Murderous senators? That, according to Senator Miriam Santiago, is what alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles should really be worried about. Napoles told: Talk or die, screams the Inquirer.net headline. You wonder if this is a scene in the police interrogation room from an old 1970’s police drama, before the suspect “lawyer’s up”, except that this is the Philippine Senate.
People ask, what is the point of this Senate “inquiry”? Filipinos have been asking that question since 1987 when the Philippine Senate was first re-convened after a couple of decades of Senate-less government under former President Ferdinand Marcos. Specifically, why do big-time suspected crooks like Napoles have to face such “inquiries” when such exercises do not lead to any punitive actions against the objects of these inquiries? Well, it is because meting out justice is not the goal of such inquiries. These “inquiries” are really supposed to be conducted in the aid of legislation. In short, the outcome of the grilling copped by Napoles in the hands of these senators should come in the form of improved laws relevant to the matter taken up.
Santiago’s grilling of Napoles is case-in-point. All we really got out of this circus is a demonstration of its pointlessness beyond serving as a venue for politicians to grandstand and field innuendoes against rival politicians. What legislation does all this aid and what possible improvements in the law do these songs-and-dances reveal? Nothing new. Much of the principles at stake in the debate surrounding pork barrel thievery that the Napoles imbroglio had brought to the spotlight again are pretty much obvious. The opportunities to improve the laws have long been known. The trouble is that those who have the power to implement these improvements profit mightily from the status quo.
Even the purported threats against Napoles’s life are starting to seem ludicrous. Seasoned politicians are, by now, quite familiar with the renowned collective amnesia of Filipinos. All they need to do is shut up and lie low, perhaps disappear for a while or act inconspicuously (as in do their job quietly). Eventually the “issue” will simply go away. Indeed, Christmas is fast approaching. Filipinos will come out of that long-awaited Fiesta season heady with lambanog and minds numbed from their society’s intractable politics, buying a bit of time for our politicians to wipe the scandal off their Teflon images.
What? Napoles worry? Killing her is not worth the trouble. Even if she implicates every Senator and his or her dog, politicians routinely come back from even the deadest political death. Ask former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada who was convicted for plunder in 2007. He is now Mayor of Manila. Or take, “senator” Antonio Trillanes IV who was jailed for a total seven years over various acts of rebellion he allegedly perpetrated between 2003 and 2007. He is now a Philippine “senator” and served as “senator-judge” no less in the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
Imagine that. A convicted plundered became Manila Mayor and a jailed rebel leader sat as “judge” in the impeachment of a Supreme Court Chief Justice.
What a country.
Janet Lim Napoles need not worry. Only idiots like Andal Ampatuan kill their political opponents. Suffice to say, the people she could implicate if she squeals are a lot classier than those sorts. And they know their forgetful and forgiving constituents quite well.
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