Crime does not pay in the Philippines – or so Filipinos would like to think

With Senator Jinggoy Estrada now on his way to the slammer, it’s two down, one to go. That’s right, Filipinos are keeping score. With glee. They see the imprisonment of Estrada along with Senator Bong Revilla and soon, presumably, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as vindication that, indeed, crime does not pay.

The three Senators are the first of what is hoped to be a series of high-profile arrests for offenses related to the vast decades-long institutionalised ‘malversation’ of pork barrel funds channeled through bogus non-government organisations (NGOs) associated with alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. The whistleblowing and subsequent witchhunt is long overdue and unprecedented in scale as hundreds of millions of pesos in unaccounted-for funds have been identified as having been stolen.

Philippines Corruption

But this “scandal” (as if the Philippines hasn’t been scandal embodied since ‘independence’) is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Add to what I mentioned earlier (that pork barrel thievery has been a decades-long Filipino tradition) the fact that Napoles is just one of what could be hundreds other conduits for stolen pork barrel funds. Lucky for the other pork barrel brokers, the Philippines’ mainstream media and its clique of “activists” both online and offline have made Napoles the central figure in this circus all but distracting Filipinos from the bigger picture and further silhouetting all these other shady figures against the dazzle of Napoles’s celebrity.

On that note, we now then revisit the old cliche again:

Does crime pay?

Answering that question now becomes a bit trickier knowing that there are still a lot of unknowns out there. We don’t know, for example, how many more Napoleses are out there. We don’t know how many more senators and House representatives are squirreling away their pork through other channels. Don’t know how many NGOs “benefiting” from pork are in conflicts-of-interest-riddled relationships with their benefactors in government. Don’t know exactly how culpable the Budget Secretary and, yes, even the President is in this whole mess. Don’t know if even funds used legitimately are optimally spent.

In short;

We don’t know how many people get away with crime vis-à-vis those who are caught or exposed.

So for us to be crowing out loud after seeing three measly senators behind bars that “crime does not pay” is likely to be a bit of a hasty conclusion. What percentage of all stolen pork does funds channeled through Napoles account for? That’s an easy question to answer if a scientific bottom-up audit and investigation is mounted. But that is, of course, too hard. Why do it that way when a circus is more fun?

The Philippines after all is a country where banal criminality is a strong tradition. You see Filipinos of all social classes, creeds, and faiths routinely getting away with the pettiest to the most serious crimes everyday. To the average Filipino, laws are mere recommendations. This is why the biggest body of popularly-elected representatives, Phippine Congress, has been described as the world’s biggest crime syndicate — because in a democracy, the quality of elected leaders reflect the character of the society they rule over.

Indeed, even if we manage to account for the exact figure for the vast sums of pork money stolen so far, I hazard a guess that even that figure will be dwarfed by the sum total of all the money lost to the overall scheme of Filipino criminality that has gone unpunished.

Taken from that perspective, it is easy to see why Filipinos are so fixated on the pork barrel drama — because a handful of senators behind bars serves as a personal vindication for the average Filipino who, himself, is crooked by nature in his own small petty ways. And that is why Filipinos are quick to judge. Nice guys do indeed finish last, specially in the Philippines which is home to an inherently unjust society.

[Photo courtesy AsianCorrespondent.com.]

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13 Comments on “Crime does not pay in the Philippines – or so Filipinos would like to think”

  1. Spot on! The government is as corrupt as the people are. The Philippines won’t change until the people do, which will be never.

  2. You must not be a baseball fan, it’s “two down, ONE to go” if you’re referring to Pogi, Sexy, and Tanda. But the latter will be a tougher case; unlike the other 2, the wily old man kept minions between him and others and there are no eyewitnesses to him accepting money except (possibly) his Chief of Staff. Given that and his advanced age, health, etc he will probably serve little or no jail time. JMO.

  3. That is the problem, this Aquino admin, the media, the internet activists, etc are keeping tabs on the three only. As if putting the three behind bars is the end game. Jail the three and we get rid of corruption. Good luck with that.

    Filipinos should not forget, all senators and congressmen and even the president, were all entitled to their share of the pork. Also, do not forget who authorizes these disbursements. It is also important to note where these bozos used the said funds and if it’s really worth that much or if they even have something to show for it. Only by doing this will you end up with a list of the senators and congressmen who are really doing their job, although I would opine that that list would not contain a lot of names. Those not on that list deserve to be treated just like the three, publicized and “burned at the stake”. Only then can there be a genuine “clean-up”.

    Let us not be distracted.

    1. Congressman Noynoy and Senator Noynoy got pork. Yet at 50 he was still anonymous when it was “time” to campaign for him. Talk about mommy and daddy and showbiz sis is really all their strategy was.

  4. Selective criminal persecution is now in vogue in the Philippines. The hype is there when less discerning people fail to see the patterns and agenda of the yellow administration. I saw it and I will repeat what I said before. BS Aquino is depending heavily on his black propaganda trial by publicity in trying to destroy the image of the 3 opposition senators. Watch as the rule of law disappears in favor of dark political expediency. Watch as the presumption of innocence is shot down. Watch as due process is transformed into railroading, fabrication of evidence and media hype and that all 3 senators are now pronounced guilty before trial while the less discerning swallow the BS propaganda hook, line and sinker. Yes… the less discerning shout crucify them while the Matuwid na daan mantra continues to deceive the people. The yellow administration loves to tag scapegoats and fall guys while their political friends and allies remain untouchable. I have a question… Who is the mastermind of the PDAF/DAP? Yes the yellow administration continues to look squeaky clean as the mindless mob shouts out guilty like an NPA kangaroo court. Truly ours is now a rule of evil men.

  5. OK, here we go, how long will a trial take?

    The Amputuans still have yet to stand trial. A few arressts, a couple of pics and with in a very short time…nothing.

    Viola…disappearing act only Houdini would be proud of.

    what is next, another sham tele-trial?

  6. I believe this is all “palabas”…sooner or later; these Senator/Actors will be out of jail. Crime pays in the Philippines; especially, if you are a high government official. How many elected government officials, entered offices; then end up multi-millionaires.

    I am tired of these political zarzuelas. If Aquino is arrested; for bribing these Senators. Perhaps, I would change my mind, that this is for Real…

  7. Crime pays in the Philippines.
    It pays all day long, 24/7, 365 days a year.
    Let’s not forget, it’s only illegal if you get caught and convicted. Since there is a fat chance that it wont happen if you have a fine slime ball lawyer that get’s you out on bail and drags the case out over years upon years, why not put your hand in other peoples pocket? Why not be a drug dealer? Why not go out and rob people in bright day light? It is sickening. I tell you again, this country is doomed. People do not fear the law, because there is nothing to fear. People do what ever they feel like. Unless we start with quick courts and mass executions the shit will continue to rise until it runs down our throats.

  8. Why is there no outrage about the actions within the Sandiganbayan which is trying trying to pin the PDAF scam mastermind title to Revilla insulating Napoles along the way?

    I mean, it is so obvious how Pnoy and his minions are orchestrating things. Fist he installs a lapdog in key positions and now this?

    Pnoy seems to take every filipino as an idiot.

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