Home Headlines The good, the bad, and the ogre

The good, the bad, and the ogre


 The good.

      In the book  of Justice Secretary Jesus “Boying”Remulla,to man up is to own up, or vice versa.  Non sequitur, according to mothballed  prison chief  Gerald Bantag now apparently front and center– euphemism for a place between a rock and a hard place– of  two murder cases involving a  hard-jawing journalist and an obscure   gofer (go for a gunman,etc.)  inmate.

      The bad.

      From  the former prison  chief’s perspective, truth is more  complicated than allegedly plotting to murder certain people which can be simply achieved by suffocating them with a flimsy plastic bag.(At least, one fish in the ocean is saved)  It’s  moral but it’s also political.  One pointing finger can be a subterfuge for three digits pointing to the opposite direction. 

        The message? Not so fast and, better yet, get off your moral/legal/political high horse, and will talk business, meaning surrender.

         As the back-and-forth goes on between the avatar of justice and the suspected Dirty Harry, truth insinuates in an irrevocable inefficiency or the lack of : at least 170 dead inmates are left out  in the cold literally, in a funeral home waiting for the traditional last ritual.  The mysterious death of a number inmates who had earlier testified against a former s enator over drug money surfaced anew. An unexplained big, big ` hole dug in the ground near the penitentiary is discovered.   The plot thickens like an Agatha  Christie  whodunnit. Life imitating art.

          So, what’s up?

           In a time of deceit, George Orwell,  prophet of newspeak, said,  telling the truth is a revolutionary act. The Edsa  People Power in 1986 was described as revolutionary in that it was decisive and clear about the truth.To a man, the Filipinos ran the dictator out of power, and became the toast of the democratic world.  “You can’t handle the truth”,  Jack Nicholson screamed his head off against Tom Cruise in a movie.    J.K. Rowling said truth is both a beautiful and terrible thing and suggested caution in exposing it.  

           Is Remulla up to  it?  He is hemmed in by  a clashing personal and official dilemma: his son has been caught flagrante in receipt of imported marijuana  while former senator Leila de Lima still  languishes in jail  on trumped up alleged drug crime which witnesses against her have already admitted  the result of coercion.   Of course, Remulla has vowed that he will not lift a  finger to help  his eldest child.  In a perfect world,  you can bet your life on it. Not in Pinoylandia.

            In a sense, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is determined to pursue the alleged crime against humanity In the war drug during the Duterte Administration because of a Nicholson-like argument.  Numbers were conflicting: 30,000 perished, according,  to human rights group. Not so, only 6,000, countered the law enforcement groups. The devil is in the detail. This is a job for a super body like ICC. No, we can handle it, Remulla and other members of the choir, sang. 

            The way we are,or have been for the longest time, there is a  cultural clash that is at work and can be deemed responsible for a weak, false or utter disregard  for accountability, especially in the public sense.  On the one hand is the Christian faith that encourages forgiveness. On the other, there is the Chinese influence on putting a premium on the importance of face, as in “hiya”. In either, forgiveness or face, not both at the same time, has instilled a strong sense of accountability. You want the former, accept the stigma.  You want the latter, give up something as precious as life.. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. 

              Accountability matters.  In countries where it works, there is political stability, economic progress and global clout.  You can cite the US and other western countries and  East Asian nations like Japan and South Korea, as exemplars.  We haven’t made up our mind, it seems.

              A couple of days back, former Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon served notice about the increasing lack of transparency in the use of public money in light of increasing intelligence funds for certain government agencies, some of which didn’t have it the past.  Hello, Orwell. Intelligence funds, as he pointed out, do not pass  the usual  government auditing. Franklin hit the nail on the head: diminishing accountability of government officials. 

             Accountability is at the heart of a well-established doctrine in public service.  A public office is a public trust.  There is no doubt that it is less than honored, at least in our time and setting. “ A body of men who do not hold themselves accountable to anybody,” Thomas Paine warned ,” ought not to be trusted by anybody.”

            On second thought…..

             After a generation as  outliers in Philippine politics as result of EDSA, the Marcoses are back in business, or power more precisely.  With a vengeance, of not only restoring the  sullied name but rewriting history as well, or their happy version of why there was EDSA in the first place.   There are still unresolved issues where TRUST or CASH is writ large, like the P23 or P203 billion estate tax due for decades ruled with finality by the Supreme Court. 

           When the chief tax collector in the country appealed to her president  that he should serve as model public servant, she presumably had the importance of accountability, first and foremost, in her mind.  The debate still rages on, especially on social media, whether he’s living up to her standard. 

           Bantag, in his defiant and uncouth posturing against the two raps he’s facing, may have an opinion vis-à-vis the new kid on the justice block. Is it a case of  the pot calling the kettle black?

            The ogre?  Your guess is as good as mine.




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