Stretch your memory and recall that the national broadband project controversy is simply one of many anomalies that suggest the depths of the morass into which this regime has opted to drown itself. Aside from the customary string of denials, Malacañang’s allies treated it not as a moral issue but as something that should be ironed out so as to pre-empt the disintegration of the dominant alliance in Congress. What concerned them was the fact that the whistleblower happens to be the son of House Speaker Jose de Venecia.
Had it been expedient, the Palace would have readily dumped the elder de Venecia as House leader. Considering, however, the political mood at the moment Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was forced to retain a tenuous alliance with the Speaker. The broadband project scandal, fresh on the heels of the reported payoffs given to governors and House members, allegedly to preempt another impeachment complaint, heightened disenchantment with her presidency.
The supposed role of the First Gentleman in the questionable deal worsened her position, and it did not help that her daughter Luli called de Venecia’s son a former drug addict. The public was more concerned over the perceived addiction of the presidential spouse to brokering megabuck transactions.
The tragedy did not end there. For Arroyo would soon commit another act of treachery: the grant of pardon to former president Joseph Estrada as soon as the court pronounced him guilty of plunder. Shortly after, her high officials tested public pulse on the possible release of convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos, a former congressman. Forgiveness is a Christian value. But it becomes dubious when used for self-serving political ends. (It can always be said that Arroyo’s pardon of Estrada is an insurance in case of a reversal of political fortune, that is, in the event that an ally of his becomes the next president.)
What make the cases of Estrada and Jalosjos special compared to those of other convicts many of whom were jailed for lesser offenses? Other robbers stole for survival. Estrada plundered a country to maintain a lifestyle highlighted by vices. Jalosjos raped a child and was meted a life sentence. So did other rapists.
There is no greater or lesser rape. Rape is rape. Yet the special attention given to the former lawmaker might make potential rapists think of getting a high public office first before abusing women – or children.
And as this column was being written, convicted priest killer Norberto Manero was about to be released from prison. Manero and his brothers, all members of the dreaded Ilaga (Rat) gang in Cotabato, murdered Italian missionary Tullio Favali in 1985 on suspicions that the victim was a supporter of the communist movement.
I am not familiar with the legal merits of Manero’s release. Nonetheless, it serves as an ironic postscript to the recent killing of another priest in the South, Fr. Rey Roda of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. But I almost forgot, this is the Year of the Rat.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno received in 1987 the Jose W. Diokno Award for winning in a national editorial writing contest sponsored by Ang Pahayagang Malaya and the family of the late senator.)