Monday, February 11, 2008

An Illegal Bribery

Sometimes, the rush to beat the deadline could cause newspapers to print erroneous statements.  Other times, journalists would just quote what their interviewees would say, verbatim, without clarifying meaning.  I don't know which was the case when the Philippine Daily Inquirer printed this:  

"Senator Richard Gordon pointed out that it is illegal for foreigners, in this case the ZTE officials, to bribe Filipino officials."

Hmm.  Let me get that straight.  Either the Inquirer or Senator Gordon is saying, that it is not illegal for non-foreigners, in this case Filipinos, to bribe Filipino officials. The statement implies that it is only illegal for foreigners to bribe, and that if it's Filipinos doing the bribing, it's not illegal.  I'm sure that's not what the Senator meant, and I know PDI did not realize the sentence implication when this was printed. There is something missing in that statement, and times like these, I am moved to react.  

Every Filipino knows that it is illegal to bribe.  Period.  The knowledge, however, stays in our heads.  In practice, bribery is so commonplace that it takes some steely determination to refuse to give in to this corrupted way of life.  Over at the Sandiganbayan, the country's anti-graft and corrupt practices court, no matter how soon the justices render a decision in one case, a dozen others would easily take its place.  It is a never-ending cycle of politically-motivated cases.  

The Philippines is in the middle of another scandal and on the verge of another People Power revolution.  I was there for Edsa I with my family, when I was 11 years old and idealistic.  I was there for Edsa II with my friends, and I was then 27 tears old and still idealistic.  I skipped Edsa III, not because my idealism had waned, but because it was not a battle I had wanted to be part of.

This new controversy is just another example of the things we Filipinos tend to get ourselves into.  I do pray for a solution, but at this point it is beyond me how to get through this one.  Why, it's even enough to make a grown man cry.

There have been bomb threats within Metro Manila since last week.  Despite this, life had to go on.  My family celebrated Mama's 65th birthday at the TriNoMa earlier tonight.  We ate a lovely dinner at Fish & Co.  Then while we were walking to our cars , there was a brownout within the basement parking.  We kept walking but I felt some fear, after all the text messages about bomb threats inside malls.  My nephew started to pray and I joined him silently.

Power went back on after a few minutes of darkness, only to go out again seconds later.  We were relieved when we finally drove out of the parking lot.  Then we encountered extraordinarily heavy traffic along the Elliptical road, and again I felt that nagging fear that something terribly wrong was ahead of us.

I texted a friend after I got home about the experience and how I hated being paranoid.  He gently reminded me that the situation was an invitation for  us to really turn to God.  I agreed with him.  This is the time, more than ever, to call on our Savior, for He alone is our Hope.

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