By Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS
With the election of Rodrigo Duterte, The Punisher and Dirty Harry of Davao, as the next president of the Philippines, are the Filipinos headed towards a healthier, safer, and corruption-free nation?
This is most certainly a tall order, which realistically could take decades to accomplish, but The Punisher promised he would achieve this much sooner…”in six months.” Obviously, the voters believed him.
The PNoy Aquino administration has impressively initiated an earnest battle against graft and corruption with his Daang Matuwid theme, sending his predecessor, former president Gloria Arroyo, charged with plunder, to hospital arrest, hopefully to jail soon, dethroning Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona for failure to declare his SALN and unexplained wealth, and sending to jail Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla plus dozens of other indicted corrupt politicians, awaiting trial. The PNoy administration has been fighting a deeply-entrenched, decades-old, massive culture of graft and corruption pervasive in the government, and history will credit him for his genuine valiant endeavors against all odds during his 6-year term.
Unfortunately, Enrile was released by some members of the Supreme Court “because he was old and frail,” a misplaced compassion to which I had taken exception in my previous column, where I countered that “if Enrile was not too old and frail to commit plunder he should not be too old to go to jail for this most vicious crime against our country, a crime whose penalty was death under our previous Constitution.” This was, indeed, a travesty of justice.
President-elect Duterte also wants to bring back death penalty. While death penalty will not totally eliminate plunder and other ferocious crimes, it certainly could act as a deterrent. When convicted corrupt leaders in some Asian countries are executed by a firing squad in a public square, which we, a “compassionate and forgiving Christian nation” describe as “barbaric,” corruption in those countries has been minimized. So, are we really not more “barbaric” when we allow plunderers to ruin our nation, its integrity, and its marginalized people and get unpunished?
Do you think any of our government officials would even think of committing plunder if the penalty was death, and the sentence carried out expeditiously? This is a vicious crime, and as Duterte stated, we must be brutal when we fight corrupt officials and those dealing in drug. His phenomenal election is a clear mandate for him to be brutal in cleansing the nation of plunderers, drug dealers, corrupt policemen and military, and all other criminals, and equally ruthless in eliminating poverty in the Philippines where more than a third of the people are homeless and hungry, courtesy of these criminals with deep pockets walking in the halls of Congress and all the way to the bank.
NO PARDON FOR ARROYO, ENRILE, JINGGOY & BONG PLEASE
If Duterte is sincere and true to his promises, his first act should be to declare no presidential pardon for Arroyo, Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and all other officials now in jail, if they are found guilty. Let’s see what he does with the Binay family and other officials on his list. Let’s see if The Punisher will honor our constitution and strictly implement our penal codes, with justice for all.
Since we claim to be a nation of laws, we must not allow anybody to be above the law. If government officials, who must justifiably be held to a higher standard, commit the crime of plunder or any crime, they must be treated like common criminals and dealt with even more severely. They did not have compassion for our poor people languishing in the gutter of poverty and for our devastated nation, who are really the collateral victims of their greed, so these plunderers deserve no compassion at all from our legal system or from We, The People.
Hopefully, The Punisher will eliminate all the extravagant amenities elite prisoners currently enjoy in jail, like larger cells, with special beds and furniture, air-conditioning, televisions, microwave, computers, a mini-gym for exercise, etc. in their own cell, where they even hold “bonga” parties at their leisure. All these cost the tax payers hundreds of millions a year, money that could help alleviate poverty instead. The jail cell must be a punishment (not a reward) for criminals, not a house of luxury. They must be provided a jail cell with a bed, a fan, light, ordinary toilet facilities, and reading materials, like what other criminals (with lesser offense) get in stricter countries. These VIP plunderers deserve Papillon and not the Ritz Carlton or even Hotel Sogo.
The jail administrators and officials who had allowed this insult to our justice system and the loss of perhaps billions of pesos over the years from the federal coffers happen, must all be indicted and charged accordingly, and if found guilty, and not only fired, but jailed themselves.
Our president-elect also plans to make the Philippines a smoke-free nation. Smokers are spraying the air with second-hand poison smoke which is even more toxic, causing respiratory tract infection, emphysema, chronic obstructive lung disease, heart disease, and cancers. Indeed, the public should not be forced to inhale carcinogen-polluted air. Human rights for the few must be second only to majority rights and national health.
Duterte’s surprising phenomenal victory symbolizes the people’s impatient desire to eliminate graft and corruption among our government officials, military, policemen, and drug dealers and common criminals in our society. Well-informed Filipinos are simply fed up.
The people have spoken clearly and loudly. The Punisher has been elected. Let’s give Duterte his due to cleanse the nation in his own unconventional way, like what he did for Davao, which has been a more peaceful, healthier, and safer place for law-abiding citizens since he was elected mayor. Plunder, drug dealing, kurakot, and other crimes will not stop until the plunderers, drug dealers, and the common criminals are eliminated or jailed for good.
When we consider Dirty Harry’s “modus operandi,” let us remember with compassion the more than 30 million fellow Filipinos who are homeless and hungry, who, together with their children go to bed at night, not only with empty stomach but with empty dreams and a nightmare for a future. Let us not forget the shame we, Filipinos, face being notorious as the world’s most corrupt nation, a laughing stock of the global community.
If Duterte could save our nation by eliminating the plunderers, drug dealers, and other criminals, and rebuild the Philippine society, let him be severely brutal against all criminals proven guilty. And that is the only boundary We, The People, should set for him as he metes out justice, if we sincerely love and want to save our suffering fellowmen and demoralized nation and gain the respect of the world.
We must all either put up, or shut up and give Duterte a chance to do his job freely and judge him later. We owe him, the people’s choice, at least that much.