Asad moment in yesterday’s handing down by the Sandiganbayan of the ruling on the plunder case against Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was that scene wherein the wife and daughter of Revilla’s aide, Richard Cambe, tearfully embraced him. Cambe, along with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, was found guilty of plunder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Cambe looked lost in that scene.
Contrast that with the smile on the faces of Revilla, his relatives and friends. While Cambe and Napoles were convicted, Revilla was acquitted. The only consolation there is that at least Revilla spent four years in jail. Hopefully, that would teach him a lesson on how to treat taxpayers’ money.
The three former senators linked to this sordid tale of corruption that surfaced when whistle blower Benhur Luy told the court everything he knew about the pork barrel scam are running again for senator. Remember their names: Revilla, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. The worst thing to happen to us as a nation is when they win in the 2019 midterm elections.
But back to Cambe. As a mere aide, he obviously is not one of the major players in this scam mainly orchestrated by Napoles and the lawmakers concerned. It is even doubtful if he ever profited monetarily from his role of receiving the money, obviously for someone else. As one netizen correctly asked: “Pwede bang guilty yong alipores tapos walang alam yong boss?”
Revilla’s acquittal shows that in our criminal justice system, everything is possible. And, as they say, onli in da Pilipins.
Which reminds me of my long-held theory about the swinging of the social pendulum. It looks like the said pendulum now is swinging in favor of the corrupt, not to mention the ultra-right. That is why I won’t blame Estrada for saying that his acquittal would follow that of Revilla. It does seem likely, although legal minds would tell you that it all depends on the evidence.
Now, I may have to ask this: Is there hope for our justice system. Considering the composition of the Supreme Court and now the Sandiganbayan, I am tempted to say there isn’t. More high profile cases will soon be heard by the High Court but with the decisions that it handed down in the past, I am losing hope. At least for now and in the next few years.
But hopefully, the social pendulum will once more swing to the other side after this, meaning to a progressive setting. The test would be in the May 2019 midterm elections when Filipinos go out to vote, especially for the candidates for senator. If liberal and progressive candidates dominate the senatorial elections, then my hope would be boosted.
The swing already happened in the United States when the Democrats won the majority of the seats in the House of Representatives in the recent elections there, although the Senate is still being controlled by Republicans. The political shift is becoming obvious in that country and US President Donald Trump could no longer do everything that he wants.
Will change also happen in the Philippines after the 2019 elections? That remains to be seen although, as I said before, I am hopeful not now but in the long term.