Saturday, December 13, 2008
It was during the middle of this week that people from Illinois awoke to the news that their elected governor has been arrested and handcuffed on multiple charges that he conspired to sell his office in various opportunities - including putting a price on the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The 52 year old governor was elected twice to the position before, and on both counts vowed to reform the culture in the Springfield office that had a history of corruption with previous governors. His promises looks to be unfulfilled as after years of well-publicized federal corruption investigations, he is now being asked to resign, or threatened with impeachment.
"Impeach Blagojevich" seems to be chanted across the Illinois Senate, state offices and various Internet forums and blogs. A website called "Impeach Blagojevich" has already been set-up and is calling for Illinois citizens to "to commence a Constitutionally-authorized investigation into whether the Executive officer's conduct justifies cause for impeachment". Per the 1970 Illinois Constitution, the House of Representatives of the State of Illinois is the main authority to conduct investigations to determine the existence of cause for impeachment of the Executive and Judicial branches.
In the meantime, Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues on with his tasks capping off the week by attending to duties in his now new role of criminal defendant. He continues to rebuff calls to resign and showed no signs of backing down from his critics. He just signed a bill that extends insurance coverage for autistic kids - a clear sign that he's still the man in charge.
The current governor is just the latest to be charged with corruption in the state that prides itself with being the land of Abraham Lincoln. In the past century, four other Illinois governors have been charged or indicted of corruption charges. US News lists the following:
* George Ryan (Republican, 1999-2003)—currently serving a 6½-year sentence in federal prison for fraud
* Daniel Walker (Democrat, 1973-1977)—convicted of bank fraud after leaving office
* Otto Kerner (Democrat, 1961-1968)—convicted on 17 counts of bribery
* Lennington Small (Republican, 1921-1929)—indicted for embezzlement
Shifting focus to the Philippines, I don't recall any governor in recent years to have been charged with corruption. It doesn't mean though that corruption doesn't exist - it's just that our country still doesn't have the necessary checks and balances like what is in place in western democracies. In provincial campaigns, gubernatorial candidates are reported to spend millions in Philippine pesos to get a job that "officially" has a monthly salary of less than P50,000. The opportunity to serve the public maybe? Somehow, I'm not the only one that will raise an eyebrow on that.