Incriminated-A A +A
Friday, September 27, 2013
PHILIPPINE officials accused of crimes against their office have unerringly used two lines of defense. First, they challenge their accusers to go to court and prove guilt. Often the expense and hassle of going to court are enough to cow most accusers into silence.
When sued, they fall back to the second line by charging the accusers of being “politically motivated.” They insist on their innocence with this defense because “politically motivated” in this country means “lacking basis in fact” or so politicians want people to believe.
True to form, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada went to this type of defense in a privilege speech that impliedly accused the administration of being politically motivated. He did not deny the charges but lambasted the administration for singling him out when many others, to his personal knowledge, have misused and profited from their PDAF. Never mind that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is filing cases in batches.
Unfortunately for Estrada, he only succeeded in incriminating himself with his speech. He incriminated not only himself but many legislators who, according to him, are guilty of the same crime of misusing the PDAF. The gist of his message was in effect: “Yes, I plundered but why single me out when many other legislators are also guilty of the same?”
Earlier he said, like Sen. Vicente Sotto III later, that he is not responsible for knowing to whom his PDAF is being spent. If legislators do not care to know where their PDAF goes, then how do they decide to where it should go? Obviously, it goes to whoever promises to secure our legislators a win in the next elections. Isn’t that why they asked for a pork barrel?
Not caring to know where the PDAF goes is unbelievable. But if true, it in itself constitutes irresponsible misuse of people’s money. A distinguished senator of the land has to care where the people’s money is spent. At least, Rep. Neptali Gonzales, the object of Jinggoy’s vicious tirades, knew where his PDAF went and that is to his district. (But he is still misusing the PDAF because I cannot imagine meals from Jollibee serving a purpose other than direct or indirect, remote or proximate vote-buying).
Incidentally, those who support the move to have the 2013 PDAF released should go through the list of beneficiaries. Since the PDAF is mainly a tool for the election of patronage politicians, it would not be surprising to see that many in the list are not poor scholars and medical patients but simply relatives of political lieutenants.
Yet, in the end, Senator Jinggoy has incriminated us. He got the chance to misuse his PDAF because we misused our vote on him and others like him. Hopefully now and finally we know exactly what to do.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2013.