Janet Napoles
Janet Napoles

by Eric Santillan

We are in the middle of something really big. The news of Janet Napoles and the Pork Barrel Scandal is hogging the news and the speech of Senator Panfilo Lacson of some years back is being proven correct.

In Conrado de Quiros’ article for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he made the following calculation regarding the purportedly Php10B lost to graft and corruption.

“Ten billion pesos could have: built 1,000 moderately equipped rural health centers; or rehabilitated 1,400 kilometers of provincial roads; or fed 763,475 hungry children for a year; or rehabilitated all the community farms devastated by typhoon “Pablo”; or renovated 5,000 public schools; or bought 10 million books to be used by schools and public libraries; or eradicated the problem of rural communities not having access to clean water; or provided sanitary toilets to 250,000 impoverished families; or built decent housing for 30,000 informal settlers/families; or provided 28,000 IP (indigenous peoples) children access to full primary and secondary education; or given 50,000 farmers with access to micro-insurance for a year; or provided 25,000 scholarship grants for a bachelor’s degree to underprivileged and deserving students; or given health insurance of 625,000 poor Filipinos for 10 years.”

That is how much we lost. That is how what graft and corruption can do to a nation.

This can go down in history as just another story of ningas cogon — a story of whistleblowers who have gone into hiding, their lives destroyed forever, and the corrupt getting away with it again, like they did before. And if that happens, it would be devastating to whistleblowers, and the rest of us and our country. It will have proven that in this country, crime–specially the really big ones–literally pays, and pays a lot. Crime allows you the Imeldific lifestyle of Jean Napoles and her cohorts.

But we are at a critical crossroads and we can change this message. We are making politicians who think they can get away with it think twice. They’re not so sure anymore. People are vigilant. Media is vigilant. The government–at least the good ones who are left–is vigilant.

We are sick and tired of corruption. We feel it in our bones. We talk about it in twitter and facebook. We scream it in rallies. We curse our politicians.

1986 was the year we won back our freedom. I was 7 years old, in Grade 2, during the People Power Revolution. But I remember the feeling of hope and the huge collective sigh of relief. I hope we will look back years from now and tell our grandchildren about this year.

I hope this will be the year we win our pride back. And not just because we won in the FIBA ASIA tournament. This is the year we win our nation back from corruption. This is the turning point, like Jaime Ongpin was a turning point during the Marcos years, like Ninoy’s death was a turning point, like EDSA was. Like Garci was another turning point to a people who will not accept a sad looking face on a very corrupt soul. Like everyone knowing about the ZTE deal and Jun Lozada was another turning point.

This is A turning point.

I hope we look back at 2013 in 2033 and say:

2013? It was a great time to be a Filipino.

About Eric Santillan

AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. During weekends, he does counselling for Clinica Salutare, an Integrative Health Clinic. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current, a core group member of Heroic Leadership Philippines, and a retreat giver.

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