Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tony Boy Cojuangco as coup plotter? Are our politicos cuckoos?

The Philippine STAR 07/24/2006

Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman.– Hungarian Jewish billionaire activist George Soros
If billionaire ABC-5 and Philippine Bank of Commerce boss Antonio "Tony Boy" Cojuangco were in showbiz like his girlfriend Gretchen Barretto, this writer would have suspected ex-ambassador Roy Señeres of being his clever PR guy for namedropping him as one of the alleged financiers of an alleged coup plot by West Point-trained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim.
What better way to make this Ateneo and Stanford MBA graduate look more macho in public than to claim that he's a swashbuckling supporter of idealistic military rebels? Something like a modern-day Zorro who acts as a rich scion by day and a secret rebel blasting away at corrupt government officials by night?
It's unfair and downright ridiculous for Cojuangco's name to be dragged into controversy by Señeres and by politicians like Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez (who seems to be exceptionally talented at making scandalous statements to grab news headlines and who coincidentally was once a former lawyer of Regal Films' Mother Lily Monteverde).
In a democratic and civilized society, it is elementary for all lawyers like Justice Gonzalez to know that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Remember, Jose Rizal was unjustly executed as a "rebel" by the Spanish colonial regime, when he was just an advocate of radical reforms and an outspoken critic of corruption, not a leader or supporter of bloody revolution.
I propose that all those moronic loudmouths in politics who use media to besmirch the reputation of businessmen or threaten them be burned at the stake and turned into fertilizer.
Recent headline news of alleged subversive activities by ex-President Cory Aquino's nephew, Antonio "Tony Boy" Cojuangco, and the late Ayala Group boss Enrique Zobel's son Iñigo Zobel are disturbing because of the possible political witch-hunt that will follow in the business community. What does the usually quiet Iñigo Zobel have to gain by financing a coup, when the only times we hear about him nowadays seem to be in polo games news and in society pages?
I think the real problem is that we have too many politicians who are actually paranoid cuckoos! Our big business VIPs are not into coup plot ventures because they have too many businesses at stake.
Philippine history is full of accidental heroes and even fake heroes. Not a few Spanish and Chinese mestizos claim glory for their ancestors' supposed subversive support of the Philippine revolution or that they were jailed by the Spanish regime. In reality, they were actually fence sitters implicated by angry Katipunero rebels in fake documents to avenge these elites who didn’t give financial and other support to their cause. It’s not only our politicians who are misinformed, but also our distorted history books.
Witch-Hunts And Reforms
Political witch-hunts victimizing businessmen should stop if we are to promote a healthy public debate on national issues and true democracy. What would happen to business leaders who wish to legally and legitimately support non-conventional political or social advocacies if politicians are allowed to libel them based on flimsy, unverified and unintelligent intelligence reports? The biggest stumbling block to Philippine progress is corrupt and stupid politics, so all sectors – including business – should push sweeping and fundamental reforms in politics. Dagupan City's award-winning young mayor and Magic shopping malls tycoon Benjamin "Benjie" Lim recently spoke at the monthly "Anvil Exchange Forum" of the Anvil Business Club in Greenhills, San Juan. In his three-hour talk and freewheeling open forum on entrepreneurship and politics, he urged the generally apolitical young Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs to actively help elect good leaders for our republic. He also challenged the best among them to go into politics and start reforms. Lim surprised the audience with his candid criticism of our political leaders, saying that he was the seventh congressman to sign the anti-Estrada impeachment complaint and is also one of the few Lakas-NUCD politicos to openly criticize President Arroyo now.
For years, I have advocated that the overseas Chinese entrepreneurs of Asia emulate the Jewish entrepreneurs of the West and go beyond business to be social entrepreneurs, agents of reform and even subversives. Dr. Sun Yat Sen hailed the hua chiao or overseas Chinese diaspora as "the mother of the Chinese revolution" which overthrew the corrupt Manchu regime of the Ching Dynasty in 1911. Instead of trying to assimilate into the political and social elite, we should be like the Jewish minorities in America and Europe who defy the undesirable status quo and champion reforms to change their adopted nations.
As outsiders who retain our cultures and thus have more objective points of view of our adopted nations, and having had suffered persecutions, we the Chinese minorities of the East and the Jewish minorities of the West can empathize more with the marginalized masses. We should be critical, rebellious and not just passively accept the status quo. An example is Hungarian Jewish Holocaust, survivor billionaire activist George Soros. Though I don't agree with all his views, I admire his guts and fiery social idealism.
Decried as a trouble-maker by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, former Slovakia Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Malaysian ex-Premier Mahathir, George Soros once said: "It's more difficult, you know, to bring about positive change than it is to make money. It's much easier to make money because it's a much easier way to measure success – the bottom line. When it comes to social consequences, they've got all different people acting in different ways, very difficult to even have a proper criterion of success. So, it's a difficult task. Why not use an entrepreneurial, rather than a bureaucratic, approach? As long as people genuinely care for the people they're trying to help, they can actually do a lot of good."
The 18th century British statesman of Irish descent Edmund Burke once forewarned: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
With the current sad state of the nation, I urge entrepreneurs and all sectors to fight for truth, good governance and bold, comprehensive reforms that will change the destiny of this republic.
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