Friday, October 26, 2007

Was that the fastest pardon of a convicted, corrupt and unrepentant ex-President ever?

Here's the list--

1. Former South Korea President Chun Doo Hwan was convicted for, among other crimes, accepting $275 Million in bribes. He was sentenced to life in prison. How much time did he serve in an actual prison before he was pardoned by President Kim Dae Jung? Two years.

2. Former South Korean President Roh Tae Woo was also convicted for the same charges of bribery with Chun and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Like his predecessor Chun, he also served two years in prison before being pardoned. After their pardons, both Chun and Roh also publicly apologized for their crimes.

3. Former Argentine president and junta-co-dictator Jorge Videla was convicted of various human rights violations ranging from torture to murder during Argentina's post-Peron "dirty war" period. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1985. He served five years before being pardoned in 1990 by a later successor, President Carlos Menem. But it didn't end there: that pardon was revoked by the Argentine Supreme Court in April this year. The court reinstated Videla's conviction and sent him back to prison.

4. And here’s an example that might prompt a nod of recognition, involving as it does a corrupt female leader and her corrupt husband. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto didn’t go to jail for corruption charges involving $1.5 Billion in ill-gotten wealth. But her husband did. He was imprisoned for eight years, before being allowed to post bail. Bhutto herself went into a long exile abroad.

But before you can make that wish for the same fate to befall some other, more familiar, couple, here’s the twist. Last week, Pakistani military dictator Parvez Musharraf (who himself, as military chief, enjoys the corrupt proceeds of a $5 billion military-controlled industrial and commercial empire) granted Bhutto and her husband amnesty. Bhutto then decided to end her exile, clearly expecting some kind of perverted heroine’s homecoming or even a political resurrection courtesy of Musharraf, her new partner-in-impunity. Instead, her convoy was bombed. She survived, but there is clearly a lesson to be learned there, in that rubble.

Elsewhere in those parts of the world that are arguably as corrupt as ours, corrupt ex-leaders (and, in the last case, the spouse of one) were made to serve a significant length of time in prison before they were granted pardon or amnesty. No, don’t argue that Erap already served six years of his life sentence, more than his fellow criminals in our examples. Those other corrupt ex-dictators and ex-presidents did not serve time in some non-prison contemplating the harshness of rest house life while eating lechon every other day. They suffered for their crimes. Some of them even actually regretted what they did and asked for forgiveness. Estrada? This criminal and his pardoner just chalked up another ignominious record for the Philippines -- a pardon issued only 1 month and 2 weeks after conviction, with not a single day of that period being spent in prison.

(Next post, I will finish what I started the other day. Or maybe, if I can get rid of autumn-induced laziness, I can come up with an answer to the question: can the People of the Philippines still charge the pardoned Estrada with a new and different crime, not barred by double jeopardy, and punishable with up to 14 years in prison under Section 4 of Republic Act 9160?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


About a century ago, I wrote --

In my next posts, I will most likely deal with the following things, listed in no particular order:

1. The present PCGG and why Imelda Marcos likes loves them.
2. The Philippine military and why some of the worst human rights violators in the AFP also have the most atrocious English
3. Where I will be working soon. Or maybe now, depending on when I finally get to write the next post."

And so.

Let's start with 1 first.

1. Imelda now says she doesn't want a settlement with the PCGG. So, who wanted a settlement with Imelda? The PCGG? Or just Commissioner Ric Abcede? PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio has recently been the subject of unflattering news reports involving P10 Million in government mondey that should have been remitted to the Treasury. Sabio admits to having received the money from two real estate companies that Marcos crony J.Y. Campos 'surrendered' (that's the term the PCGG uses for assets that are no longer sequestered but were ceded to the Government by admitted Marcos cronies), namely Mid-Pasig Land Corporation (MPLC) and Independent Realty Corporation (IRC).

(Both MPLC and IRC, by the way, have their common and relatively modest office on the ground floor of the same building along EDSA where the PCGG is. In fact, IRC used to own the building, until the (Yorac-led) PCGG completed the transfer of its title to the Republic.)

Sabio says he can defend his receipt of the P10 Million "in Plaza Miranda." Now, I don't know how many Filipinos, on one hand, still remember what that means and how many Filipinos who heard what Sabio said thought it odd, if not reckless, for a somewhat frail PCGG Chairman to be running around Plaza Miranda carrying P10 Million in his pockets, while trying to convince the multitudes in Quiapo that he accepted the P10 Million innocently. Maybe he did and I'm inclined to think of Mil Sabio as being naive enough to think that. The problem is that the money -- apparently booked in the corporations' ledgers as part of IRC/MPLC's operating income -- should have gone to the Treasury (and, according to Republic Act 6657, Section 33(b), to be spent specifically for agrarian reform). I hope Sabio sorts this out soon, before the present PCGG's credibility sinks lower.

But I digress, although I did want to write about how the PCGG's credibility has probably sunk lower than how it was just before the Yorac-led PCGG came in after the Estrada administration's own series of PCGG disasters. Commissioner Ric Abcede's contribution to the PCGG's sinking (or re-sinking) is so massive, his fellow commissioners could have slept through most of 2006 and 2007 and would still have woken up to find themselves collectively submerged in their sunken ship.

More tomorrow. Or next week. Basta soon.

Avelino Razon as "Tsip-PNP" is your average...

human rights-unfriendly, politico-bootlicking police general, but with the bonus of being already known for the company he has kept. I didn't realize he had been appointed "tsip-PNP" which is how Pinoy policemen call that person who has taken his turn at that fountain of corruption and parody of law enforcement leadership. It is so apt, since the Mendozas, Ebdanes Esperons and now Razons of the PNP are indistinguishably-mediocre and uniformly useless in restoring any drop of faith in the police unifom. And Razon -- yes, he is the same Razon about whom I posted this before and will now sort of post again, for my own satisfaction.

Now back to lurking in my own blog...