents. This one is easy for the senate president – the power to approve international treaties is the senate’s. Restore the Philippine membership in the International Criminal Court and support the ICC’s eventual prosecution of Rodrigo Duterte for crimes against humanity. If it cannot even investigate Duterte’s ties to the Pharmally corruption scandal, it only means trying him before the ICC is the must judicious thing to do because you have made him an untouchable. And a practical thing we all know you can do: sign the senate report to investigate the Pharmally corruption mess and bring the guilty to jail, whoever they may be.

2. Release the prisoner of conscience Leila de Lima. Presidential vendetta was allowed to oppress critics while the senate looked the other way. Who among you spoke against it? None did, except for De Lima’s party mates. You think the world didn’t see that?

3. Bring Imelda Marcos to jail. For heaven’s sake, she has been found guilty by a court of law for seven counts of graft. There are 4,500 senior citizens currently serving their sentences in our jails. Of course, none of them are as rich and powerful as Imelda. Yes, she may be over 90 years old, but the Supreme Court had already ruled in Jose Reyes vs. People of the Philippines that “the mitigating circumstance of old age under Article 13 (2) of the Revised Penal Code applied only when the offender was over 70 years old at the time of the commission of the offense.” You know why the world frowns upon us? Because we have two sets of laws, one for the poor and another for the rich.

4. Exhume the mortal remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and bring him back to his original burial place in Batac, Ilocos Norte. He was already buried peacefully there below that catafalque with his fake wax image. Why not? Spain has done it with the exhumation of Francisco Franco’s remains from the Valle de los Caidos. It even promulgated a landmark law, the Democratic Memory Law to help locate and identify the tens of thousands who perished in the decades of repression under Franco. The law also bans glorification of the Franco dictatorship. But here what did we do? We buried the dictator in a state burial at the national cemetery for heroes.

5. End the scandalous proliferation of political dynasties. It is one of the country’s major cancers that have even metastasized down to the barangay level. Dynasties exist because of the wondrous occasions it offers to politicians to pilfer public money. When the president travels and introduces his own family before world leaders — a speaker of the house who is his first cousin (and whose wife also sits in congress), and a son who is also deputy majority floor leader of the House of Representatives, you think the world does not see the conflicts of interest? You sit in the legislature. Enact an anti-dynasty law that will go against all your vested interests, and the whole country will praise you with endless hosannas until your dying days, even without EPAL.

6. Address once and for all the miserable state of public education. We see a snapshot of its misery when we go to our polling precincts every election: dilapidated and dimly-lit classrooms, pupils’ desks where no two are alike because some school children bring their own desks to school, muddy grounds that double as children’s playgrounds. The Philippines is not a poor country if only corruption did not bleed it dry. But we have an educational system where the masses are deliberately programmed to grow up ignorant and bobo. Try to send your children Santiago, Maria Adriana and Juanmi to public schools, Mr. Senate President. I’m sure you won’t.

7. Overhaul the entire Philippine National Police to heal it from the trauma of having been recoded by Rodrigo Duterte as killers and assassins according to his despotic agenda. It will involve a colossal cleansing, perhaps even in the proportions of a Truth Commission that will ferret out all the enablers of Duterte’s extrajudicial killings. Only then will the UN Human Rights Council stop pestering you about state impunity.

8. Do everything, as state leaders with the wherewithal of the state’s coffers and political influence, to stop media repression. ABS-CBN’s franchise was withheld for reasons known to the world: because it piqued Duterte. Maria Ressa is continually being harassed because her media organization offers constructive criticism, as all media should do. And while you’re at it, cut the practice of granting franchises to fake media who cannot even report the news because they function primarily as apologists. I am referring of course to Mr. Apollo Quiboloy’s Sonshine Media Network. Speaking of Mr. Quiboloy, deliver him now to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A U.S. federal grand jury had already indicted him for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children; conspiracy; and bulk cash smuggling. A federal warrant for his arrest was issued exactly a year ago on November 10, 2021. Quiboloy is now a fugitive from justice.

9. End the practice of pork barrel and confidential funds. It is nothing but institutionalized confidential plunder and corruption. Why be afraid of Sara Duterte? Because she punches like a pugilist? Hell, she should have been in jail a long time ago. She does not belong to public service at all.

The Philippines is not on the radar screen of foreign businessmen. Why should they? Those with a P203B tax liability to the government do not pay. That is corruption. Kill that corruption and we will be the darlings of the world. When vote buying occurs even in Sangguniang Kabataan elections, you can be sure corruption has become an acute systemic malady in our country that has long made us a very sick man.

Before the world, the Philippines is almost a rogue state, thanks to the shameless corruption perpetrated by its leaders who act like criminals without being sanctioned by the law.

You see, Mr. Senate President, media is not into public relations. It does not create image. It is politicians and government leaders like you who create image. Media is not expected to clean up shit that politicians like you create. You are.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.