Transparency International recently released a list of former strongmen accused of stealing billions from their governments. Second just to Mobutu is Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. He is the first of two Asian leaders, one of whom was Suharto of Indonesia, accused of amassing billions of dollars during their terms of office.
We all know about Marcos. We all know that his wife, son and daughters are back in power. Imelda Marcos, who hugged the global media with her 3,000 shoe collection is elected Congressman of Ilocos. Her daughter, Imee, manages Ilocos as governor while her brother, Ferdinand Jr. is now Senator. Many thinks that he will try to get the presidency by 2016.
Forty years ago, mention the name of Marcos, and people will frown and even spit. Now, mention the name of Marcos and people will even mention that he’ll probably become President like his father before him. Remember that the senior Marcos became a Senator (Senate President even), before he ran and won the presidency.
Transparency International says the Marcos family stole between 5 to 10 billion dollars. That’s 430 billion pesos, more than a fraction of the total budget and equivalent to the annual budget of one of the departments of the Republic of the Philippines.
Ferdinand really was the biggest thief of all. Yet, if you look at the surveys, Marcos is not even at the top of the most despicable Philippine leader of all time. That distinction is being enjoyed by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arroyo, like Marcos, is being accused of numerous crimes against the country. Lately, her son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo was charged with tax evasion by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. That charge just accused Arroyo of not paying enough taxes which amounted to 76 million pesos. If we compare it with Marcos, Arroyo’s is a mere pittance. People, however, believe that Arroyo stole a billion at least during her term.
The new administration vows to go after the Arroyos shortly after the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. Gutierrez is accused of coddling allies of the Arroyos involved in graft, one of them former Agriculture undersecretary Joc-Joc Bolante who stands accused of the fertilizer fund scam.
Joc-joc and his secretary Cito Lorenzo were charged with plunder and graft before the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman. People militated against the Ombudsman before the body released a charge sheet charging Bolante and Lorenzo.
What is wrong with us? When he ousted Marcos from office, many people hoped that the stealing and the looting would stop. From 1986 to the present, not one single thing changed. People from government are still running like syndicates, trying to think of ways to earn money from IRA or budget.
Bolante nearly escape the law aftre government offere to take him home. Indeed, Bolante went home,yet not he was not charged with anymore, nor did he suffer incarceration.
If a small petty oficial like Bolante can escape the law’s punishment, then, the hell is he even thinking of running for major in his province.
The answer is simple–we don’t have measures in place. Thieves just went ahead unscathe because anti-graft measures have no fangs in them. We don’t see anybody being robbed of their lives due to thievery.
In other countries, people who steal money lose their limbs or their lives. Here, they continue living in luxury, a mockery of the law and the people who follow the law.
As laws are being mocked, processes are rendered useless, and everyday living follows the laws of the jungle.
The rubicon has not been crossed insofar as graft and corruption is concerned because there is no one ever charged or incarcerated by violating these laws.
Fact is, Marcos example is being followed by almost every single one interested in public service. Talk to a barangay captain why is he interested in running and if you’re very close, he’ll tell you that there is actually money from running in office. Being an official affords one not just the title, the prestige and the power—there’s money from government. And when there is money all around, there is something to steal.