First, it was retired Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Eliseo de la Paz to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Then came former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante’s turn. The only people missing in this tragic comedy are Benjamin “The Broker Abalos Sr., made famous by his role in the graft-ridden $329.5 million National Broadband Network-ZTE contract, as the officiator, and Jose Miguel Arroyo and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as sponsors. With these people, we already have an entourage of fools to complete the cast of the tragic comedy titled “Impunity of Corruption.”
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
First, it was retired Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Eliseo de la Paz to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after being held in Moscow for trying to bring out P6.9 million or 105,000 euros from Russia. He hastily called a press conference apologizing for the “international embarrassment” caused by his ‘misstep’ of failing to declare the money with Russian customs. He declared that he is willing to face the Senate probe because he claims he has ‘nothing to hide’. But when the time came for the Senate probe, he did not attend the hearing, made himself scant, and filed a petition with the Supreme Court to stop the Senate from conducting an investigation into his ‘misstep’ and from compelling him to testify.
Then came former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante’s turn. Bolante who two years ago declared that he was willing to face a Senate probe on the P728 million fertilizer fund scam then ran to the US and sought political asylum there – for the silly reason that his life was under threat – arrived at the NAIA October 28 with hair dyed white and constantly holding his chest, in a vain attempt at trying to make it appear that he was about to have a heart attack. (Well, if he was having a heart attack at the airport then he should have died before reaching St. Luke’s hospital after he had to wade through a phalanx of reporters, be taken to the immigration office, then snake through EDSA and E Rodriguez.) Again, Bolante declared that he would face any probe to clear his name. But even before his arrival, his lawyer already filed a petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) before the Supreme Court to block the Senate from arresting him.
The only people missing in this tragic comedy are Benjamin “The Broker Abalos Sr., made famous by his role in the graft-ridden $329.5 million National Broadband Network-ZTE contract, as the officiator, and Jose Miguel Arroyo and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as sponsors. With these people, we already have an entourage of fools to complete the cast of the tragic comedy titled “Impunity of Corruption”.
But the only hitch is that the joke is on us. These people have been playing (read: getting rich) with taxpayers’ money: money that is supposed to be used to develop the country and to help the Filipino people tide over the crisis. In stead what the Arroyo government is doing is that it taxes the Filipino people more, through the VAT, and use their windfall earnings on these – only the windfall earnings generated from the spike in prices – to distribute among a small number of people in the form of subsidies, while claiming credit for it.
Incensed by the impunity of corruption under the Arroyo government, ranking bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) led by its president Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo that included Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso Pangasinan Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Bishops Socrates Villegas, Joel Baylon and Jose Sorra delivered the prelates’ most scathing statement so far. They said that corruption, during the past few years up to today, has become “endemic, massive, systemic and rampant”, branding it as a social and moral cancer plaguing Philippine society.
Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso said it’s high time for the public to act and for the Arroyo government to answer the charges of corruption being hurled against it. More importantly, it called on the Filipino people to act. To quote from its statement,
“In response to the global economic crisis and the pitiful state of our country, the time to rebuild our country economically, socially, politically is now. The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy and to prove that we have matured from our political disappointments is now. The time to prepare a new government is now.”
No wonder the Arroyo government reacted strongly to the Bishops’ statement, with Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez calling it as ‘seditious’, and Donald Dee, chair emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, cautioning the Bishops against ‘divisive’ statements. (The last time I heard, it is corruption that divides the nation and not the calls to end it.)
Nevertheless, the Catholic bishops are merely reiterating what people’s organizations have been calling for all along. It is now up to the Filipino people to act now or let the entourage of fools to continue ruling the country and for the impunity of corruption to persist. (Bulatlat.com)