Posted by: Jae | September 12, 2007

On Erap

And so we wait.

But for what really? For a decision from a Court that has allowed Danding Cojuangco to sell P6 billion worth of San Miguel Shares purchased with coco levy funds rightfully belonging to Filipino farmers? A Court that has exculpated Imelda Marcos and her cohorts from one malversation charge after another? A Court that has failed to act with decisiveness and dispatch on hundreds of cases pending before it?

* * *

Guilty, the verdict read. Guilty for plunder. I wish we could feel happy about this and heave a collective sigh of relief. We have, after all, secured the conviction of a former President for plunder charges — unprecedented in Philippine history. Given the level of corruption in this country, it would seem to be no mean feat to pull.

It is hard, however, to view the Sandiganbayan decision without looking at the political backdrop that provides it context. Over the past years, there has been decline in the credibility of the Sandiganbayan and its capacity to make decisions without kowtowing to whoever is in power. It is difficult, if not altogether impossible, to imagine that the Sandigan decision was reached without some sort of collusion with the administration and her cohorts.

Moreover, the long drawn-out saga of Erap only serves to reveal the weaknesses of our systems and the inability of our democratic infrastructure to hold its own amidst shifting and fluctuating political interests. We have seen how GMA has given Erap one concession after the other, threatened still by his popularity and afraid of what his supporters are capable of. Candidates paid him courtesy calls, hoping to court his favor and his support. And he brandished his power, never losing his macho swagger, smug in the continued adulation of his fans.

Sadly, even civil society organizations fell into the trap of buying into political fluctuations. Driven by hatred at GMA, they saw in Erap a strategic ally. Was it Plunder Watch — founded in 2001 during the impeachment trial — that was quoted in the papers a few months ago as having said that they would not be pushing for a guilty verdict for Erap anymore because GMA is more “guilty”?

Sad that that pushing for accountability and transparency in governance has ceased to be a moral imperative, and has been reduced simply to a political strategy.

* * *

My nine-year-old inaanak asked her mother what exactly happened today. Her mother replied, “The judge ruled that Erap is guilty for stealing money that belongs to the people.”

The bright child asked again, “Did GMA win?”

What is the correct answer to this question, when asked by a nine-year-old? I’ve thought about it and I have decided that the correct answer is this:

No, she did not win and she should not be happy. Because the court that went after Erap will eventually go after her too. We do not like thieves and cheats in this country.

And then we keep on with the struggle, we continue working very very hard, so that there will come a time — if not in our lifetime, then in theirs — when that statement will sound less hollow and empty to our ears.




  1. what could be expected from a court that is supervised by a “buang”? tsk,tsk,tsk…

  2. I agree that the Erap guilty verdict was a highly politicized ending to a zarzuela-type prosecution. However, when I went to Edsa to call for Erap’s resignation, it was in the sincere and educated belief that indeed, Erap is guilty of plunder, and I have not lost sight of this, even several years after. Time has not watered down Erap’s sins to the country. I have not forgotten.

    After the verdict, many people have said that it is unfair to put Erap behind bars because there are a lot more corrupt politicians out there, the incumbent President included, who have not yet been brought to court to account for their sins. Syempre, naka-upo pa sa pwesto, kaya kontrolado pa ang sistema.

    What these people are saying are of course true. Even without hard evidence, it is most difficult to believe that all of the incumbent public officers are upright, incorruptible citizens. Napakarami pang iba dyan. But to argue that Erap’s conviction is wrong because there are others who should also be put behind bars is to argue illogically. At bottom, it is really irrelevant that so many other reprehensible people are still free to roam the streets and plunder the nation. Because this fish that was caught, Erap, really did commit a heinous crime. For which, under the law, he must pay, by giving up his liberty.

    I find nothing wrong about this, I find only the good in this. This is justice at work, a rare thing in this country. This is what I prayed for when I went to Edsa Dos, and it has happened. Do I want Garci, Abalos, and all other corrupt politicians, to be put behind bars? YES. But just because they’re not, doesn’t make me any less happy, that one of ’em big fish has finally been adjudged guilty, after trial.

    Ang huling panalangin ko lang, sana, may sumunod pang iba.

  3. kulas- lahat naman sila buang eh. hehehe.

    joan – i agree. however big the crimes of the current government are (and they are big, make no mistake about it), that should not absolve the past government for its crimes. hindi pwedeng administration-specific ang paniningil. maningil tayo kasi mali. parusahan natin dahil may nagawang masama.

  4. mahirap maningil sa isang bangkaroteng institusyon — walang pambayad e 🙂

  5. nakakatuwa sana ang panalong ito kasi parang sinasabi sa mga tao na kahit ano ka pa, ahit mayaman ka, kahit malakas kang pwersa sa pulitika, kung nagkamali ka sa bayan ay sisingilin ka ng batas eventually. kaya lang parang di kapanipaniwala. di naman natugis ng batas ang mga marcoses at ang kanilang mga cronies and in fact marami sa kala ang nakabalk na, lumakas ulit at patuloy na yumayaman pa. Kaso nga ni Danding sa coco levy kahit pabor and desisyon ng Sandiganbayan at Korte Suprema sa mga magniniyog eto’t ang gobiyerno at ang ilang mga oportunistang grupo pa ang nakikipag-areglo.

    habang nasa posisyon pa ang pinakamalaking kawatan sa pamahalaan parang mahirap maging batayan ang conviction ni erap bilang example sa iba pang mga matataas na opisyal ng pamahalaan. malas lang ni erap kumurap sya nung edsa 2, e si gloria kindat ang alam at di kumukurap.

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