MonthJanuary 2016

The Enrile legacy?

The Enrile legacy?” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sept. 6, 2013 (Pilipino version: “Ang pamana ni Senador Juan Ponce Enrile?“)

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) achieved a moment of historical redemption for his role in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. A short one. He overreached by trying to rewrite history in his autobiography, which only underlined his complicity in the martial law regime.

Entanglement in the pork barrel scam (PBS) poses an even more devastating blow to his reputation. After weeks of silence, he denied involvement in the PBS at a press conference on Aug. 23 and, according to the media, declared his willingness to be investigated and prosecuted, “if only to clear my name.”

This posture contrasts favorably with the initial statements made by Sen. Bong Revilla, who dismissed the charges against him as politically inspired, and by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who disclaimed responsibility for monitoring the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund. JPE has a longer, more prominent, political record to protect and, at 89, fewer opportunities to overcome any further damage to his image.

We should all understand and appreciate, therefore, his overriding concern for how he will be remembered: “If I were to choose something of value to leave to my family when I depart from this world, I would choose to leave honor and a good name, nothing else.”  How can JPE achieve this admirable goal?

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

The Duterte Dilemma

The Duterte Dilemma” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Jan. 2, 2016 (Pilipino version: “Ang Dilemang Duterte“)

I remember first reading the story in Tagalog, probably in Pilipino Komiks. A colony of fiercely independent frogs fought bitterly among themselves because no one was willing to give way to another. Unable to agree on anything, the colony could not progress. Finally, they appealed to Bathala to send them a leader to establish law and order and consensus. Bathala responded by sending them a log.

Initially impressed by the size and weight of the log, the frogs later discovered that it was also inert and incapable of controlling conflict and violence. They pleaded with Bathala to send them a more decisive leader. Bathala sent them a crocodile, which quickly imposed consensus by eating those who disagreed with its decrees. The frogs rushed back to Bathala, begging him to recall the crocodile. But Bathala made them live with what they had prayed for.

This tale came from the collection of fables attributed to Aesop, a Greek storyteller of the seventh century BC, who used them to teach moral lessons. The fable of the crocodile king acknowledged that, without a leader, unbridled individualism can block a community’s progress and prosperity. But submitting to a leader without regard for individual autonomy risked the loss of rights and lives.

Since Aesop’s time, humanity has been trying to learn the right balance between individual autonomy and social order. The issue confronts us again.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

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