The suffering of the PDAF 3
As expected, there’s been a huge outcry over the “special treatment” of three senators accused of ransacking the public till. Why are they exempted from the overcrowding and meager diets that ordinary detainees must endure every day, the public asks?
Unfortunately, it may be a flaw in our national character that we like kicking people we detest when they’re down. Thus, I am always suspicious of the spontaneous wisdom of the mob. Its logic goes: “The detained senators must not be suffering because they have comfortable quarters.” Uh, not so fast, Netizen.
Not all prisons are behind bars. And the mere provision of comfort doesn’t necessarily spell humane treatment.
Ponder this: A recent execution by lethal injection in Texas caused alarm when the condemned man was left gasping for breath in apparent pain for two hours. To prevent similar episodes in the future, a judge called for the return of the firing squad. You want comfort? There’s your comfort.
My point is, despite popular belief, the detained senators, human beings in their own ways, are indeed suffering.
Yes, they’re in shacks of their own inside a military camp away from the hard cases. Yes, they have indefinite visiting hours. No, they don’t subsist on prison-issue rice and galunggong but on catered food brought by relatives. Yes, the authorities had to finally put a stop to late night drinking soirees with showbiz visitors. No, they’re not sharing bunks with tattooed hulks who may or may not have amorous designs. So what? They’re still suffering and suffering enough.
Pity the poor Senator Jinggoy Estrada. He must be simmering in frustration at suddenly finding himself the newfound poster boy for the old adage, “The fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” Fingered by a would-be state witness who brought the very cookie jar he dipped his hand into—in his own office—he can only be deeply embarrassed at having been cornered like an amateur shoplifter. Ouch. He’s suffering all right, oh, yes he is.
On top of that, Senator Jinggoy has to watch that half-brother senator he has been feuding with go about merrily in the corridors of power, untainted, and most likely gloating behind his back, “Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah! Look, who’s in trouble now?” Tell me Jinggoy is not stewing in toxic resentment. Tell me his humiliation is not nearly equal to getting buggered in a prison shower.
Or imagine Sen. Bong Revilla, hapless behind his forced bravado of a grin, unceremoniously deposited in a bungalow so bare Ma’am Lani thought of remodeling it. It has no air-conditioning and it’s infested with rats. My goodness, there’s room for only one kind of vermin in there. (And by the way, there are cockroaches, too.)
And while that enthusiastic Bong lookalike failed to stand in for him in jail, what if—okay, it’s farfetched–but just what if, the rascal succeeded at home? The thought must niggle somehow (and if doesn’t it should), which must be pure psychological hell for the manly senator. He’s not suffering? Don’t tell me no, you heartless rabble.
Then there’s proud Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile—top enforcer of martial law, a star of the EDSA revolt, former president of the Senate, statesman of the Corona impeachment trial, author of a best-selling autohagiography. Poor Senator Johnny, cut down to size just when the public was going gaga over his book, and he was threatening to write another volume due to popular demand. Sadly, that’s how the mighty fall. The higher they soar, the louder they go splotch.
As of this writing Senator Enrile, a man of a really, truly, certifiably certain age, is still being mercilessly denied the rejuvenating presence of his longtime aide. Why put Senator Johnny and Gigi in separate camps? That’s cruel and gratuitous punishment. Even Dracula could have access to youthful blood, at least before daybreak, or that sharp stake in the heart, whichever came first. If Enrile’s suffering is not industrial-grade, I don’t know what is.
Listen, people. Putting errant high officials in regular jails to mingle with their counterparts in society’s lower depths would only be counterproductive. Grappling with the sheer material deprivation and physical dangers of regular prison would only keep their minds off the spiritual ordeal they deserve.
In fact, to make sure that graftors in office are duly tormented when caught, and since we can expect more prosecutions in the legislature, Congress should revise the penal code to institutionalize a “Special Suffering Zone” for elected miscreants who got at least a prescribed percentage of the vote. As Sen. Bong Revilla explained in his court papers, he’s entitled to suffer in separate quarters because, after all, he received “20 million votes.”
It’s not a bad idea. The President should set aside several millions from DAP to fast track the construction of a dedicated prison annex attached to the Batasan.
It would be a one-stop shop for prosecuting congressional graft-and-corruptors, with outlets of the Sandiganbayan, the lower courts, the Supreme Court, a hospital for repeated “medical checkups,” 24-hour visitors’ lounges with karaokes, caterers, a nightclub or at least a wet bar, legal marriage-neutral conjugal visiting quarters and a fully equipped wheelchair repair shop.
Think of the money we’d save in ambulances, countless trips for “medical exams,” bloated security payrolls and overtime. Congressmen get caught finagling from the budget, whoosh, off they go to the annex, walking distance.
Ordinary convicts in the penal system may grumble about the better conditions in this annex. But, it could also conceivably awaken dormant ambition and spur them to reform and run for high office. They might fit right in.
It occurred to me that perhaps there should also be a courtyard in the Batasan annex for a firing squad, so the high-end detainees could look forward to the ultimate in comfort. But that’s just me feeling charitable.
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