EDSA II-B: Total Cancer Excision

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The easy task of ridding Malacanang of Joseph Ejercito Estrada alias Erap, Asiong Salonga, Jose Velarde, etc., has been accomplished in a swift and truly inspiring bloodless People Power EDSA II revolution, reminiscent of the original one inspired by Ninoy's assasination in 1986. Now comes the harder mission, People Power EDSA II-B: to bring to justice Erap, his cronies, and the 11 senator-judges who openly suppressed evidence and obstructed justice by voting not to open the "second envelope" that contained damaging bank documents allegedly linking Erap to the ill-gotten 3.3 billion-peso secret account under the name Jose Velarde. If it there is any indication that these 11 disciples of Erap had in fact accepted bribe money from the President Estrada as alleged, or received any form of favor or payment from the President in exchange for their votes at the aborted impeachment proceedings, they, together with Erap, must be tried in the court of law to determine guilt or innocence. And, if it is true that Erap defense head lawyer Estelito Mendoza, who has swiftly fled the country like a scared rabbit, was personally privy to, and involved in, executing the "money-laundering" paper works in the bank account of Erap under the alias Jose Velarde, then he, too, was obvious party to an illegal act, and must be indicted and brought to trial. Everyone involved in the "Juetengate" scandal, bribery, corruption, money laundering, and other criminal actions against our constitution, our country and our people must face the wrath of justice.

It is not enough for the people to boot out of office a public official who has committed or allegedly committed a crime, be he the president, a legislator, or whatever. It is not enough for the erring official to leave office and even surrender to the government their ill-gotten wealth. The perpetrator must be held accountable and tried in court to face the consequences of his/her action. We must apply equal justice to and for all, regardless of political, social, religious, or economic position in life of the lawbreaker. For a specific criminal offense, a corresponding sentence must be meted out in accordance with the laws of the land, without consideration as to who the criminal is. No one, not even the president or our legislators, must be above the law. No one charged with a crime must be exempt from undergoing trial in our justice system. If anything at all, our leaders, especially the president, our legislators and other public officials, must be held to a higher standard of justice and accountability than private citizen Juan dela Cruz, and not the other way around.

It was obvious that many of our government officials, from the president to the legislators, had not learned their lesson from the EDSA I People Power revolt of 1986, and we must now make sure that this mistake is not repeated. We must make the impact of EDSA II-B so blatant and dramatic as to make more lasting impressions on the minds of our politicians, present and future. Our politicians should be made to understand that crime does not pay, that we, the people, will make damn sure that they do not get away with any crime scot-free, and that we shall not hesitate to send them to jail, if found guilty, no matter how high the position in the government they occupy. Let us send them the message that it is no longer business as usual. That the padrino, kurakot and lagay system is out, and that leadership with total transparency, honesty and accountability among all public officials is in. And above all, that the new and more vigilant Filipinos, who have inspired the world with two successful expeditious, peaceful and bloodless revolutions, are getting to be experts in harnessing People Power and will not hesitate to stage an anchor and add another numeral to EDSA II whenever abuse or corruption among any public official demands it.

Total transparency must be mandatory for every public office holder, from the president down the line, and for all future candidates and appointees, national or local, and this requisite must be fully enforced, just like in the United States, where full disclosure of candidates allow the voters a more secure insight into each and everyone of them, thus establishing confidence and trust. Surrendering personal privacy in the pursuit of a public office is a fair price for a politician to pay for the privilege of occupying an office of public trust. Each official must be required, not only to make bare to the public annually his/her current personal financial status and business involvements, but also to explain how the assets were acquired, and how much corresponding taxes were paid the government for those. With the strict enforcement of this legal requirement, which will allow the people to scrutinize the financial statement of our public leaders, we shall minimize corruption and unexplained wealth among our government officials.

Our country needs a fresh start in a bold fashion, with substance and not only style, if we are to regain public confidence in our government and the trust of the world and the community of international investors. We have to show the whole world that we are truly a proud, peace-loving, and justice-seeking people, prudently exercising democracy to the hilt, and that EDSA I and II were not empty and hollow revolutions. We, the people, must now start the healing process and work real hard as a nation united to achieve a new reputation around the world as a country with an honest, just and efficient government, a safe and enjoyable place for tourists to visit, and a great haven for foreign and local investors. Without graft and corruption in our national and local government, our bankrupt economy will have a better chance to recover and poverty among our people ameliorated.

Since the fuse that led to the recent uprising at EDSA was the evident graft and corruption and crime committed against our constitution, our country and our people, it behooves President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as an initial step in her plans for our national economic recovery, to make sure that the ousted president, his cronies, and all other co-conspirators, are promptly indicted and justly tried. This will not only teach all our politicians a more lasting lesson on accountability and justice, but also show the whole of mankind that the Philippines is ready to join the big league.

The voice of the people at EDSA and the rest of the country rang out loud and clear, and President Arroyo must heed their call for justice, or herself gain their fury and indignation.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.