The corrupt rich: Why people who are better off leaving stick around

Considering that even Panfilo Lacson, a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, felt that he was better off running than subjecting himself to the whimsical world of the “justice” system of the Philippines, I wonder how dumb Jose Barredo needed to be to think he could play whistle-blower and come out a winner? Barredo, a Php10,000-a-month “runner” and “just an employee” caught in the middle of a scam involving the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds for the 2004 election campaign of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now finds himself implicated in this scam and is in the process of being charged with plunder by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Perhaps, like another sucker like him did a short time ago, Barredo should get himself a contingent of nuns to escort his every step while he parades around town soliciting public sympathy for his “cause”.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Poor sod. That’s the thing about Philippine society. The wrong arguments win and the “good guys” usually lose. Not that I have decided that Jose Barredo is one of the “good guys” (or Senator Lacson for that matter), but the bigger point to highlight here is the utter lack of any clear channel where anything even remotely offering a source-of-Truth can be found in Philippine society.

Perhaps that is where the strength of organised religion in this backward country comes from. So devoid of any ethic for systematic truth finding is Filipino culture (an observation consistent with another observation — our lack of any track record of world-class achievement in the sciences) that Filipinos are forced to rely on belief systems that promise everything in death and nothing in life using thoroughly un-systematic frameworks to hold that pitch up.

So yes: “justice” and “system”. Put the two together and add them to a sentence containing the word “Philippine” and, guess what: you get an oxymoron.

Considering that this is the case, I wonder then why Barredo did not simply make his peace with his Lord through one of those robed “confessors” who hang out in little wooden enclosures all day and then just go off to some paradise overseas to enjoy his take from the scam (if he is in fact guilty of partaking of a bit of it). Penitents do it all the time, after all — do the wild thing all year, engage in a bit of Holy Week ritualised “reflection”, come out of all that feeling like Mother Theresa, then go back to the old lifestyle ’til the next Easter Holiday rolls over.

If the Philippines were a person, it’d be profiled like one of those “feeder” types — gluttons for punishment who keep coming back for more. These are the types of people who have the same level of self esteem as a doormat. They get walked all over by “friends”, get beaten up by spouses, get strung out for years by on-and-off “lovers”, are routinely suckered by fortune tellers, and are prime recruitment targets of fundamentalists and terrorist organisations.

Their tormentors are relativist “winners” — people who get their fix for feeling like a million bucks by hanging out with losers: opportunistic “friends”, abusive spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends with “commitment issues”, not to mention fortune tellers, fundamentalists, and terrorist organisations.

So now consider that subset of rich folk in the Philippines who acquired their wealth through crooked means. Why do they continue to hang around? I suppose it could be because they feel like the proverbial wife-beater. Even after having abused their wife repeatedly, they simply cannot find any other place in the world where they could feel as powerful as they do in the little dysfunctional households they head. That of course is a concept that is alien to most normal people — how does one continue living with someone they had stopped respecting a long time ago? It boggles the mind.

So Barredo is a curious case either way. If he does happen to be guilty of all he is being accused of by the Ombudsman, then he somehow was a big enough sucker to hang around in a country he had stolen from. If Barredo, on the other hand, is not guilty, why be a “whistle-blower”? He should have studied recent Philippine History first — a history that abounds in lessons for all wannabe whistleblowers. Indeed, even in relatively just countries in the prosperous world, whistleblowers hardly ever get a fair deal.

It’s just not worth it.

Particularly, not for a people who simply do not see their prospects for prosperity as something they are personally responsible for. For that matter, is the Philippines worth dying for? Barredo might just die (in the metaphysical sense and, ok, perhaps literally) finding out.

5 Replies to “The corrupt rich: Why people who are better off leaving stick around”

  1. Nice article. Yes, I agree. Though we know something, we cannot just blurt it around and not think of the consequences. It’s like what happened to Assange in Wikileaks.

    In my opinion, he is downright stupid for what he did. Did he even thought that if he reveals such information to the public there could spark a war between nations? He could have killed millions or even billions for what he did. What a stupid guy.

    Good thing the leaders of other powerful countries are understanding. They knew what he did will cause a lot of problems.

    Same thing here in the Philippines. Yes, you knew something about the government, but that does not mean you should reveal it. Think about it, you’ll just make things worse or maybe even spark a civil war like what happened to Libya.

    Secrets are secrets, there are times that you really need to reveal the truth but if you’re information can cause millions of deaths then might as well sit down and shut the hell up.

  2. Power is the golden currency of the Philippines. The peso is just paper money. Ego is the culture. Right and wrong are determined not by laws, which are intended to assure the well-being of the community, but by self-advantage. Conscience does not come into play at all. Church is a way to fake the neighbors into thinking there is some good in that rotten Ego-infested soul. The Egos here believe they can fake out God, that’s how huge they are.

    Superb article.

    1. Thanks Joe. You’re spot on. Religion in the Philippines is one of the gases that helps keep the Filipino ego inflated. Ask a Filipino if he/she knows the difference between religiosity and spirituality and you’ll probably get 9 out of 10 of them scratching their heads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.