The Supreme Court as the final arbiter and savior

The Supreme Court as the final arbiter and savior

This is a perfect situation where the system for checks and balance was put into place. The Executive and the Legislative have corroborated (to use a milder term than “conspired”) to tweak the budget process and allow them to abuse and misuse public funds. True, the people have a role to play in rectifying the wrongs, but the system is so corrupted that the voice of the people is rendered out of tune. The electoral ballot, the only weapon ordinary citizens have to bring about change, has been debased by vote-buying fed by this abuse of the system. Hence, in this situation, only the Judiciary stands as the institution capable of saving the nation.

Fight it or perish (A letter from Bishop Socrates Villegas in 2008)

(This is a letter written by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas when he was still Bishop of Balanga, Bataan on November 27, 2008. It has taken nearly five years before Filipinos have awakened to the truth about how graft and corruption has devoured so much of our lives and caused untold suffering of our people. I am reproducing it below for everybody to ponder upon.)

FIGHT IT OR PERISH!

Fighting Graft and Corruption

To steal is wrong. It is a crime. It is a sin. When stealing is done by those high up in power and authority, it carries a greater culpability. The corruption of the best is the worst. The social problem of graft and corruption in public life in our country has reached abominable and embarrassing proportions. How shall we describe graft and corruption in our country? It is systemic. It is rewarding. It hurts the poor the most.

Graft and corruption is systemic and structural. It is not only individual or isolated persons who corrupt and get corrupted. The present system—the elected and the electors, the employers and the employees, the appointed and the appointing powers—has become so corrupt that what we do need is a radical, systemic, interior change. Changing personages through the electoral process or even through legal processes like impeachment and court suits will not necessarily result in reform unless there is a willingness to change from the heart and soul. Pinning our hopes on legal processes unaccompanied by conversion from within will lead us to nowhere but deeper frustrations. We can hear the protest “Tama na. Sobra na. Alis na. Kami naman!”. It is important that those who investigate or prosecute corrupt officials will not gain political or financial benefits from convicting or absolving the accused.

Graft and corruption is rewarding and rewarded. It is hardly punished. The politicization of the judiciary and the perennial rumors about rogues in robes are problems we need to address urgently. Vigilance is lacking. Political will is weak. Prosecution plays favorites. The penal system is flawed. Pardon and clemency is cheap. Among our people, there is an increasing level of tolerance for corrupt officials. Corruption does not seem to anger many of us anymore. We are not outraged enough by graft and corruption. Widespread graft has sadly numbed our morals.

The public money that goes to graft is money stolen from the poor. Because of graft and corruption, school buildings cannot be constructed and teachers are not paid; public hospitals cannot protect us from untimely death; soldiers are deprived of their just wages.

Our biggest problem in our country is graft and corruption. This problem must be faced courageously now. We are risking the life of our nation if we continue to ignore it. I appeal to the consciences of our countrymen. Do not leave the solution of graft and corruption to corrupt officials. Our problem cannot be our solution. Let us come together as Catholic faithful to fight the sin of graft and corruption. We cannot profess faith in God and not get angry at widespread graft and corruption. Faith in God and outrage at sin go together. Outrage is not enough; it must lead to action. If we are not outraged by the sin of stealing happening all over our once beautiful land, could it be that our faith has turned cold and uncaring? If your faith has turned cold and uncaring, how can you be saved? Fight corruption or lose your soul!

I place this appeal at the feet of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

From the Cathedral of Saint Joseph , Balanga City , November 27, 2008

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Bishop of Balanga

When will you respond?

Least guilty?

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is now talking about Janet Lim Napoles being a state witness in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. I don’t know why Roxas is dwelling on a purely legal matter but things have to straightened out before the issues become so entangled, and we lose sight of the meat of the matter. Although I’m not a lawyer, I have gained enough knowledge in the law to argue that Napoles does not meet the criteria for state witness. She is not the least guilty. And she isn’t needed to pin down the senators and congressmen, as well as Executive Branch officials, who are involved in the corruption.

The principle of conspiracy is that the act of one is the act of all. Hence, Napoles conspired with the legislators, executive department officials, and her own employees in the bogus non-government organizations to rip off the Filipino taxpayers. In that equation, the guilt of Napoles assumes a higher level than the legislators and executive department officials in their individual capacities. Napoles was the mother lode for the scam.

It would be a mistake for Roxas, and the Aquino government, to even consider Napoles as state witness material. Easily, Napoles could be regarded as the mastermind. Or at the least, she could be considered “chairman of the board” for the corruption conglomerate.

And because of the magnitude of her involvement, she is vulnerable to pressure from government to testify this way or that. She is vulnerable to manipulation. This administration can order her to pin down certain legislators and clear others. It’s one ugly and rotten situation which we can’t allow to happen.

The Aquino government should look no further than the whistle-blowers who have exposed to entire racket in the first place. As employees of Napoles, they had direct involvement and participation in the operations of the NGOs. They had direct knowledge of the corrupt transactions. In many instances, they were present in the hand-over of the oodles and oodles of cash, the fruit of the corruption. The government can’t find more credible witnesses than the likes of Benhur Luy and his companions.

Lampoon: Hog industry fears decline in sales

The hog industry of the Philippines has expressed concern that the public outrage over the pork barrel scam will lead to a sharp decline in their sales.
“Now the pork will suffer from a worse image problem,” one major hog raiser from Iloilo said. “It used to be that cholesterol issues were the only ones we had to contend with. Now the pork has become a national symbol for wanton theft.”