WITH the Marcoses and their cronies after nearly 31 years winning their civil forfeiture case worth P102 billion in exemplary and moral damages, we are reminded of a fundamental rule for thieves in this country. Now learned and practiced to perfection by government officials and their cronies (that include drug lords) the must-do rule is to steal big, the bigger the better while biggest is best.
If caught (and most certainly you will be), it will take prosecutors years to gather the volumes of documentary evidence and herd the myriad witnesses needed to prove your guilt. It will, therefore, take years to try and resolve your case. That’s also how much time you can devote to wiping out the paper trail and making witnesses disappear.
(We cannot fail to take notice that the Marcoses and cronies won their civil forfeiture case because after 31 long years the prosecution, would you believe, failed to produce sufficient evidence to convict them.)
Also, if you steal big, scandalously big, you have more than enough financial resources to use as incentives to people who would help you hide, falsify or otherwise destroy documents harmful to your case. You will not be wanting of funds for witnesses to disappear for a sum of money or by force if necessary. You will have plenty more left to give prosecutors, judges, and other employees of the court offers they will be extremely tempted not to refuse.
Finally, if you steal big, you can afford the multimillion-peso cost of running for re-election or for a higher office. Once in office, you will surely steal some more, smart in the knowledge that in this country crime pays and money more than anything else is what wins elections.
And while the trial of your case is ongoing, you can set up, or buy shares in, so many profitable investments, make legal money on stolen money and amass even bigger resources not only to win your case but to also live a luxurious life. Meanwhile, the people you stole from and whom you have somehow deprived of basic needs are living miserable lives.
That shouldn’t bother you though because you can always stifle your conscience (if you have one) by donating a hefty sum from your stolen money to your bishop’s or your parish priest’s favorite project, be it a Church or rectory building or the latter’s personal transport. This not only quiets your conscience it also zips the mouth of religious beneficiaries on your on-going case in court. Remember the Pajero bishops?
The Philippines is one country where big crime pays. Now, will the death penalty help deter these crimes? How, when it takes decades to try resource-rich big-time criminals who more often than not are acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence?