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Negotiating under the criminal’s terms

Public ostracism, it is said, is the worst punishment for a grafter. Prison would curb his mobility; forfeiture, his partaking of the loot. But open ridicule makes the crook’s amassing of dirty money pointless. If no one consorts with him and everyone shows disdain, he’d realize that stealing wasn’t worth the effort. Thus is it suggested that we Filipinos snub his presence and walk out whenever he arrives. Leave him to his conscience and let him grapple with it forever – as society’s just retribution.

But then we can’t help ourselves. We relish the company of the government thief. We hate corruption, yet love to invite him to our baptismals, weddings, and birthdays. The social esteem encourages him to rob us some more.

A succession of “good government” commissions mysteriously have let go of Ferdinand Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth. Titles to mansions and ranches, international art masterpieces, corporate stocks, gold bars, and monies remain in the hands of trustees and even the commissioners. Presidents have opposed the recompense to victims of his martial law murders and tortures. Prosecutors and magistrates have frustrated justice. And we even have elected Marcos’ wife, son, daughter, other relatives and cronies. Thirty-one years since Marcos' ouster by civilian-military revolt, he is buried as a hero. Loyalists are rewriting history to deify him, as they did during his one-man rule.

And so the Marcoses are emboldened to retake the Malacañang that was their residence for two decades, 1965-1986. They are sweet-talking the President to help them do it. Everything is on their own terms. They offer to give him part of the loot they illegally have kept from sequestration. It’s supposedly to help fund his many projects. (Are not his Congress majority already enacting new taxes, and his new diplomacy attracting a slew of Chinese investors precisely for such projects?) In exchange they want immunity from any more criminal and civil suit. No, they will not accept conviction then absolute pardon, for that may stall their return to the Presidency. It has to be immunity or nothing.

Under normal conditions, the government sets the terms when plea-bargaining with criminals. But these are abnormal times....

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In the Prayers of the Faithful in last weekend’s Catholic Masses was this entreaty: “May the families of the victims of extra-judicial killings, kidnapping, terrorism, and sexual abuse obtain strength to rebuild their lives and find people who can help them trust in human goodness again.”

Read between the lines to millions of churchgoers was defiance. “EJKs,” the term that the political administration hates to hear the most because used in reference to its bloody war on drugs, is now officially being spread by the Catholic hierarchy to the faithful.

Will the administration meet this with more pride and fetid mouth? Or will it once and for all strive for dialogue, as it should have from the start? A wise leader humbly listens and unifies his people. He does not divide and sow hatred.

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Congratulations to the Metrobank Foundation Ten Outstanding Filipinos of 2017:

• Teachers Dr. Esperanza Cabrera, De La Salle University, Manila; Dr. Alonzo Gabriel, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City; Edgar Elago, Magallanes National High School, Agusan del Norte; and Jennifer Rojo, Neogan Elementary School, Tagaytay City;

• Soldiers Lt. Col. Elmer Suderio, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, 1st Infantry Division, Phil. Army, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur; Lt. Col. Ricky Bunayog, Asst. Chief of Staff for Operations, 6th Infantry Div., Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao; and Staff Sgt. Narding Pascual, 26th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Div., Talacogon, Agusan del Sur;

• Policemen Senior Supt. Joel Doria, Cebu City; Chief Inspector Rosalino Ibay, Jr., Manila; and Police Officer-3 Shiela May Pansoy, Digos City, Davao del Sur.

Each received P1 million cash, a gold medallion, and presidential trophy.

Board of Judges consisted of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman; Rep. Sonny Belmonte, co-chair; Court of Appeals Justice Magdangal de Leon; US Amb. to the Phils. Sung Kim; Manila Electric Company president-CEO Oscar Reyes; Asian Institute of Management president-dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang; Palo, Leyte Archbishop John Du; and GMA Network senior vice president for radio Mike Enriquez.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

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