Plun­der is a heinous crime

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

AN in­ter­est­ing twist in the push by law­mak­ers in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to reim­pose the death penalty via House Bill 4727 is the pro­posal to re­move plun­der from the listed crimes that are pun­ish­able with death. A gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial can be charged with plun­der if the amount al­legedly stolen from the pub­lic cof­fers reaches at least P50 mil­lion.

The House is set to sub­ject House Bill 4727 to amend­ments in the ple­nary. But be­fore that, the House ma­jor­ity gath­ered in a cau­cus last week and agreed to re­move plun­der from the 21 heinous crimes sought to be pun­ished with death. That sparked wide­spread crit­i­cism that had some law­maker claim­ing the pro­posal is not fi­nal.

“This is just a money mat­ter, any­way, as they say, too lame for oth­ers to in­clude it.” That’s Ori­en­tal Min­doro Rep. Rey­naldo Umali, co-au­thor of the death penalty bill, ex­plain­ing their plan. By the way, the meth­ods pro­posed by the mea­sure as pun­ish­ment are lethal in­jec­tion, fir­ing squad or hang­ing.

So plun­der of gov­ern­ment cof­fers is “just” money mat­ter? In an­other re­port, Umali framed his ar­gu­ment this way: “There is a big­ger chance that a per­son would change when the is­sue is just money. But if you kill, you com­mit a heinous crime. That’s dif­fer­ent. It’s like you’ve al­ready lost your mind.”

Umali’s ar­gu­ment is actually the one that’s “lame.” He mud­dled the is­sue on plun­der by not dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing it with or­di­nary graft. It’s the mag­ni­tude of the thiev­ery— and the dam­age it brings to gover­nance and the lives of the Filipino peo­ple— that makes plun­der heinous. Plun­der­ers, in a way, have lost their minds also, mak­ing plun­der not less of a crime than, say, rape. (Aren’t plun­der­ers “rapists” of gov­ern­ment cof­fers?)

And law­mak­ers won’t have to worry that the in­no­cent may be wrongly con­victed of the crime. Un­like or­di­nary rapists and mur­der­ers, plun­der­ers have all the money to spend in their de­fense to hire the best lawyers and even pay off the cor­rupt­ible peo­ple in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. We have al­ready seen how plun­der­ers have es­caped pros­e­cu­tion through the years and are even now still among the dom­i­nant forces in the coun­try’s pol­i­tics. — Sunnex

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