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By Mel Libre

Free Verse

Friday, May 2, 2014

THE prime minister of South Korea, Chung Hong-won, resigned from his position on April 27, taking all responsibility for the ferry disaster that claimed 188 lives with 114 missing. President Park Geun-hye accepted the resignation, with instruction that Chung complete the recovery effort.

In New Zealand, Member of Parliament Maurice Williamson resigned as minister outside Cabinet in the National-led Government for interfering in police investigations.

Donghua Liu, a National Party donor, faced charges on domestic violence, and the MP sent emails to a senior police officer about Liu as one who invested substantially in New Zealand and urged the police to be on "solid ground,” with an introductory statement that "in no way was he looking to interfere.”


Prime Minister John Key told the MP that he had violated the Cabinet Manual that provides: "Following a long-established principle, ministers do not involve themselves in deciding whether a person should be prosecuted or on what charge."

But what do we have in the Philippines? One of the biggest scandals ever has some of our highest government officials hanging on to their “honorable” positions despite the filing of charges against them.

The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to file three separate plunder indictments against Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, plus six others. They are charged with pocketing P597 million in kickbacks and commissions from the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of senators and congressmen from 2007 to 2009, with Revilla obtaining P242 million, Enrile, P183 million, and Estrada with P172 million.

Yet these three members of the Senate continue to report to their offices, undisturbed by the worst nightmare in their political careers. Why don’t they follow the examples
of politicians such as those in South Korea and New Zealand?

It has something to do with recent history. Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda were driven off Malacañang not only for abuse of power, but for graft and corruption. Yet the latter has never stepped near the prison, even when the amount they have stolen have been identified and returned to the government. Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder but he now serves as mayor of Manila.

And we had people like Gregorio Honasan and Panfilo Lacson who went into hiding when warrants of arrest were issued against them, and only returned when everything seemed safe.

In the Philippines, the big fishes may get caught, but they just slip back to find their way back to the corridors of power. Sadly, people put them back there, either through election or appointment.

If this act of recycling besmirched politicians continues, what lessons are we giving the youths of today? Sen. Miriam Santiago called on the graduates of UP-Cebu to fight corruption, but then again, what can they really do when the corrupt cannot be removed with ease?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2014.


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