The myth of the principle of equality before the law

Bulatlat perspective

The dispensation of ‘justice’, or rather injustices, is so blatant in the Philippines that one could not help but ask: For how long would we allow these to happen?

Let us take the case of three persons.

On one side are former president and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and pork barrel scam conduit Janet Lim Napoles.

Arroyo was arrested the second time in October 2012 when she checked in at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where she was detained months before on charges of electoral fraud, which was dismissed. This time she was arrested for plundering the $8.8 million funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. She was subsequently acquitted in another plunder case in connection with the P728 million ($16.177 million) fertilizer fund scam. There are more corruption/plunder cases involving her, her family, and her former Cabinet, including the bribery-ridden NBN-ZTE broadband deal and the illegal transfer of OFW funds to finance the distribution of PhilHealth cards to bolster her 2004 presidential campaign.

With all these cases awaiting her, she is comfortably “detained” in a suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and the government is paying for her stay there.

Janet Lim-Napoles, who is being accused of facilitating the skimming of P10 billion ($222 million) from pork barrel funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund, was fetched and brought to Malacañang to “surrender” to President Aquino himself. President Aquino even served as advance party to Camp Crame to make sure that her detention is safe. From Camp Crame, Napoles was soon transferred by three convoys of vehicles to a bungalow unit inside Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna. The unit is the same facility where former president Joseph Estrada was detained. A food taster was even assigned to her to make sure that nobody poisons her. She is currently being treated at the Ospital ng Makati by her own doctors from the high-end St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Compare the situation and treatment of Arroyo and Napoles to Andrea Rosal who was arrested March 27 on suspicion of being a member of the New People’s Army. Her only crime is that she is the daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, for which she was abducted when she was only three years old. And also perhaps, she took to heart the principles that her father stood and fought for: Serving the working masses. She was seven months pregnant when she was arrested, made to sleep on the concrete floor of a jail cell she shared with 31 prisoners, and when her aunt asked the permission of jail authorities to provide her with an electric fan and some cold water, it was denied. When the court granted her request for hospitalization, she was brought back and forth from her detention cell to the Philippine General Hospital because of problems in coordination; all the while this was happening she was already experiencing labor contractions. Two days after giving birth, her baby died. She was allowed a mere three hours to visit her baby’s wake and her request to attend the burial was denied.

Such is the contrasting fate of Arroyo and Napoles on one side, and Andrea Rosal on the other. The former two are being charged with enriching themselves with the people’s money and Rosal is being charged on suspicion of fighting for the interest of the masses. The Aquino government took the extra effort and expense to make sure that Arroyo and Napoles are being taken cared of while it made her detention difficult for Andrea Rosal.

Of course, what could one expect? Arroyo and Napoles came from and served the interests of the ruling class – to which President Aquino belongs – while Andrea Rosal, by her name and affiliation, is a threat to the interests of the ruling elite. Filipino bureaucrats and politicians need the likes of Arroyo and Napoles to make sure that they are able to divide the spoils of power while they would rather have the likes of Andrea Rosal eliminated from the face of the earth.

So how could there be equality before the law? (

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