What crap! In his attempt to escape criminal prosecution, Sen. Bong Revilla has accused Malacañang of political harassment. He said that since his name cropped up as a Presidential candidate for 2016 elections, the Palace has started to conspire against him.
In a story published on Sunday by the Inquirer, Revilla also said “If we need to sail in 2016, as long as our countrymen ask for it, I’ll be up to it because I’m innocent of the charges being hurled at me. I can look every Filipino in the eye, and I have nothing to fear.”
His counsel, Joel Bodegon, chimed in and said he believes it was Revilla’s earlier announcement of his plans for 2016 that prompted the Aquino administration to prosecute him in the pork barrel scam. “That was his announced intention before, and that earned him the ire of Malacañang. He is perceived as one of the contenders. That’s why he’s in trouble now,” he added.
OK, I grant that Malacañang is bent on neutralizing the opposition in time for the 2016 elections. I also grant that the Palace and its allies are the prime movers behind the campaign to muddle the Napoles list in order to divert public emotion away from them. To a degree, I must say that the President is getting his way. So far, public focus seems to have turned on the three opposition stalwarts while Abad and others like him from the Liberal Party may have been momentarily erased from the people’s consciousness.
I also grant that the President is guilty of selective justice. On the chopping block are mostly members of the opposition. The inclusion of Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva in the plunder charge by the Ombudsman does not change the apprehension that only opposition people are being targeted for prosecution. Like Estrada, I also believe that Villanueva’s indictment by the Ombudsman was only a minor diversion. Nothing changes.
Still, Revilla’s pronouncement of persecution is nothing short of cheap PR acrobatics. Let me put it this way. Admittedly, he, along with Enrile and Estrada are being targeted by the Palace. That’s a no brainer. Selective justice, no doubt. But what the heck! Selective justice or not, this is the question: “Is he guilty as charged?” It would have been ideal if the other “pirates” were equally indicted, but unfortunately for us, President Aquino would not budge. He just won’t crumble under intense public pressure to include Abad and other Palace factotums in the plunder case.
So what do we do? Drop Revilla, Enrile and Estrada from the case just because the Palace won’t lift a finger to prosecute its allies? I say, let the wheels of justice take its course.
Prosecute the three opposition senators but give them enough space to defend themselves.
What about Abad and the other Palace allies who, undoubtedly, will not be included in the charge sheet? Well, that doesn’t matter much. At least momentarily. As sure as the sun rises from the East, Abad and the other suspects being protected by the President will face prosecution under the next administration. Abad et al can run but they cannot hide. After his term is over, people will surely go after those whom PNoy spared.
Assuming that VP Jojo Binay becomes President in 2016 and it looks like he will be, he cannot afford to ignore the people’s incessant clamor for him to file plunder cases against Abad and those who were involved in the P10-billion PDAF scam. So, I am willing to be patient and wait for the next President who, I hope will do his job of giving justice to the people by putting the guilty members of the Liberal Party behind bars.
I can understand why Estrada and Revilla had to deliver their privilege speeches. They hope to capture the hearts and minds of the public, well, by putting on a brave front and profess their innocence. Undoubtedly a PR move. Unfortunately for them, their cases cannot be resolved by communications no matter how effective their narratives might be.
Their cases are best resolved before the courts of law; at the Sandiganbayan, no less.
In the next few weeks, if not months, media will feast on the three opposition stalwarts thereby completing the rechanneling of the public emotion away from the administration and its allies unto Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. They will then serve as the receptacle of national outrage. With the filing of plunder charges against them, I am afraid public anger against the President and his allies will be mitigated. I’m afraid too, that his popularity ratings might even soar as a result of the incarceration of the three opposition senators.
It is also highly possible that the people might celebrate the jailing of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. At long last, big shots are no longer untouchables, they are now behind bars, Malacañang will chant. Better to jail three than none at all, its PR line will go. Oh, yes, the Palace is capable of sustaining the issue in media for a long period of time and stoke public anger against the opposition stalwarts even more.
That is why the Palace and Ombudsman had to rush the filing of the plunder charges against the three opposition senators. As a bonus, PNoy can claim another achievement in his fight against corruption. Another “trophy” for his “Daang Matuwid?”
Oh, by the way, Revilla’s threat to run for the Presidency in 2016 if there’s a clamor from the people is pure hogwash. One, there is no clamor for him to run for a higher office in 2016. Two, even assuming there were, what party will make him its champion? Lakas-Christian Democrat which he leads? Do you think the members of Lakas, if there are still remaining members, would pick him as its standard bearer given the hole he’s in?
But this is a free country. Let’s indulge Revilla in his “dream” even for a moment. If it is his way of proving innocence by seeking vindication from the polls, then by all means, let him run for President in 2016. But will he admit guilt if he should lose and go straight to jail without going through the lengthy process of a court trial? As the Hollywood star, Clint Eastwood would say in one of his hit movies, “Make my day.”
Selective justice? Yes. Still, we should allow the wheels of justice to grind. Let’s start with the three opposition stalwarts.
In the meantime, we should begin designing the special cells for the other crooks being coddled by President Aquino in time for the advent of the new President in 2016.
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On another matter. Is the inclusion of broadcasters Mike Enriquez, Korina Sanchez, Luchi Cruz Valdez, and Deo Macalma in the Benhur Luy list meant to confuse the public? I don’t think so.
In Luy’s digital files, they were lumped with the guilty senators, congressmen and government officials as having received PDAF money from Janet Lim-Napoles. Did they?
Absolutely not. Enriquez, Sanchez, Macalma and Cruz-Valdez are innocent. They did not receive anything either from Napoles herself or her PR operator.
What could have happened was their names were listed by Napoles PR consultant who had to liquidate the money he received from her. This practice by some so-called PR practitioners is pervasive. You hear that all the time. Names of unsuspecting journalists or editors are listed as having received slush funds from the operator when in fact and in truth the money went to line the operator’s pocket instead.
At one time or another, I had dealt with Enriquez, Sanchez, Macalma and Cruz-Valdez during my long years of doing PR work. (I retired from doing active PR consultancy when I joined the Arroyo government in 2005 as Chairman of the Commission of Filipinos Overseas with Cabinet rank.) I can vouch for their probity and integrity.
They are not the type who would air stories for a fee. They do not engage in “envelopmental journalism.” They are not the “AC/DC” (Attack and collect/Defend and collect) type of journalists.
Enriquez is one of the highly paid broadcasters in town. The last I heard, in 2012, he received from GMA7 a hefty amount of P27 million. Now, who in his right mind would believe that he would risk his hard earned reputation in exchange for a P50,000-pittance from Napoles or for that matter from any PR practitioner? He is one of the most credible broadcasters in town and his listeners respect him highly. I am one of them.
Korina, on the other hand, was included on the list largely on account of the interview she had with Napoles on her television show. I do not believe she received a single centavo from her for that. As a highly experienced broadcast journalist, I can understand why she did put Napoles on her show. Foremost is the fact Napoles was news and the broadcaster wanted a scoop. Scoop she had. But which later on turned sour. In our lingo, “Nakuryente si Korina.” (Korina was given a bum steer.) It happens all the time to journalists. Many fall victim to unscrupulous media operators disguised as PR practitioners. Nothing surprising.