Forgiveness is so easy to say, to give and even to preach when the forgiving persons were not the ones ravaged and damaged, neither the individuals exploited and trampled upon, nor the ones cheated and robbed. And even supposing that the victims themselves of big graft and gross corruption do forgive the culprits, the truth is that these are not forgiven when they are not really repentant, when they simply keep what they stole, when they actually do nothing to repair the damage they did, to undo the injustice they committed. In this case, the ones forgiving must be well commended not only on behalf of humanity but also in the name of the Good Lord. But the ones forgiven remain as culpable, reprehensible and guilty as they really are in reality and fact.
This is the categorical gravity and specific implication of cheating and stealing, of graft and corrupt practices, of the infamous “bukol” and detestable “tongpats” in continuous and phenomenal amounts present in government shadowy deals and devious contracts. This is the intrinsic significance and immediate consequence of pocketing, wasting and fooling around funds. The eventual victims of these crimes perpetrated by key and powerful government officials—who are well above the law—are the people themselves as a whole. They pay direct and indirect taxes to this government with the understanding that public officials would in turn look after peace and order in society, care for their common good and provide them public services.
When someone resides in a palace, give lavish receptions wining and dinning political allies, distributes millions of pesos to loyal followers, who pay? When somebody travels in comfort and affluence around the world, charters a whole plane, frequent expensive hotels, who pay? When someone goes around preceded by many snipping dogs, soldiers carrying arms to the teeth, not to mention one or more accompanying APCs and hovering helicopters, who pay? When somebody inaugurates roads and bridges, introduces self-enhancing programs and projects, who pay? And when someone thereby indulges in graft and corruption, who pay?
The people of the Philippines pay for everything. But this solid and living fact notwithstanding, they are the ones who wallow in poverty and suffer from hunger, they have become thin and sickly milking cows. Their present is bleak and their future dark. They are women who sell their bodies while there are men who sell their kidneys. Families are separated by the well known phenomenon of OFWs by the millions. Still, their pots are empty, their tables remain bare, their stomachs are aching.
Those who pay may readily and generously forgive the liars, cheats and thieves. Theirs is the merit and reward for their forgiving hearts. But those whom they forgive without repenting, without returning what they stole and repairing the damage they did—well…
25 April 2008