Netizens were up in arms against the lavish lifestyle of a 23-year old Filipina, Jeannie C. Napoles.
According to Rappler, she has in her name a unit in Ritz-Carlton Tower, L.A. California, worth about $2 million; she parties a lot, accessorizes herself with expensive designer bags, shoes and gowns and jewelries. It looks like we have a miniature of Imelda Marcos on stage. What does she do for a living? Certainly not hawking – that will give her free meals or a cheap condo or apartment but not a choice unit in Beverly Hills.
Blogs sympathetic to her would defend her extravagant lifestyle; Imelda for one, is never lonesome with admirers of her expensive taste, let alone her avarice. But others were outraged by her opulent lifestyle which was bankrolled by the Filipino taxpayers without the poor Filipinos knowing about it until it becomes ‘fait accompli.’
Jeannie’s mother, Janet Lim Napoles, is the center of an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation for putting up ghost projects sourced by her JLN Enterprises from PDAF, aka ‘pork barrels’ of about P10 Billion allocated to senators and congressmen of this great Republic of thieves and brigands.
These projects were mostly ghosts, but the money and the crooks that divvy up the loot were real. These bottom feeders are known by their other names, ‘’gentlemen” from whatever district or city or province whence they from — and the contractor, JLN as a ‘distinguished NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with impeccable credentials in distributing the largesse through the backdoors.
Come to think of it – P10 Billion is a pretty huge sum that can add up to meager incomes of public school teachers, build more schools, buy more books, build hospitals with decent medical supplies or simply feed hungry children, or relocate squatters. But it seems that prioritizing public service is contrary to our mores and custom.
We do not put bigtime criminals behind bars that’s why — on the contrary we elected them back to office—we collared the small-time knaves, the bigger fiends, we let loose!
We pillory the helpless squatters who have no voice in the media and the blogsphere as eyesores and blight, but we cozy up with the bigshots that robbed us blind and screwed us bigtime.
The Marcoses are lurking at the corner ready to get back Malacanang and their faded glory of plunder and pillage of the nation’s wealth. Erap, busted in the jueteng scandal and convicted by the Sandiganbayan is riding the crest of newfound caliphate of Manila. AFP ex-comptroller Garcia is negotiating for his freedom for his skimming off huge funds from military supply contracts by promising partial return of his plunder and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is back in the limelight as a congresswoman from Pampanga. Bigtime warlord-criminals are in jail for the massacre in Maguindanao, but the court process will take forever. Meantime, vigilantes and terrorists prowl Cotabato and Davao and jueteng protectors announced their comeback with a rub-out of their rivals in Atimonan, Quezon.
Bombs started rocking Mindanao. One blog pointed out that these bombings had the fingerprints of military ‘inspired’ surgical procedure to divert the issue over the Napoles racket.
Filipinos do not know anything about nation building. There was an attempt to institutionalize public accounting and transparency in a natiowinde scale, but the crooks deride and sneer at the effort — the Supreme Court invalidated the Truth Commision, and issued a TRO to hamstrung the DOJ to prosecute Gloria.
Under President Benigno Simeon Aquino, whom many consider a ‘political leightweight’, the people saw the principle of accountability enshrined in the most secretive fortress of the Supreme Court – in his SONA, he bawled at the corruption in the Bureau of Customs – and under his watch, the family’s economic flagship, Hacienda Luisita, was being distributed to sugar tillers thereof. These mattters, under his predecessors were only objects of empty lip-service.
There are certainly various shortcomings in his regime, but cleaning this augean stable, is not an easy task – cranny spots are bound to be left untouched because those crevices provide sustenance for the maggots and parasites of our society who loved to feast on the nation’s cauldron without honest toil.
The most able leader of the country after Marcos, Fidel Ramos has his failures too. But he knew who the enemies of the State were:
“We must restructure the entire regime of regulation and control that rewards people who do not produce at the expense of those who do. A system that enables persons with political influence to extract wealth without effort from the economy.” (1992 Presidential Inauguration address).
President Aquino must have broken up with his own oligarchic class by looking impotent in the dismantling of his economic empire in Tarlac. He needs our vigilance to prevent him from going back.
But while the oligarchy remains a problem, an entirely new class has arrived, the middle class who benefitted under the multi-party schema of the constitution under Cory Aquino and sought participation in the political process for a shot at public office, a participation long denied of them by Marcos.
But because Marcos had benchmarked what public service is all about, everyone now holding public office must be a thief. Before we have fewer thieves, the Marcos families, his relatives and cronies – now the thieves have more than doubled yet their combined loot is still dwarfed by the Marcos’ loot. Life is full of ironies. Unbelievable!
“The Marcoses fled to Hawaii in 1986, with them were 12 suitcases and attache cases, 22 bulging crates, a larger wooden crate, a foot locker, and carton diaper boxes stuffed with valuabes. The containers, transported out of the country by two C141 transport planes supplied by the US Air Force, had more than $7 million worth of cash and valuables. The baggages contained cash, certificates of time deposits totalling billion of dollars, real estate deeds to land holdings in the US, stock certificates, gold bullion, antiques, art objects, and jewelry. One of the boxes contained a pocket calculator and $1.2 million in pesos freshly printed by the Philipine Central Bank. Other crates, including the box of Pampers diapers carried by Imee, contained expensive jewels and antiques. When US State Secretary George P. Schultz and White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan were shown the inventories of the trove brought by the Marcoses, they were “disgusted” by the gaudiness they saw.” (Some Are Smarter Than Others, Ricardo Manapat, p. 29).
The newer thieves in the Philippine political landscape have a lot of catching up to do if they wish to duplicate the Marcos caper!
Meanwhile, short of a catastrophe of biblical proportions, the long-suffering Filipinos can only pray for their redemption!