• When you’ve been wronged


    Forgiving somebody who has wronged you is easier said than done; forgetting the wrong that was done to you is a bigger challenge.

    Reading the newspapers nowadays led me to this reflection about forgiveness. How do you forgive abusive politicians? How can voters easily forget their misdeeds that they get re-elected even if they did nothing in the previous term?

    How do we forgive those who squandered the taxes that we grudgingly pay whenever we avail ourselves of services or buy goods, the significant amount of withholding tax deducted from our salaries even before we get our pay envelopes?

    But why can many voters forget what they did on Election Day? Getting re-elected translates to vindication; losing means conviction.

    The multibillion-peso pork barrel scam has already destroyed the reputation of almost everyone in government in the current and past administrations. Several of them appear guilty as charged; others have become collaterals, while a few may be innocently embroiled in what could be the worst political scandal in recent history.

    Let us not forget that this channelling and funnelling of funds to dubious non-government organizations (NGOs) did not happen only recently. The transaction reports that have come out so far date back to the previous administration.

    But we could not move forward by always pinning the blame on the past. We should neither forgive nor forget those who ought to be held accountable for the monies that should have gone to activities that could have helped farmers increase productivity and income. They should be taken to court to answer for their shortcomings.

    If the cases against erring officials are bungled by weak evidence and the absence of credible witnesses, what would stop people entrusted with public funds to resist temptations of huge kickbacks from various deals?

    The Senate, the House of Representatives, the Department of Justice, the Ombudsman,the Sandiganbayan, and other courts will only be wasting more public money in investigating shenanigans in the bureaucracy that would end up being thrown out for lack of merit.

    All the while we were made to believe that the government had a strong case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who was charged in connection with the much-publicized P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

    Look at what the Ombudsman’s investigators found out, resulting in the dismissal of the graft charges for lack of any factual or legal basis to establish criminal liability.

    In 2007, the Sandiganbayan convicted former President Joseph Estrada of plunder for receiving P545-million protection money from jueteng operators; diverting P130-million tobacco excise tax share of Ilocos Sur; receiving P189.7-million kickback from Belle Corp. for GSIS, SSS purchase of P1.8-billion worth of shares of stocks and maintaining the P3.23-billion “Jose Velarde” account with Equitable-PCI Bank Binondo, Manila branch.

    The anti-graft court sentenced Estrada to reclusion perpetua, or a jail term of up to 40 years. A few days after, Arroyo granted him executive clemency, and he was a free man.

    It was a conditional clemency that barred Estrada from running for public office. Estrada did in 2010 and won as mayor of Manila City.

    Billions of pesos in public money was spent in the Estrada trial that lasted seven years. He was convicted, only to be freed a few days later. And then he defied the condition for the presidential pardon.

    How can we easily forgive and forget brutal abuses in using public money and blatant violations of laws by the highest leaders of the country?

    The Holy Bible has several verses about forgiveness. Jesus taught us to forgive unconditionally. But isn’t it also unchristian to tolerate abuses, or to play deaf and dumb to those who violate another person’s rights?

    Personally, I can’t easily forgive and I don’t forget even if I have forgiven someone who had wronged me. So, beware!


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