A sad nation of transient rage and short memories

Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo

If the wheels of justice would just move swiftly and justly, Janet Napoles and her lawmaker-cohorts will  have nowhere to go but  to reclusion perpetua, absent a more stern capital punishment.

It is our  national prayer that a scam that  size  would  lead to the  swift dispensation of justice—and the possible restoration of the death penalty.  If not,  and if a  miscarriage of justice takes place, several questions will be worth asking.

Can Janet Lim—Napoles eat lunch in this town again after the fury shall  have passed? And after  the now-screaming newspaper headlines shall have reduced their font sizes? And the  commentators, currently all-worked up in the preaching of right and wrong, shall have moved on to other perceived wrongs in society ?

The  answer is yes and those who say otherwise will have to look back at our short memories to see how  short  the shelf lives  of the nation’s past  outrages have been.

Example. Look at Rep. Imelda Marcos.

Mrs. Marcos , during  the time US  federal prosecutors led by former  New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani  were trying the case against her in the early 90s, was a pariah of Philippine society. Her Blue Ladies had moved on except for a few loyalists. Moved on was  too kind  a description  for the flight of Mrs. Marcos’s former entourage.  Her Blue Ladies   not only moved on but also desperately sought connections to the new power elite and the new mandarins. Bah, we can’t live lives outside of the power grid.

And it was not so hard for them to find sponsors for their re-entry into the power circles. Who were more gullible to flattery—and more willing to  provide  re-entry  to the dislocated Blue  Ladies—than those who used broken china, and had been absent from the social scenes  for years,  due to fighting the dictatorship?

Mrs. Marcos was a pariah  in Manila but that was not the worst part.  The writers at  SNL  (Saturday Night  Live)  got ample material from the Imeldific acts of Mrs. Marcos , from the shoe collection to  her infamous shopping sprees at   Van  Cleef and Arpels . . . What could be worse than  getting mocked on SNL?
Sarah Palin, remember, did not survive a Tina Fey impersonation, despite her moose-slaying persona.

Did Mrs. Marcos stay in the society’s  doghouses for long?

Mrs. Marcos was right  back , after her acquittal by the New York federal court, of the RICO charges.  In 1992, she even ran for president to show to the world  that she was not only back in her home country and part of the mainstream. But back home—that was the whole point—as a presidential contender , if not  somebody packing real political clout.

Count  her years out of the woodshed?  Was that 1986 to 1991 ?  It only took  a few years  to fully rehabilitate  Mrs. Marcos and restore her sidelined swagger. The triumphal return of the former pariah after a few years of banishment  could only take place in a nation of short memories and transitory rage.

Here is a proper context to further appreciate how fast and easy the rehabilitation of Mrs. Marcos was.

Stalin’s agents  murdered Leon Trotsky (an ax was used to show the fury) in Mexico . The murderous sprees were a complement to the purge of his political enemies and detractors of Stalin back home—never mind that those he murdered and hunted down were the central figures in the 1917 revolution .

Another. The agents of  Iran’s theocracy hunted down all known elements of the Shah , even if these kin and kith were based  in the most civilized parts of Europe. Salman Rushdie, what was your sin, man? Does  this man of erudition and intellect deserve a fatwa.?

Grudges against ousted despots , in societies outside of ours, run long and deep .  and these grudges often leave a trail of blood and dead bodies.

Mrs. Marcos is fully mainstream now, the Marcos family as powerful as ever. She graces the hijinks of what passes off as our elite .  Her kids are spread out in the positions of political power and his son might even run for president .

If you think that this is  not a tragic country of transitory rage and  fickle moral arbitration, think again.

Janet Napoles , before her fall,  was one of the favorite ninangs of the young elite doing their vows of marriage . She was a patron saint to retired priests and funded  charitable projects set up by priests identified with the Archdiocese of Manila. Oh,  we even have the unbelievable footage of  priests and the bishops praying over Napoles. She gifted lawmakers with engraved Mont Blanc pens, to be later used in signing those ghastly  documents that ceded their pork to her bogus  NGOs.
She was everybody’s friend, if not a  benefactor. That power status was a long way from remote Basilan  and she probably enjoyed rubbing elbows with the “ dahlings” of Philippine society immensely.

Like Mrs. Marcos, Janet  Napoles , will not be driven out of town  for life . Her disgrace will be at best transitory and fleeting . Her current pariah  status, based on  the Filipinos incapacity to hold deep and lasting grudges , will just have an abbreviated life of a  few years.

Soon, she will be eating lunch in this town again , totally comfortable in a society of superficial grudges and short memories.



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  1. Silverio Tolentino on

    The more appropriate words for this – damaged culture of Pilipinos.
    As long as there are goodies to share, plunderers and criminals in our society are easily “forgiven”, allowing another chance to reinvent themselves and repeat the cycle of corruption again.

  2. Gregory Serrano on

    Your article is also selective. There are a hundred more examples to be cited yet you limited it to only one person. Others could have been worse.

  3. Voice from the Wilderness on

    The only institution that can benefit from this Napoles brouhaha is this present inconsequential Regime who has now a ready made wag the dog instrument to deflect any acid criticism from its critics.

    • Good question. Of the dogs? No. That would be too insulting to the dogs. Of the rats and mice? Neither. We are still too low for them. Lemmings! Yeah. Possibly. Lemmings. Country of yellow lemmings.