At long last, the Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to file plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla in connection with the pork barrel scam–click the links below this paragraph to read the plunder complaints against Tanda, Sexy and Pogi. Most of us already know that most politicians are plundering our coffers right under our noses. The phenomenon is so pervasive, the entire citizenry appears to have been coerced into some type of hopeless, helpless and hapless tolerance of this fundamental evil–which should, in fact, be fought and eradicated with all the vigor and might of all sectors of society.
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In the essay entitled, “Screw the Lapdogs and Out with the Big Fish”, President Manuel L. Quezon gets away with it. His close friend and a political heavyweight of his time, Felipe Buencamino Jr., took the rap for the failed Philippine Railway Company bond redemption scam, which had the blessing (albeit behind-the-scenes) of Quezon himself. Buencamino served his time at a US Federal Penitentiary and returned home a political pariah, while Quezon is ennobled in history as the “Father of the Philippine Republic”–an absolute travesty of justice.
On February 28, 2014, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) turned 28. In the span of 28 years, it has recovered P167.5 billion (~US$4 billion) worth of ill-gotten wealth attributed to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. At the outset of the PCGG (that’s 28 years ago in 1986), the first chair of the PCGG, ex-senator Jovito Salonga, estimated the amount of wealth stolen by the Marcos family members, relatives and cronies to be in the realm of US$5 to US$10 billion. Assuming for conservatism that the PCGG recovered all US$4 billion on Day 1 (28 years ago), then the remaining US$1 to US$6 billion (per Salonga’s estimate then), compounded annually at a similarly conservative rate of 5 percent, would be US$3.9 to US$23.5 billion today (2014), which are still in the hands of Marcos family members and cronies–read “The Recovery of Marcos Loot – A National Imperative!”. In spite of the foregoing, neither Imelda nor any of her children, who (a) are guilty of plunder, (b) continue to vigorously defend their plunder and (c) continue to benefit tremendously from such plunder, has been executed for plunder. After all, their plundering occurred when plunder was a capital offense punishable by the death penalty–another travesty of justice with some consuelo de bobo to the tune of US$4 billion ill-gotten wealth recovered to date.
On September 12, 2007, the Sandiganbayan sentenced Erap, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of plunder defined in and penalized by Republic Act 7080 as amended (“The Plunder Law”). For the first time in Philippine history, a Big Fish (no less than the President himself) is convicted but not without severe convolutions and grave compromises. Originally, the Plunder Law provided a penalty of life imprisonment with perpetual absolute disqualification from holding any public office. Subsequently, Republic Act 7659 (“The Death Penalty Law”) increased the imposable penalty of plunder to death. Why then is Erap alive and kicking, and, no less, the Mayor of the City of Manila? Furthermore, he is devoid of any remorse for his crimes (Flaminiano–may he rot in eternal damnation–had the temerity to compare the conviction of Erap to the conviction of Jesus Christ) and insults the intelligence of the Filipino by vehemently maintaining his innocence to this day, in spite of his own admission that a pardon (which he conveniently pounced-on at the first opportunity) is an admission of guilt. Finally, it’s bad enough that Erap’s co-accused, Jinggoy Estrada and Edward Serapio, got away scot free (as if the Sandiganbayan felt the need to lighten the blow of Erap’s conviction), why was JV Ejercito not punished when the court clearly established that JV participated with his father’s commission of plunder (i.e., seven checks containing the sum of P182.76 million were traced to an Urban Bank account of then San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito–now Senator JV Ejercito–and deemeed solid pieces of evidence of Erap’s ownership of the Jose Velarde account) and such participation is punishable under the Plunder Law? Yes, we got a conviction. At least we got one thing right. It’s on record for all the generations of Filipinos. However, we lost the Death Penalty. We witnessed a mockery of such conviction with a pardon that should never have been granted, least of all by the person who granted it–read “The Three Kings of the United Nationalist Alliance”. The convict, the co-accused, among others who should have been punished, got away with it. Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine a more perverted conspiracy of events surrounding Erap’s conviction that leaves an empty plate of justice at the table of every Filipino family.
On October 3, 2013, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and some of her cabinet officials were charged with plunder by the Department of Justice over the alleged misuse of the Malampaya Fund. Also included as respondents were alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, Janet Lim-Napoles, and political liason, Ruby Tuason. Aside from this recent plunder case, Arroyo is facing 3 other cases in court; namely, (a) an electoral sabotage case filed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in 2011 (for which she was detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center or VMCC from November 2011 to July 2012); she was accused, together with former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol, (b) a graft case filed by the Ombudsman in 2011, in relation to her alleged involvement in the botched National Broadband Network (NBN)-ZTE deal; her husband, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, and former transportation and communications secretary, Leandro Mendoza, were also named as respondents, and (c) a plunder case filed by the Ombudsman in 2012, in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds (for which she has been placed under hospital arrest at the VMCC since October 2012); former PCSO and Commission on Audit (COA) officials were likewise charged. So far, so good. The question is, when will she finally be convicted of plunder and assuredly locked-up for the rest of her life? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata (i.e., wait for the next chapter).
The plunder charges against Tanda, Sexy and Pogi are at a much earlier stage compared to the plunder charges against Arroyo. It’s also a waiting game, which the accused are poised to delay in the guise of due process. Let’s hope our Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan stay the course and expedite the imprisonment and the conviction of these scoundrels. I am likewise depending on Jinggoy to squeal on his colleagues as he comes crashing down his arrogant pulpit, while the bastard rival savors each excruciating phase of his half-brother’s destruction (i.e., while pretending to feel sorry for the same, at least while their father is still alive). Finally, let us be vigilant that the next president does not make a mockery of the justice we deserve–the way the former president Gloria Macapacal Arroyo orchestrated the elimination of the death penalty and the pardon of Erap for her own political survival and the way Binay will surely pardon Tanda, Sexy, Pogi and even Arroyo for national reconciliation, humanitarian reasons, etc., etc., etc. as soon as he is elected President of the Republic of the Philippines. This raises the question, are we ever going get any justice in this Country?