PLUNDERERS of the world, unite!
Plunder, as you probably know by now, has been supposedly delisted from the list of heinous crimes that are punishable by death under a congressional proposal that is seen as good as passed by lawmakers who fully support President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on criminality and other social evils.
And not to spoil your understandable rejoicing, the measure sticks to the original P50 million as the threshold amount for plunder.
Meaning, you can rob the people blind of P49.99 million and still not be tagged as a plunderer but perhaps as only an ordinary lawbreaker.
Get good lawyers, then, and have the case dismissed and you are set for life, case closed until your next plunderous act.
Most likely, you can steal under the very noses of taxpayers because you are a fat bureaucrat with unblockable access to big-ticket government contracts where oodles can be made from bribes and other “fringe benefits” that you think your high office is entitled to receive.
Betraying their self-serving motives even as they vow to uphold the rule of law and the delivery of justice through firing squad, hanging, lethal injection or whatever it is that supposed scums of the earth (read: construction worker, garbage collector, drug addict) deserve for rape, murder or arson, some in the legislative branch arguably can qualify as voracious predators of taxpayers.
Clerks in the civil service make do with salaries that cannot afford them a house right away or send their children to good schools and, if they are of the criminal kind, they can only help themselves with a few thousands.
But some who also wield power and influence in the executive and the judicial branches, we think, are not past tinkering with the idea of getting rich and quick.
No problem, because everything that can be converted to cash is within their reach and who are they to resist the temptation that all mortals fall for?
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) apparently thinks that plunder and the plunderers can be stamped out, at least by lowering the threshold amount for the offense.
So, it wants to reduce that amount to P10 million, which scaling down should dampen the avarice of the would-be plunderers in our midst.
At the same time, VACC Chairman Dante Jimenez said he supports Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s stand that plunder should be treated as a heinous crime that should be dealt with capital punishment.
“Anti-death penalty groups claim that the death penalty is anti-poor. Well, a lot of people are poor because of corruption. Corruption breeds poverty,” Jimenez noted in a recent newspaper article.
One such group is the Youth of Bacolod, which has cited a 2004 study of the non-government Free Legal Assistance Group where eight out of 10 death row convicts did not reach college, and six out of 10 of those were minimum wage earners.
“This basically illustrates the fact that the death penalty is anti-poor. The Supreme Court had also pointed out that there were wrongful impositions of the death penalty from 1993 to 2004,” it said.
Militant women’s group Gabriela was on the same page with the Youth of Bacolod, saying, “The death penalty will breed further injustice amid heightened poverty, social inequities and a deeply flawed justice system.”
Gabriela claimed that “offenders from wealthy and powerful sections of society manage to manipulate courts and escape accountability.”
It could be referring to plunderers who hog the headlines for the wrong plunderous reasons because, partly, they are celebrity lawmakers or celebrity entertainers.
Meanwhile, the burden of proof is on Speaker Alvarez that the death penalty bill has not exempted plunder as a heinous crime deserving of capital punishment.