Sep 062013

JANET Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, had a good night’s sleep on her fifth day of detention at a police camp in Laguna, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Friday.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said Napoles “verbalized that she had a good sleep” inside her spruced up detention room inside Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Napoles also had a good serving of scrambled egg, meat loaf and rice for breakfast around 6:30 a.m., Sindac added.” (From Philstar, 6 Sept. 2013)

I was out of the country for the last couple of weeks, and had missed the Janet Napoles saga for that duration. Coming back into the country, these were the stuff of headlines that greeted me. The only thing I could think about was – how lucky for the rich!

Lucky indeed.

Spruced up detention room all to herself? Most common criminals have to content themselves with a cramped and dirty detention cell, often shared with forty other inmates. A jail in Sta. Rosa? She is neighbours with the rich and famous of the posh subdivisions there. And a breakfast of scrambled egg, meat loaf and rice? Lucky for her, because in most jails, the only thing they get is a scoop of rice and some salt to eat.

But this is how the cookie crumbles for the rich. Remember Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo, who had to be transported to her cell in a helicopter?

Remember Mayor Joseph Estrada, when he himself was incarcerated? Not exactly jail time for them, right? More like rest and relaxation time.

The treatment of Napoles aside, I don’t think anyone was really surprised to learn that something like that was going on, and involving high government officials at that. Corruption is endemic in our society, and by that, I mean it is everywhere.

From the highest echelons of public office, to the lowest official on the bureaucracy.

Everyone is involved. And not just in public service, but the private sector as well.

It is difficult to put your finger on the issue. Why is the problem so pervasive?

And why is it so difficult to stop? For sure, there are moral and cultural, even religious issues at play here. But to me, the concern is primarily economic.

Supply and demand. People have so many demands – so many wants that they like to satisfy.

And their supply of money is limited. So what do they do? They attempt to increase their supply, in order to meet their demand. The answer is corruption.

The problem is that our consumerist society enslaves everyone to the desire for accumulation. How much is an iPhone? How many people who logically could not afford iPhones have them? So how did they get them? Go figure? And what about flash cars?

And nice clothes? Vacations? Condominiums? How many people desire to have them. And how many can truly afford them without resorting to ill-gotten wealth?

Do I blame material things for causing the problem? Certainly not? People wanting them even when they cannot afford the same are the problem.

The question is, can they even control their desires? Can they resist the pressure cooker of a consumerist society, which tempts them at every turn?

Certainly, it is a matter of choice. Not everyone joins in on the shenanigans. But how many are so inclined to remain above the fray? For the many who are weak of heart, and soft of backbone, there is no other choice but to resort to shady ways.

(http://asbb-foreignexchange &

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 07, 2013.

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