Filipino citizenry needs vigilance in a long road to justice
Proofs of Transparency
SENATOR Bong Revilla was arrested June 20 on charges of plunder and graft in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam that had been rocking the Philippine political system since July last year.
Revilla was the first senator to be arrested since the Ombudsman indicted 54 people, including two other senators, in the Sandiganbayan on June 6 over the large-scale diversion of allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into ghost projects of bogus nongovernment organizations…
Expected to be arrested … are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, who were also indicted for plunder and graft for allegedly pocketing tens of millions of pesos in kickbacks from their pork barrel projects.
Revilla is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft; Enrile, one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft; and Estrada, one count of plunder and 11 counts of graft.
The three are the first senators to be indicted for criminal charges involving corruption in the Senate's history…
Their arrest provided an ironic turn in Philippine politics, as the crackdown on official corruption was carried out by an administration that came to office on an anticorruption platform...
Administration officials claim that the plunder and graft charges brought against the legislators and agency heads and employees involved in the pork barrel scam are proofs of the transparency and honesty of the Aquino administration.
The senators will be tried without the immunities and protection of the Senate, whose prestige and power have been diminished by the involvement of its members in the corruption scandal.
--Analysis by Amando Doronila (PDI, 6/23/14)
A Milestone: Three senators in jail
WE do not know how long Sen. Bong Revilla will stay in the Crame custodial center (or how long he will last). We can almost be sure that this shining example of the principle that the rules apply to all will lose its luster soon enough, and the senator who rose to fame portraying superheroes in the movies and on television will claim medical privileges. We can already hear it in his lawyer's candid words: "He's a senator. He should be given some kind of consideration to alleviate the conditions in his cell."
Aside from marking the milestone of a sitting senator placed in detention, we must redouble our efforts at vigilance. The resources of a powerful and moneyed politician like Revilla (or the other senators indicted on similar plunder and graft charges, Jose "Jinggoy" Ejercito Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile) cannot be underestimated. The public should not weary of performing its role—of monitoring the progress of the cases as closely as possible, of guarding against the granting of unwarranted privileges. For the rules to apply to all, all of us must apply the rules.
(PDI Editorial, 6/23/14)
To Not Let Go
A LONG road still lies ahead and it is a rough and stony one. In the United States, it took two years for the Enron bosses to be tried, convicted and permanently jailed after they were arrested. Which brings us to a crucial point: In the United States, the public may safely leave it to the courts after the culprits are arrested to see that justice is done. The law is institutionalized, the law is nonnegotiable, the law is on autopilot. And after a wait, long or short, justice is done. Here, it is not.
Two years is a long time, and that is assuming the case against Enrile, Estrada and Revilla will take only two years. As it is, two years is all P-Noy, the initiator of the prosecution of the three, has. In the United States, a change of government does not affect a criminal case at all. Here it does, materially, monumentally, decisively.
The need for continued, indeed unrelenting, public vigilance is there. The need for the antipork campaigners to see this case through, quite apart from seeing to it that the same fate befalls others, is there. The need for social media to monitor it, comment on it, keep the public fires burning on it, like a Greek chorus in a tragedy, is there. The need for the schools, the Church, the business community, the NGOs (the real ones, not Napoles'), the activists, the nonactivists, the inflamed Filipino, the outraged Filipino, to not let go is there. That is the only way justice will be done.
There's the Rub by Conrad de Quiros