Onli in da Pilipins

This country’s politics sucks. A mutineer-turned-senator summoning his jailer to a Senate inquiry? The jailed ex-junior Navy official Antonio Trillanes IV turning the table on Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr.? The investigated becoming the investigator? As many of us Pinoys say in disgust: Only in da Pilipins.

This is not the first, though. Consider ex-police general and now senator Panfilo Lacson. Remember the Kuratong Baleleng rubout case, or the testimony of Mary Ong, a.ka.a Rosebud? Now, people are considering Lacson a “presidentiable” come 2010 polls. And all accusations against him have receded from our collective consciousness.

What about Jinggoy Estrada, the “Jingle Bells” of the Erap plunder case? Before the May 14 elections, there floated stories that he may aim for the post of Senate president in preparation for a run for Malacañang in 2010. Also, note the seeming smugness of the man nowadays. That comes from the acquisition of political power.

I mean, are we nuts? I heard that former president Joseph Estrada is preparing for his acquittal in the plunder case that will be decided in a few months. Which is no longer impossible, what with his reacquisition of political influence. Or wasn’t he the capo di tutti capi, the Don Vito Corleone of the Genuine Opposition in the last elections?

Actually, when I view the political landscape, I remember the Marcoses and businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. I think they paved the way for the Estradas, the Lacsons, the Trillaneses, etc. of this world. I don’t know about the politicians before them but to me the Marcoses and Cojuangco were the discoverers of the surviving game.

Why do you think, say, Imelda Marcos has not been jailed for the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship? Two things: money and political clout. Why was Cojuangco able to regain the acquisitions he lost when the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising ousted the regime of his patron, Ferdinand Marcos? Two things: money and political clout.

Want the laws of the land to be soft on you or want to weaken the hold of the criminal justice system on you? Run in an election and win or build a political base. The bigger the crime committed, the bigger the political base you should build. Of course, that presupposes the existence of voters that can be bought and poll officials that can be bribed.

-I wrote this for the June 21,2007 issue of Sun.Star Cebu

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