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Why All the Fuss? We Knew They were Corrupt Anyway!

Initial list of Senators implicated by Janet Lim Napoles as having received kickbacks from her. Left to right, top row: Francis "Chiz" Escudero, JV Ejercito, Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile. Bottom row: Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Manuel Villar (ex-senator), Alan Peter Cayetano.

o finally the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. But we Pinoys should not be surprised at all. We all know how corrupt our country is. Even before former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of electoral sabotage and the misuse of public funds in 2011; even before Joseph “Erap” Estrada—an earlier president was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in 2007; even before Ferdinand Marcos, a president-turned-dictator, was booted out of the country along with his family and cronies twenty-eight years ago; we Pinoys knew they were corrupt. We also knew our Senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, Barangay chairmen, BIR and Customs officials, and our next-door neighbors were never totally on the up-and-up. And how did we know this? We knew it because we ourselves are as corrupt as all of them.

The sad truth is that we Filipinos are just as flawed and just as weak of character as the politicians we elect into office. We are not very forthright, we lie and cheat…and take the easy way out whenever we can. We choose to make money the fast, and “sleazy way,” rather than the slow and honest way. We even hold in the highest esteem people who are wealthy and ostentatious…never-mind if we know they're crooks.

So how can we Pinoys appear surprised that our lawmakers are now accused of receiving kickbacks from Janet Lim-Napoles and her criminal organization? Truth be told, if you pressed any “Juan-on-the-street” they would likely tell you that as far as they're concerned, all our politicians are corrupt. A few are just better at hiding their nefarious deeds than others.

Thus all the protestations by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce-Enrile, even Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chiz Escudero, et.al., blend into a cacophony of white noise that we Pinoys over the years have learned to simply tune out.

And then we have the Aquino administration that is content to simply spin its wheels until the 2016 election rolls around. They're happy basking in the glory of pretending to go after big-time crooks in government. But the stark reality is that in the end, they will likely achieve next to nothing except pass on already “cold” cases to the next administration—cases that will likely end in acquittals. So, nothing really changes. President Benigno Aquino III is simply raising the hopes of Pollyannaish Filipinos who think that real change might actually happen in their lifetimes.

We saw something similar after the EDSA revolution when Filipinos were euphoric at having booted-out Marcos and his cronies, only to wake up to the sad reality that today the Marcoses and their cronies are all back and as rich and as powerful as ever.  Filipinos just have to accept the fact that in the Philippines, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And the Philippines will remain in this sad constant forever. Published 05/17/2014


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