THE SARO-for-Cash exchange between the fake Napoles-run NGOs and the lawmakers from both chambers of Congress was unprecedented in the annals of congressional sleaze. Previously, the most brazen form of congressional corruption was using pork to fund cheap books and near-to- useless “fertilizer”to get the highest commissions possible. But all SAROs, take note, were in exchange for something. There were “deliverables.”
Until the SARO-for-Cash, with its unprecedented zero delivery, congressional corruption had been public knowledge but accepted as a fact of life. We have had, from time immemorial, a historically- tainted Congress. Even the “innovation”in pork allocation—that a percentage goes to a “soft part” that can be leveraged for higher commissions was tolerated. Ingrained in the pork, here and elsewhere, are varying shades and degrees of corruption. Even in developed economies, earmarks have the familiar ring of building “bridges to nowhere.” Or farm earmarks getting tacked into urban transportation legislation.
The outrage over the Napoles transactions was triggered not by the fact that congressional corruption was exposed but by the fact that nothing of that scale of greed had been transacted before. No Congress past and present has been a paragon of virtue and stories of corrupt lawmakers BP (Before Napoles) were commonplace. But some things were considered taboo, out-of-bounds or uncharted expenditures. Such as using the SARO to get hard cash stashed in large duffel bags in exchange for nothing.
The tolerance for congressional hanky-panky—or all forms of official corruption–has a tipping point, however, and the Napoles scam aroused rage of a scale that has yet to simmer down. That level of rage that remains high and intense has been propping up the efforts to jail Napoles and her gang and the legislator-cohorts.
Thanks to the heavens, its bright, angry embers have yet to fade away. Right now, I truly regret having to write a piece about our short memories and the short shelf life of our collective rage. Despite the phoniness of some of the major players in the anti-pork protests.
The building of special jails to house those to be sentenced in connection with the Napoles scam and other non-Napoles scams which copied the SARO-for-Cash feature of Napoles’ operations (let us jail the three and jail them all), is suggested because of two compelling reasons.
No congressional corruption of that brazenness, greed and impunity had been tried before and there should be special jails for those special transgressors. Just as it is a universal tradition to build memorials to celebrate heroism and greatness, we should experiment building special jails for special kind of crooks.
The Napoles scam which has scaled heights of unprecedented greed deserve a reverse memorial—a housing place for legislators whose capacity for rapacity we hopefully will not see again in our lifetime and generations to come.
We can even give names to the special jails: One block can go by the name “Impunity.”Another can be called “Huwag Pamarisan.” Our rich literature on crime and punishment will provide us with a ready name pool for every block in the special jails.
The other reason is this. It is an exclusive group jailed for a special kind of transgression against public trust. Why not give them the exclusivity they deserve. I feel that no taxpayer would oppose the building of a reverse memorial for those who will go to jail because of the scam.
Reclusion perpetua and perpetual disrepute.
What other class of would-be-convicts deserve the special jails ? Those to be found guilty of the Maguindanao Massacre.
We are used to gory crimes. A father gone berserk hacking the entire members of his family. A wacko that would spray a harmless gathering with bullets. A machete-wielding loony who would make others pay for his nuttiness. In many cases, the loss of human lives was motivated by something base or petty.
But no one goes around murdering more than 50 people, most of them journalists, in broad daylight just to show how powerful you are. Even the sickest minds are not supposed to do this. Mass murder with hubris and without any shred of remorse? That is not just practiced in our society.
The worst part was after the massacre. A government-backhoe was used to dig up a mass grave. After the limp and lifeless bodies had been shoved into the mass grave, the backhoe started beating the lifeless bodies to a pulp – to deal them a second, more cruel death.
The money and equipment for the massacre, just to rub salt on that despicable, inhuman act, came from public funds.
By dealing with the pork scammers and the massacre participants and brains through special jails is a nation’s way of eternally remembering acts of impunity.
So we can say “never again.” So that the nation will long remember.