The Philippines: An inherently unjust society where criminals big and small get away

Injustice pervades Filipino society from head to toe. Most recent is the exceedingly tragic fate that befell 25-year-old Kae Davantes whose hog-tied remains were found last Saturday after she went missing on Friday last week. The words “a parent’s worst nightmare” in no way comes close to describing the sort of grief that one can only begin to imagine surrounds the death of someone so young.

You can almost taste the utter sense of loss and helplessness of Davantes’s family and friends in the public statements they’ve issued following the tragedy and the steps they’ve taken to …

Family and friends on Monday created a page on social networking site Facebook named “Justice for KAE.”

“Families and friends, let’s all unite. We will not stop until we find justice. #justiceforkae To our Kae, we love you so much,” the Facebook page read.

The page has gained 53,446 likes, as of posting.

Aside from expressing their sympathies to Davantes’ loved ones, some netizens called on the government to not stop until the person(s) behind her killing is put behind bars.

Some of them even demanded that the death penalty be revived after another “heinous crime” and “senseless killing.”

Dan Derayunan said, “To our police officers, I ask you to do your best, as fast as you can to bring justice to this heinous crime.”

2010 HK Hostage Massacre: Ph authorities defensive rather than resolute
2010 HK Hostage Massacre: Ph authorities defensive rather than resolute
The dark hole of grief and desperation that one can’t even begin to imagine is evident in the way calls for a reinstatement of the death penalty emerged and appeals to the police to do their job rang out.

Nothing of course will bring back Davante. But nonetheless the question remains:

In the Philippines, is there anyone in the government one can run to who could assure us that the best efforts will be taken and the latest facilities employed to get the job done?

In a lot of cases, the private sector will have to step up and fill whatever gap the public sector leaves to be desired.

In the case of the on-going effort to bring to justice all parties involved in the plunder of billions in pork barrel money, can we rely on government to do its job in finding and apprehending people found guilty of mususing public funds? Beyond anything directly-motivated by political agenda, it seems hardly. If we are to take President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III’s recent announcement on the matter at face value, the case being lodged by Malacañang relevant to this effort reportedly only points to alleged scam kingpin Janet Lim Napoles and, at the moment, leaves out-of-scope any effort directed against any government official who may have been involved in channeling illicit funds to the alleged crooks — unless of course they will be among the “at least 5 individuals” who “will be charged with plunder and malversation of public funds”. At the time that news report was filed, we did not know.

Compare the flaccid effort being mounted by Malacañang to the potential full extent of the scope of the scam. To Napoles’s attorney the case being lodged against her client is a no-brainer. Bring it on, kung baga. But she also makes the valid point…

“Tignan natin iyung COA report. There are 82 NGOs. If we are to believe the whistleblowers, [only 7 or 8 lang of the 82 are Napoles-related NGOs],” she said.

On the whistleblowers, she had this to say: “Maybe the least guilty and they appear to be the ones who personally have knowledge about the senators, the accounts, the modus operandi, I think they should be charged as well.”

Spoken too soon. The whistleblower coalition have now unveiled their legal piece de resistance. Lead counsel Levito Baligod, described the effort as one of a “private complaint” on behalf of his clients that will be submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice and it will cover not just Napoles but a whole bunch of other people implicated on the basis of the earlier Commission on Audit (CoA) report

[Baligod] identified the others facing plunder charges as Gigi Reyes, Ruby Tuason, Pauline Labayen, Richard Cambe, Jose Antonio Evangelista, Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Edgar Valdez, Prospero Pichay and Samuel Dangwa.

An Inquirer source said that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada would be included in the private complaint to be filed based on their letters of endorsement of Napoles’ dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) submitted to the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Agriculture and the documents from the Commission on Audit.

He said about 40 other government officials could face malversation charges for their involvement in the alleged racket.

“The documents we submitted will sufficiently show misuse of government funds and the amassing of illegal wealth by the private individuals,” Baligod told the Inquirer.

This may still be but a small subset of what likely remains to be a vast network of thievery the likes of which may take years to fully reveal (if that is even possible). But it is a good start.

[Photo courtesy Gulf News.]