LIKE California wildfires razing everything in their path, scorching scandals have leaped from Hollywood to Washington, searing prominent members of the three branches of government from the White House to the Congress and the Supreme Court.
Some former top aides of US President Donald Trump under investigation on security issues have pled guilty. A number of other officials, as also top TV and Hollywood personalities, have chosen to resign rather than engage in a full-blown fight over accusations of sexual misconduct.
This willingness to resign, impliedly conceding a certain degree of guilt — and to give up a powerful position at a time when it is most needed – is the last option that a Filipino politician embroiled in a sex scandal is likely to take.
It is “kapit-tuko” (clinging like a gecko) for most officials who have tasted the heady wine of power and wealth, whatever be the source(s) of these opioids.
Filipino officials bursting with self-importance must think their American counterparts are made of marshmallow to concede so easily when cornered. The difference in their behavioral pattern may be a quirk of culture or character.
The first impulse of the “smart” Pinoy is to deny whatever wrongdoing is being alleged against him, whether true or not, and look for the lusot (proof of innocence) later. The first impulse is to “deny to death.” If he cannot find a way out, he will build or buy one.
• Franken a bad example for Pinoys
MINNESOTA Sen. Al Franken (D) said sorry after a radio talk show host accused him of forcibly kissing her in 2006 – two years before his election to the Senate – and for posing for a picture of him groping her breasts as she slept.
Although he did not confess to any sexual crime in a carefully crafted statement, Franken announced Thursday he would resign soon – an act of total surrender that a Filipino politician caught in such a “minor” conflict will never consider.
In da Pilipins, many powerful males are likely to gloss over sexual impropriety and may even flaunt it as a badge of machismo. Raising it to the next level, some officials regale their audiences with tales of their sexual prowess spiced with curses and off-color jokes.
Pushing it to the hilt, some aberrant officials shamelessly finance their faux families with funds filched from public funds and, feeling confident, proceed to assign their mistresses official functions.
A few polygamous officials seek legal cover by conveniently converting to Islam or claiming Muslim ancestry. Some lawmakers keeping multiple partners mollify their insecure mistresses by making a big show of pushing legislation for divorce or making annulment of marriage easier.
The wanton disregard for morality and law – including the Commandment “Thou shalt not covet their neighbor’s wife” – helps deaden the public’s disapproval of immoral conduct, including officials’ tapping public funds and proceeds of corruption to finance their indiscretions.
• Trump taped bragging of sex antics
PRESSURED by party mates in the US Senate, plus the surfacing of more women accusing him of sexual misconduct, Franken announced his resignation, but did not admit his guilt: “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.”
He took the occasion to hit back at high-profile Republicans — President Donald Trump and Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama – saying:
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate, with the full support of his party.”
A videotape that surfaced during the 2015 US presidential campaign, had Trump bragging about kissing and touching women. He dismissed his remarks as “locker room talk” for which he never apologized. At least 12 women accused him of past sexual advances and groping.
Moore, 70, is running for the Senate in a special election in Alabama on Tuesday. He has been accused by several women of sexual assault or misconduct when they were teenagers. He denied the accusations. Although party mates frown on his running, Trump supports him to firm up Republican hold on the Senate.
Elsewhere, Democrat Rep. John Conyers, the longest serving congressman, resigned Tuesday also on accusations of sexual misconduct, although he has denied the allegations.
• Cordial Duterte-CBCP ties seen
TODAY being the Sunday after the Dec. 8 feast of the Immaculate Conception, we refer to The Manila Times column of Ricardo Saludo looking forward to improved relations between President Duterte and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Most people may not have noticed that a family friend of Duterte, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles took over on Dec. 1 as CBCP president from Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. The transition looked to us like Trump’s succeeding Barack Obama, a pet peeve of Duterte.
Saludo suggested that both presidents consecrate the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an act that may help unite the nation and lead it to peace and prosperity. Such a transformation is possible if state and Church leaders work on it.
The President’s daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, has consecrated the city to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.