Why Are We So Special?

 Senators Enrile, Jinggoy and Revilla have hinted at how they propose to defend themselves.

  Enrique Dela Cruz, attorney for Enrile, has denied the charges against his client as he would be wont to do. The Senator, counsel told media, knew nothing of the workings of his staff. Unfortunately in so doing, inadvertently or not, he also threw his client’s ex-Chief of Staff, friend and confidante of 25 years, Gigi Reyes, under the bus.

Many were surprised at the news. Filipinos still pride themselves on old fashioned values like chivalry, manhood and, in a sinking ship, women and children first; so, from where it looked, the notion of feeding a distressed lady to a lynch mob in order to skip town was, well, unexpected from an officer and a gentleman.

A better alternative might have been for the Senator to offer himself in exchange for the lady, with a statement something like this:

” I am innocent of the charges of plunder. As a Philippine Senator I have the moral obligation to ensure that my PDAF was properly handled. I may have been negligent in this respect for which I apologize to the Filipino people. However I have never acted with malice and look forward to vigorously defending myself against allegations I unlawfully benefited from my PDAF.

By law the DBM and the implementing agencies are administratively responsible for monitoring PDAF funds. I intend to file the appropriate charges against their officers. If I am to be tried so too must they.

 My Chief of Staff has at all times acted upon my instruction. I would be surprised if she has benefited from any of my PDAF. Therefore I request she be absolved of all charges.”

This noble approach would have come at little extra cost. At his age, with his vast legal and political armory and his party ally as possible next President, the Senator will never face time. It took the Sandiganbayan 7 years to convict Erap in a simpler case so unless he intends to live indefinitely, the man should be fine.

Sen. Jinggoy has a different set of challenges. For the first time he is required to play a role he is unaccustomed to, that of real life bad boy. The way to that character, he has seemingly decided, is not to prove he is innocent but to prove everybody else is guilty. Hopefully the Sandiganbayan is following his thinking.

In a privilege speech Jingggoy accused the President of “rewarding” Senators, himself included, with P50 million in additional PDAF for impeaching CJ Corona. The “incentive”, he subsequently clarified, “was not a bribe” and did not influence his vote (but did those of his peers?) so it is unclear where he was taking this.

The Senator then branded colleagues Peter Cayetano, Santiago, Pangilinan, Villar, Ed Angara and Rep. Gonzales as being philosophically if not criminally guilty of questionable pork releases and of hypocrisy and over-righteousness; although he did admit they may not be sinners. Again his messaging is tortuous but seems to ask why, if all his peers live in glass houses, are he and his two companions the only ones being stoned?

But he reserved his most scathing remarks against the “system” which he declared to be the real guilty party: “We are all here the victims of a flawed system which is so ingrained it has become institutionalized”. (When asked to comment the system chose not to reply). Some victims have obviously done better at it than others.

Sen. Jinggoy’s frustrations are understandable but he should know politics has never been about fairness. Therefore rather than bewail the inequities of life, the guilt of his colleagues or the flaws of the system; he should use his still considerable political capital, charisma and name to prove his innocence. He might also want to keep his perspective lest he be suspected –as he has by social media- of starting to wander.

Sen. Revilla is of the same circumstances as his friend Jinggoy (although there is debate as to who is the better actor). To his credit Bong has since an initial burst of hubris, chosen to remain quiet which has served him well. Silence speaks loudest when things are noisiest.

The three Senators have a long road ahead. The elements that elevated them to their pinnacle have mutated. Public sentiment, the political culture and their modes of expression have changed. CJ Corona did not recognize this shift in the ground, that the public will no longer suffer its leaders’ sense of entitlement (“Your Chief Justice will now excuse himself”) and this may have felled him. There is a lesson here for the Senators. As for the rest of the nation, however this may grate some of us, we might remember the men are innocent until proven guilty.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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5 Responses to Why Are We So Special?

  1. Eduardo Cu Unjieng says:

    I agree with most of what you wrote. But I disagree vehemently with your last statement. If you were merely pointing out the rule of law, fine. But you, as well as countless Filipinos, both living and dead (the latter still vote) know they’re guilty as sin.

  2. Frank Holz says:

    Leo, a strange ending to an interesting piece. You seem to suggest that the judicial process be allowed to run its course, and at the end the guilty and the innocent will have been identified and dealt with by a just system. I would think that your focus should be on how to bring swift justice, not on the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

  3. Joe America says:

    We all listened to the witnesses. They are credible. We saw the charges. They name the names. The three accused senators ought to go on voluntary leave of absence, or, failing that, the Ethics Committee should suspend them. It is only through honorable deeds that this will get cleaned up.

    I doubt that either will happen. Again, because it requires honor. There is no honor among thieves. And no shame in the Senate.

  4. I have deduced, after a lifetime of exposure to our politicians and the misdeeds heaped on us, that if there is a basic flaw in the Filipino psyche, it is the lack of “patriotism”. Often defined as love of country, I would rather call it love of people who live in this country. How else could one explain the millions who have to go hungry, the youth who can’t have a better education, the infrastructure that could otherwise have been built ? By stealing the money that could have been used to improve the quality of life for a 100,000,000 Filipinos, untold misery and suffering is bequeathed to generation after generation by politicians who would rather keep themselves and a few dozen of their direct descendants rich for infinity.

    I have heard people speak with Nostalgia about General Angelo Reyes who, when he concluded that his honor had been compromised, took his own life in an ultimate gesture of atonement. Those who are guilty in the Pork Barrel fraud and are therefore traitors to the Filipino people can still find redemption ala Angelo Reyes. Then we could call them Patriots.

  5. Samsara says:

    I agree with your last statement. Between now and the day the final verdict shall be read, it is a long arduous road… this, for both the accused and the nation. It is a challenging road ahead for the accused, while the nation awaits…The destiny of the accused somehow becomes secondary to the whole Nation’s. Freedom for the nation or perdition? In the meantime, there is an undeniable truth here, a great crime…Where did the billions of pesos of people’s money go?

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