MANILA, Philippines – The pork barrel scam trilogy began last Friday, June 20, when Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr went to jail for plunder and graft charges in a televised, livetweeted event that could be mistaken for a political campaign.
In many ways, it was. Revilla dramatized his arrest by turning to the old reliable elements of a Philippine election campaign: family, fans, and God. He delivered fiery speeches before a throng of supporters gathered at the mansion of his father, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr. He carried a Bible and wore a shirt bearing quotes from it. He passed by a church, embraced a priest, went to court, then drove to jail with family, friends, and supporters, who stayed with him past visiting hours in Camp Crame.
The actor-turned-senator said running for president from jail isn't such a bad idea. If he who belongs to a now minority political party could dream this far, what would stop the more pedigreed Senator Jinggoy Estrada – who is also expected to be detained on Monday, June 23 – from harboring the same ambitions from their newly-built rooms at the Camp Crame custodial center? And how would the 90-year-old Senator Juan Ponce Enrile play it out if and when the court orders his arrest?
The core issue in this long-running scandal, however, is not the 2016 presidential elections. The issue is corruption. Our lawmakers have to prove their innocence in the face of serious allegations from people who said they received bribes for ghost projects.
Yet what we've witnessed the past days has been a bizarre mix of politics and entertainment as the slogans and symbols for 2016 attempt to bury the alleged sins committed in previous years.
Many Filipinos who have seen – and suffered – this many times before say they're appalled by it all.
Is there a way to bring the real issues back in the game? There is – but it hinges, unfortunately, on this government.
For, in the end, the only way to prove that this is a no-nonsense, straightforward campaign against corruption is to bring to jail not just the actors who want to be president or vice president but those who dipped their fingers into the pork barrel jar but are still very much part of this "daang matuwid" (straight path) administration.
Now that will trump all scripts and music videos written and produced in a massive, stunning studio somewhere in Cavite. – Rappler.com