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.