Three senators’ fall

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Sunday, June 8, 2014


NO MATTER what legal maneuvers Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. will use now, these will only serve to delay the inevitable. The Office of the Ombudsman filed plunder cases against them and their aides (at least one staff member for each of them) together with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

There’s a phrase from the Bible that is playing in my mind now: “how the mighty have fallen” from Samuel 1:19. Only few people are given a chance to become senators of the land and wallow in the power and influence that position provides. A jail stint is such a steep fall.

Enrile’s life as a public figure can be described as like riding a roller-coaster.

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That ride reached new heights when he was Senate president and presided over the impeachment trial of former Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona. His knowledge, or should I say mastery, of the law and fairness made him the star, even superstar, of the proceedings.

It was the best moment of his waning years and it had many political analysts thinking it would allow Enrile to go into the sunset an admired man.

They were wrong.

Estrada used to be mocked for being a poor copy of his father, Joseph Estrada, both as an actor and a politician. He hit rock bottom when he was dragged into the plunder case that eventually got Erap convicted (former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pardoned him a few years later). But Jinggoy bounced back and got himself elected to the Senate.

I actually thought he would make a mess out of it. But he compensated for his lack of legislative knowledge with his aggressiveness and arrogance. He ended up becoming a high-profile senator and, because he is Erap’s son, thought he could be vice president or president someday. He already had his eyes on the 2016 elections, until the Napoles mess exposed him.

Revilla is also his father’s son. The older Ramon successfully mixed a stellar career in the movies with politics. Revilla rode on the popularity of the Revilla family name and used his good looks to become a popular action star. It didn’t take long for him to follow the footsteps of his father in the Senate. But his stint there hasn’t been exceptional.

But he is a survivor, at least as far as his alliance with the former president.

Gloria and many of her allies went down with her when Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III became president. Revilla didn’t. Being a senator meant he was the one Gloria ally that held a high post under the Aquino administration. He thus became president of the badly decimated Lakas.

Like Estrada, Revilla had high ambitions. He thought he could use his being head of a political party, no matter how damaged, as a stepping stone for the post of either vice president or president. He also had eyes for the 2016 elections. Until the pork barrel scam issue erupted.

In a way, both Estrada and Revilla initially used their political status to claim that the Aquino administration used the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam to derail the plans of the political opposition in the 2016 polls. I don’t buy that simply because I doubt if they would have won anyway. Besides, the pieces of evidence against them are rather strong.

I understand the prosecution of the case against them would drag for a long time. I even think that no convictions or acquittal would come before or in 2016. So it is possible Estrada and Revilla will run for a higher post in the elections that year. My hope is that the voters, instead of coddling them, would punish them using the ballot.

The message that we are determined to purge the government of the corrupt should be sent.

(khanwens@gmail.com)  

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 09, 2014.

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