Jojo A. Robles

Serve, yield, repeat

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Serve, surrender, detain. If the process is repeated three times, most people will hopefully be convinced that justice has already been served and nothing more needs to be done.

 

The people doing the hoping, of course, are those who are working overtime to make sure that these three senators—and only these three senators —get what’s coming to them. The fact that none of the three seem to want to go into any more detail about the charges leveled against them, even in their own defense, will ensure that the fire has been contained and will never reach Malacañang itself.

I’ve not spoken highly of most members of the Senate since the trial and conviction two years ago of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, who I believe was removed from office on the behest of President Noynoy Aquino after huge infusions of pork barrel funds were made to members of Congress as a whole—and to our “distinguished” senators, in particular. I believe that those who profited from Aquino’s insistence that Corona be removed at all costs are now paying the price of taking the money proffered and going along with Malacañang’s plan.

Well, some of them are being made to pay, at least. But if you think that these three senators now in various stages of arrest and incarceration are the only ones who were complicit— both in the operation of the kangaroo court that removed Corona and in the pocketing of major portions of the de facto bribes offered by the palace to get that done—then you’ve been drinking too much of Malacañang’s Kool-Aid.

At some level, I’ll grant that watching the three senators serially served, surrender and detained satisfies some outraged sense of justice. If the spectacle didn’t make good copy, after all, the major networks and other media outlets wouldn’t be falling all over themselves reporting everything the distinguished suspects have done in the past week, from the clothes they wore when the warrants against them were issued, the food they ate while about to surrender and everything else that they willingly overshared as they traveled ever so slowly from their homes to detention.

But the political telenovela unfolding before us, while it also obviously serves the purpose of the honorable suspects of portraying themselves (unsuccessfully, for the most part) as victims, is certainly being stage-managed by Malacañang in its pursuit of several objectives. That there is a more sinister purpose being served by the wall-to-wall coverage of the legal travails of these honorable suspected plunderers should be clear to anyone who does not need people like Herminio Coloma and Edwin Lacierda to tell them what to think before making a conclusion.

* * *

Of course, foremost of Malacañang’s objectives in the serial serve-surrender-detain drama is to show that Aquino has once again struck a blow for justice and against corruption. This shameless co-opting of the pork barrel scandal has been going on for some time now, as if Benhur Luy and his fellow whistleblowers had not started it all by deciding to start their own lucrative pork barrel scams under the nose of Janet Lim Napoles, who then went after them in retaliation.

The secondary purpose is to protect Aquino and all of his allies and subordinates, whether in Congress or the Executive. This is no small goal, considering that the Supreme Court is supposed to rule on July 1 on the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the pork fund Aquino and his chief sidekick and adviser Florencio Abad invented to bribe Congress with after the regular Congress pork (which they had already tripled) didn’t seem enough to convict Corona.

And Aquino needs to have three senators put in jail not only because he can use this accomplishment in his upcoming State of the Nation speech as proof of his commitment to the straight path. After being put on the defensive with the previous 14-0 Supreme Court ruling on PDAF and the upcoming—and logically adverse—decision on DAP, Aquino needs to go on the offensive and protect himself, Abad and all the other beneficiaries of palace largesse.

A third purpose is the employment of the current political circus for the usual diversionary reasons. If the people are regaled by the legal travails of three senators, they will have less time to think about the escalating prices of rice and other goods, the seemingly exponential rise in crime and even the alleged disappearance of Aquino himself, who has gone AWOL again since being last seen in public when he was heckled in Naga City on Independence Day.

Make no mistake: Malacañang has latched onto this serve-surrender-detain drama as if the very life of this administration depended on it—which, to a certain extent, it really does. And media is, sadly, acting like a perfectly willing accomplice in a grand scheme to dupe the people it should actually inform, by its blanket coverage of this long drawn-out non-event.

 

Of course, you can decide to swallow it all up like the unthinking, uncritical cattle that Malacañang thinks you have been for the past four years. And will remain for two years more.

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