Editorial & Opinion

Bad deeds shouldn’t go unpunished

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Two acts of goodness awed Americans in the past week, one involving a homeless man in Boston who found a backpack containing $2,400 in cash and $39,500 in traveler’s checks and turned it over to the police, and the other a 19-year-old Dairy Queen manager who gave $20 to a vision-impaired customer who lost the amount to an elderly woman who refused to give back the money she had picked up after the former dropped it unknowingly.


The homeless man flagged down a police car to turn over the precious bag, while the store manager had witnessed the elderly woman pick up the $20 bill knowing it belonged to the vision-impaired customer and had demanded that the woman return the money. She refused and the young man asked the woman to get out of the store. He later approached the victim-impaired customer to give him $20 from his own pocket.

Both good Samaritans were in dire need of money. The homeless man was roaming the streets to scavenge for food when he found the bag in front of a department store, where a Chinese tourist had dropped the bag that contained the money and his passport. The store manager has been working since he was 14 to raise money for his college education.

And yet, the homeless man was honest enough to return the money and the store manager was kind enough to give his own $20 to the vision-impaired customer.

They were refreshing stories, especially for Filipinos who have witnessed greed and lack of compassion among their leaders and supposed leading members of their society in the past several weeks. The stark contrast between the two Americans in dire need of money yet selflessly helping complete strangers, and several Filipino officials and businessmen who are awashed with cash and living in mansions and yet yearning for more becomes magnified in the wake of the shamelessness with which the pork barrel scammers robbed the people blind of their money.

The Filipino people continue to be shocked and angered as details of how businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and several senators, congressmen and bureaucrats conspired to pocket billions of pesos in pork barrel funds that were supposed to be allocated for development projects throughout the country.

It’s incomprehensible how these crooks can sleep at night, knowing that they took the money from the people who have looked up to them to deliver them from poverty. It’s revolting how these greedy politicians and businessmen can party and celebrate while the majority of their countrymen wallow in poverty and despair.

No wonder that in the past few years, including the last three years under President Aquino, we have not heard of new roads, bridges, school buildings, health centers, public housing or flood control projects being built. No wonder Philippine agriculture has lagged behind its neighbors because the billions of pesos that should have been spent for constructing farm-to-market roads and irrigation canals or to help farmers purchase seeds, fertilizers and other farm implements are instead going to the pockets of politicians and nefarious businessmen.

No wonder the country continues to be hounded by blackouts because the hundreds of millions of pesos in Malampaya Fund that, by law, should have been used to improve power generation, are being misappropriated by our leaders.

And despite the anger that the scam has generated among the people, these officials continue to hang on to the pork barrel fund as if their lives depended on it. Just last week, a group of congressmen said they would appeal to the Supreme Court to lift its temporary restraining order on the release of pork barrel funds because their constituents who are benefiting from the funds would suffer, like their scholars and people who are given amounts from the fund for their health care.

Wasn’t the Priority Development Assistance Fund designed to finance development projects that would have lasting benefits to the country and the people, and not for individual beneficiaries that only promote the culture of mendicancy? Before, politicians would use their own money for donations to funerals, hospitalizations, scholarships and basketball leagues that are obviously aimed at getting the people’s votes, but now they are using the people’s money for their own political agenda.

Now that the prime suspect, Napoles, is under detention and she and her alleged cohorts are facing charges of plunder, graft and bribery, I hope that the Ombudsman gives priority to the case so that justice can be meted out in the fastest possible time. We don’t want to see this case go the way of other high-profile cases that remain unresolved up to this day – the Ampatuan massacre trial, the Garcia plunder case, the plunder and poll fraud charges against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, etc.

The Filipino people are so trapped in pessimism and hopelessness that nobody seems to believe the major players would be meted prison sentences. The people have so much lost trust in the country’s judicial system and in the integrity and credibility of their leaders that they believe, and seemingly ready to accept, that only the minor bureaucrats would get the deserved punishment for this crime.

This should not happen because if it does, the future generation of Filipinos will continue to accept bribery and corruption as part of a nation’s life. Can you imagine a new generation of Filipinos that believes only through thievery can they succeed in life? Can you imagine a society that does not believe in justice and honesty? Can you imagine a nation where greedy and dishonest individuals are rewarded with fame and power, and hardworking and honest ones are relegated to the margins of society?

We should pressure the government to prosecute the culprits in the pork barrel scam and that all guilty, whether friend or foe of the Aquino administration, must be meted the maximum punishment. We should pressure Aquino to abolish the pork barrel system, which is the biggest source of corruption in the government. We should pressure Aquino to make good on his promise of reform. We should never let go, never allow this biggest thievery in our country’s history to go the way of all other scandals in the past.

Let us listen to former Chief Justice Reynato Puno when he called for the abolition of this evil called pork. He said: “The fight against evil requires that we not only start the fight but we finish the fight. The fight against evil demands a period. The fight cannot be postponed by a comma, cannot be suspended by a ceasefire. Evil deserves but one end—defeat.”

The homeless man and the store manager are reaping the rewards for their good deeds. Americans who were inspired by the homeless man’s selfless act have put up a fund for the man that has now raised more than $100,000 and growing. People touched by the young store manager’s generous act have offered him jobs and educational assistance. Foot traffic to the Dairy Queen store he manages has doubled since and the food chain owner, billionaire Warren Buffet, has personally called to commend him.

In contrast, the greedy and shameless businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats who are responsible for the biggest theft on earth should be meted the maximum possible punishment, and their wealth garnished and channeled to projects for the people.

Good deeds don’t come unnoticed; bad deeds shouldn’t go unpunished.

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The Filipino Express

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