Revilla’s ac­quit­tal

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION - BONG O. WENCESLAO khan­[email protected]

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.

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