After the Supreme Court dismissed the plunder case against her, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gamely posed for a selfie with her lawyer Raul Lambino as if to show the world that hey, now that I’m free I don’t have to pretend I need a neck brace.
Kudos to the makeup artist too! The contour was well done with just the right tinge of bronze on the apples of the cheeks. It’s even poetic, actually. Looks like three or more coats of the thickest foundation have been applied to Arroyo’s face in order to achieve that airbrush effect—truly an embodiment of the Filipino jibe ang kapal ng mukha!
But of course there will always be party poopers. Not everybody will be happy that you’re one or two paperwork away from freedom, especially if—you know—you’re a criminal.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales disagrees with the 11-4 SC decision that states there is “insufficiency of evidence” to prove that Arroyo and former PCSO budget officer Benigno Aguas have indeed illegally accrued millions of lottery funds. Morales also warns of another possible plunder case against the former president.
And then we have the blame game. Because eight of the 11 justices who voted to acquit Arroyo were her own appointees, many say that the verdict was just like any of Kim Chiu’s new projects: a disappointment waiting to happen.
Others point their finger at the Aquino administration for not presenting a prosecution case strong enough to warrant conviction. Senator Koko Pimentel also weighs in saying that a number of accused PCSO underlings have already been declared not guilty therefore Arroyo’s acquittal was not surprising at all. Kung mga empleyado nga na-acquit, dating presidente pa kaya?
It’s really appalling how headlines of Arroyo’s acquittal go side-by-side with reports about the rampant summary executions of alleged petty criminals and drug dealers. Pictures of Arroyo’s evil smile are juxtaposed with photos of dead men wrapped in paper and duct tape.
Indeed, justice has seemingly been reduced to a popular hashtag for reasons that are completely opposite to its very essence.
Arroyo’s imminent freedom proves what most of us already know: that the Philippines is a country marred by a culture of impunity. Another former president was actually convicted of plunder but still went on to become a city mayor. Arroyo herself won a congressional seat by landslide following nine years of presidency that’s rife with corruption accusations and human rights violations. And to this day, no one has still paid for the abomination that is the Maguindanao Massacre.
Powerful people could easily commit crimes and get away with it. Meanwhile, the smaller criminals get prosecuted in the streets and everybody celebrates as if these lives were as disposable as a used condom.
While I too hate drugs and snatchers as much as the next person, I hold a deeper seated hatred against those in power who take advantage of the people’s tendency to ignore and forget their sins. They know that we are used to hunger, to the elusiveness of proper employment, to the dismal institutional support for all forms of social services. They know that we rarely cry for accountability from our leaders.
At the end of the day, most of us would celebrate hundreds upon hundreds of urban criminal killings without looking into why drug users and snatchers exist in the first place. And while we’re at it, criminals like Arroyo run free with nothing to fear and nothing to worry about—a few more weeks and it’s as if they didn’t do anything wrong, ready to live a lifestyle so lavish using the wealth that’s not even theirs.
The featured image is from Rappler.