At long last, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been charged with plunder. Along with Nasser Pangandaman, Eduardo Ermita, and Rolando Andaya Jr., former Cabinet secretaries all. They are accused of diverting P900 million from the Malampaya Fund meant to relieve the plight of “Ondoy” victims into Janet Lim-Napoles’ NGOs.
Of course P900 million is a pittance compared to the gargantuan scale of thievery wrought by the Arroyo regime. But quite apart from the fact that close to P1 billion is enough to build 100 moderately equipped rural health centers and feed close to 100,000 hungry children for a year, tell that to the victims of Ondoy in whose name that particular piece of villainy was done. It’s the plight of those victims, the bereaved, the ravaged, and the despairing, that drives home the viciousness of the act.
At long last, and emphasis on “last,” it’s happened. Like most Filipinos I, too, had begun to wonder which was dwindling more rapidly, the amount of flesh clinging to Gloria’s bones or the prospect of her ever having to face the bar of law and/or public opinion to account for her sins. The former leader’s prosecution comes at an opportune time—too opportune, P-Noy’s critics are bound to say.
It puts things in perspective, something that’s currently being distorted grotesquely. Of course P-Noy deserves his share of brickbats, but some of those thrown his way of late have been patently unfair and raise questions about their sources and motivations. “King of Pork” he’s been called, which is tantamount, given that “pork” has become almost synonymous with “corruption,” to being called “King of Corruption.” Can anything be more idiotic? Hands down, he’s the cleanest president since Independence, with the exception only of Cory.
Unfortunately, that cannot be said of the people around him. The ones in particular who are anxious to see that the sun continues to shine as they make hay and are desperate to make sure it does after 2016. They’re the ones I particularly distrust. The corruption at Customs wouldn’t be so rife if they weren’t building a war chest for the presidency.
And arguably, the means P-Noy himself has taken to achieve some of his ends leaves much to be desired. Chief of them being the way he went about removing Renato Corona as the chief obstacle to prosecuting Arroyo. Noble ends, ignoble means. Can there be a bribe after the fact? Oh, yes. The word of someone who is firm, may isang salita, even if used for an infirm end, is good as gold, or P50 million. Of course, other than with Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Juan Ponce Enrile, there’s nothing to show that the money was wasted. But the payoff itself must raise questions about it. Faulty means will always subvert faultless ends.
Just as well, can anything be even more idiotic than the calls for P-Noy to resign that have been appearing in the social media? What in God’s, or Beelzebub’s, name for? So he can be replaced by his predecessor who is not unlikely to experience a miraculous recovery after being given the prospect of recovering power? So he can be replaced by Jojo Binay, the current Vice President and next in line, whose claim to cleanliness is as solid as his pal Erap’s claim is to godliness? So he can be replaced by the loser Mar Roxas, who is currently acting as the vice president, if not indeed the president, even if he lost his bid for vice?
The charging of Arroyo for plunder restores our perspective, our sense of proportion, on things. Hell, it restores sanity into our world, into our universe. You want to see the bona fide, honest-to-goodness or dishonest-to-badness, Queen of Pork, you need look no farther. The fact alone that Napoles’ scam had a 10-year shelf life must suggest that the bulk of it, if not the entire thing itself, happened during Arroyo’s time. The Malampaya scam certainly did.
There’s more. Arroyo is the Queen of Pork not least in the quite literal sense of using the pork barrel to keep the senators and congressmen in line, or amenable to such things as shooting down the two impeachment bids raised against her, finding “Hello Garci” the product of the poisoned tree, and agreeing to the legality, if not morality, of executive privilege which exempted her from answering questions about the NBN (national broadband network). Which, not quite incidentally, was what prompted the need for a Freedom of Information law, and which, not quite incidentally, the current administration continues to buck, and block.
But the point was, you did not agree to those absolute atrocities then, you got no pork. You remained politically, or financially, vegetarian.
Indeed, more than the Queen of Pork, Arroyo is the Queen of Fork, quite apart from the Queen of the Forked Tongue, in what she wrought beyond the confines of pork. P-Noy has every right to say: “[The loot] could have surpassed P1 trillion. How much was lost, stolen and played around with, or used in transactions to stay in power? Is it too much to suspect that this money is now being circulated to undermine your trust in daang matuwid? To sow trouble and terror in many forms, and challenge those of us who had long been abused, and are now seeking justice to hold the violators accountable?”
By all means let us shout bitterly against pork. By all means let us not forget Napoles and the senators and congressmen who conspired with her to steal the money that could have kept street children out of the streets. By all means let us not let pass the P50 million each that went to the senators who voted to convict Corona.
But let us never lose sight of the one person who began it all, who spawned it all, who needs more than anyone else to be hounded by the Furies.
The InGlorious One.
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