Make no mistake about this.
The bride is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The bribe is the P200 to P500 thousand cold cash that the bride allegedly gave the brave, Fr. Ed Panlilio, governor of Pampanga, the bride’s home province.
The story is flat and simple. The bride needed help. She summoned the brave and his company from all over the realm to her snake-infested nest and, as host, lectured them on the ways of staying in power. Then, the brave was allegedly bribed to enlist that help.
That was over breakfast last October 11. After the lecture, and perhaps, assessment of the guests’ inclination towards her and her general conduct in office, she bid them adieu, adieu, adieu.
On their way out, some nest functionaries with call cards bearing without no doubt the seal of official government, allegedly handed out the bribe—amounting from P200 thousand to P500,000 in crisp P1,000 bills still bundled (I saw it on TV) on narrow strips of paper customary of what the banks regularly do—to the brave and his colleagues.
The brave was not able to sleep. Being an honest man, his conscience pricked him. He announced he was given money by the nest’s occupants, for what reason he did not say. From where, he did not bother to know. By whom, he surely remembered: it did not come from the White House. It came from someone from Malacanang Palace who is widely believed is not supposed to be there in the first place. End of story.
End of story? No. A crime of monumental proportion has been committed inside the very bowels of what is supposed to be a bastion of the fight against crime—all crimes in their most despicable forms—and we are hoping for a good ending?
Nagkalagayan para magkapalagayan. Nasuhulan. Nanuhol. Bribery. Bribed. Greased. This was what the story was all about. It doesn’t matter now whether the money came from Barabas, or Judas, or from an archangel, or from jueteng, or from PAGCOR, or from Gloria’s intelligence fund, or from the people’s taxes. What should be of interest to students of government—and to the Filipino people in general who have been had and continue to be had by the Macapagal-Arroyo government—is the depths to where this administration will submerge itself headlong and head first to the gutter of corruption to get what it wants. Even mafia-style.
That’s what matters now. Never mind the sidebars, the tsismis through SMS, the arterial stories, which branched out from the main lode of the tale after the tale became public. (The Philippines is the gossip capital of the world, remember?) These are peripheral to the crime. They grew wilder as the main story took the winding alleys tothe coffee shops, the squatter colonies, the middle-class subdivisions, the corporate boardrooms, and the manicured lawns tended by uniformed, underpaid super-maids of the country’s rich and famous.
Just to demonstrate the impact of this crime, I’ll tell you a story. Yesterday, in one of the government offices where I transacted official business, I saw an official who came from a meeting in Malacanang. And what do you think his staff asked him the moment he arrived at his desk?
“Binigyan ka ba ng pera doon?” (Were you given money there?) The official, on the top of his voice, shouted, “Hindi, ‘no!” (No, I wasn’t given any money.) Then, somebody retorted, “Halika Sec, may two hundred ka dito.” (Come, Sec, you have two hundred here.) obviously in allusion to what resigned COMELEC Benjamin Abalos allegedly told former NEDA secretary-general Romulo Neri during one of those discussions on the infamous NBN-ZTE contract. The employees burst into laughter at this exchange.
See what this crime of bribery did to salaried government employees? It made them pityingly envious, but they translated this envy into making their government a laughing stock. How about the poor citizens who have nothing to eat? How do they react to this sorry episode? I am interested in what they would say.
So I rant. I seethe in murderous rage over how our top officials have sold themselves to the highest bidder, which is the devil. Do I rant because I was not a beneficiary of the bribe? No, thank you. I survive on one-dollar a day, that’s the official UNDP description of how Third World citizens like me live.
I fulminate against the bribery because the believed offeror of the bribe professes to be a staunch Christian. OK. I will re-cast the statement: I fulminate against the bribery because the alleged bribe offeror is a hypocrite Christian, who happens to be a consummate politician. Any quarrel with that? Manigas kayo.
Now, this hypocrite Christian regularly announces that she will wipe out graft and corruption during her watch. Owws! Talaga? Sige nga, Ma’am, at nang ang mga kababayan ko naman sa Romblon ay matuwa. Matagal na silang walang pinagtatawanan.
In Asi, my language, there are two words equivalent to one Tagalog word descriptive of the greedy who goes to the extent of offering bribes to get what he or she wants.
These are “hakog” and “kaguran”.
So, we say in a bilingual fashion, “The GMA administration is hakog ag kaguran.
Incidentally, a phrase and a word--one in English and one in Asi--of relevant meanings can also be derived from “hakog” and “kaguran”.
These are, “Ok, hag” and “naraguk”. The English word you can figure the meaning; the Asi word means nabatukan in Tagalog. In English, it means “hit on the nape.”
I can hit the bride on the nape, return the bribe, and hope that the tribe of the brave increases.