Making A Difference

by Juan L. Mercado


“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man,” former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote.”  But if you want anything done, ask a woman.”

That explains the cheering after President  Benigno Aquino appointed Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca to the Commission on Elections.  Padaca, who hobbles on crutches due to childhood polio, could oversee a  vital program to register persons with disabilities for  2013 elections, Comelec chair  Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in welcome.

As Isabela province governor, the 49-year old Padaca, uprooted corrosive political dynasties. She won the Ramon  Magsaysay Foundation ( RMAF)  award  for government service in 2008.

Padaca  “paid off two-thirds of the province’s huge debts,” RMAF’s citation recalls.  She scrapped  a “bankrupt medical scheme for a sounder government-backed plan (and) helped rice and corn farmers.  (She)  “empowered voters to reclaim their democratic right to elect leaders of their own choosing.”

“Trashed” politicians continue harassment suits against  Padaca. “As usual, there is an idiot behind every great woman,” John Lennon once snapped. Will Padaca join Filipinas of “burnished steel”?  That  includes Gabriela Silang, executed in 1763 for rebelling against colonizers to “housewife”  Corazon Aquino who sent a dictator packing.

“Women are good for the bedroom”, Ferdinand Marcos sneered when told  that Cory reluctantly agreed to a draft.  “Walang alam yan.” Cory snapped  back.  “True. I don’t know how to steal, cheat, lie or murder.”

“People Power” installed her as 14th and first woman president. She reestablished constitutional government, served with integrity, oversaw peaceful  transition of power and returned to her modest Times Street home.

Aside from other honors, Cory won the 1999 Magsaysay Award. In contrast,  Marcos war medals  were bogus, revealed  a New York Times series based on US National Archives records. Aquino  is a revered icon.  Marcos corpse moulders in a  mausoleum as  heirs  badger for denied Libingan Ng Mga Bayani honors.

Tiene cojones, people  said of Cecilia Munoz Palma.  “She has balls.” The  first woman Supreme Court justice flayed the farcical “Citizens Assemblies”. She dissented when male colleagues allowed Marcos to propose amendments to the Constitution by himself.

“I was a foot away” when President Joseph Estrada signed papers for a P500-million loan as “Jose Velarde,”  the poised bank vice-president Clarissa Ocampo testified at the impeachment  trial.  “I refused to certify it.” That helped trigger People Power Two.

Ocampo received threats  but  never buckled.  “Remember, Ginger Rogers,” a fan suggests. “She did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards —  and in high heels”.

The late Haydee Yorac won the Magsaysay. Award in 2004.  As peace negotiator, then elections commissioner, she showed  that “the sole and only nobility is integrity.  Under her watch, the Presidential Commission on Good Government retrieved from Marcos Swiss bank accounts US$683 million. She was instrumental in crafting key court decisions favorable to small farmers over the coconut levy.

“From her sickbed, Yorac knows she will not complete the task herself,” RMAF noted before her death. “Others will rise to it.  No one is indispensable,”  Yorac reminds us all.  Making a difference is enough.”                             

Today, strong women, who challenge perverted leaders and institutions, still make a difference.

As Supreme Court justice, Conchita Carpio-Morales penned the 8-7 decision that junked  the  memo of agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front on ancestral domain. The process was “furtive”.  The draft exceeded  legal authority (and is) whimsical, capricious, oppressive.”

The Arroyo Court allowed Eduardo Cojuangco to dip into levies, extorted from indigent coconut farmers, and pocket 16.2 million San Miguel Corp. shares  “the biggest joke (of) the century”.  Impeachment of Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona hinged on now Ombudsman Carpio-Morales analysis of Statements of Assets and  Liabilities.

It’s been 18 months since Heidi Mendoza was appointed as COA commissioner.  Why is this 22-year veteran auditor with a spotless record “still unconfirmed?” asked Solita Monsod in her Inquirer column.

Mendoza  quit  a cushy Asian Development Bank job to testify on her ignored report of plunder in AFP Comptroller’s Office. Today, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, is in prison.  President Aquino, expressed public appreciation, by asking Mendoza to return to COA.

“It is an open secret  the one responsible for this situation is Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s camp,” Monsod said. They’ve never forgiven Mendoza who ferreted  scams in Makati City.  She led the team that audited 2000 and 2001 contracts for Makati office partitions and furniture.

Example of findings.   Award for purchase of  furniture was made on Sept 15.  But the date of supposed bidding was two days later, i.e.  Sept. 17.  If the Binay camp thinks Mendoza will fold, guess again. Tiene cojones.

Mendoza is not alone in the Commission on Appointments freezer.  DILG secretary Jesse Robredo (2012 Magsaysay Awardee) went to his grave with confirmation snarled by Camarines Sur politicians.

CA clones what Alibaba called a “den of 40 thieves”.  Mendoza and Padaca will find integrity and competence mean nothing, as did Robredo before them.  Concessions is the only language spoken there.

What  strike fears into “valiant women?” Margaret Thatcher says “being in an elevator with three political foes — and having only one handbag to whack them with.”


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