Corruption drive: Shame them, not just jail them

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Corruption drive: Shame them, not just jail them

Grafters face not just indictment. Their misdeeds also are publicized. Modi operandi are detailed. The media dutifully report.

All those serve as deterrents. The public is informed and alerted. More whistleblowers step forward. Extortion victims are emboldened to complain.

Most dreadful is the factor of public shaming. If there’s anything a government crook avoids, it’s to be laid bare for all to scorn. His name is bandied in the news. His children become the butt of insults. The spouse, parents and siblings disown him. Friends and associates shun him. Society ostracizes him.

To be cast out by loved ones and peers can be a fate worse than death. Broadcasting what befell the exposed can strike fear in the hearts of would-be copycats. Beware, for you can end up like them.

In 2004 a general was discovered to have pocketed P302 million in army operations funds. During the ensuing televised Senate inquiry his wife’s ailment worsened. Two sons dropped out of school and a third, in New York City, chose never to see him again. For some months that youngest was clamped with an ankle alarm and confined to his apartment as US authorities confiscated their plush condos. From officer of his military academy class, he became pariah. Subordinates derided him for the wife’s self-confessed lavish banquets, foreign travels and binge shopping, while troops lacked basic supplies like combat boots and truck spare tires. Behind bars he fortunately found solace in the Bible and now preaches The Word to fellow inmates.

Another general was exposed then. Dismissed from the service, his retirement pay was forfeited. He became a recluse. Unable to bear their sudden penury, his socialite-spouse ended up a deadbeat.

Two retired star-rankers belatedly were implicated in 2010. One and his high-living wife became nervous wrecks from protracted public hearings and detention for contempt. The other shot himself in the chest by his mother’s grave.

An officer, who acted as the generals’ moneybag, told me about his plummet. His wife left him as he spent jail time. He took to drinking, smoking, gambling. Lifestyle disease debilitated him. He became angry at the world and himself. (At one point, he admitted, he plotted to kill me.) Then he caught himself. He remembered his two daughters, in whose accounts he once deposited the generals’ loot, crying that he clear their names. He resolved to pick up the pieces and disclose the generals’ rackets. His revelation of their hundred-million-peso self-gifts on appointment (pasalubong) and retirement (pabaon) led to reforms. The truth set him free, and he regained the love of family and respect of fellows. (He remains among my reliable informants on sleaze in the uniformed services.)

Painful for two families was the conviction in February of nephew- and uncle-in-law for the corrupt 2012 MRT-3 maintenance deal. The former is a lawyer and computer technologist; the latter an accountant. Both are on bail while appealing their sentence. Though exonerated, four co-accused and families underwent harrowing court and personal trials.

Not all crooks are able to reform fast. Exposed in 2013, the fixer of congressmen’s pork-barrel theft has been convicted several times over. While on trial for various other counts, she is confined at the women’s correctional. Her daughter would brag on social media about her latest Parisian shopping sprees – until she too and a brother were implicated in the mom’s P900-million scam. The higher you fly, the harder you fall. The family crashed with a thud. Recently the mother was reported to have resumed her charity fundraising from behind bars. She may be on her way to inner peace. Still, their name has been etched in history in relation to billion-peso plunders.

Two police generals, amassing untold wealth in the 2000s, took to giving their grade school grandchildren P1,000 daily “baon”. Now in their mid-20s, can those kids still repair their broken sense of values?

Narco-politicos fall into the same rut. In 2001 a mayor was caught with 16 sacks of shabu (meth) in his van and escort-municipal ambulance. Straight to jail he went for trial on the non-bailable offense and consequent conviction. His family lost social standing.

Same with a woman whose mayor-father, mother, local official-brother and -uncle were slain in a police drug raid on the family manor. The lone survivor, the woman is in police stockade. She faces life term for alleged narco-trafficking.

Last Tuesday, President Duterte formed a “mega task force” against graft. “Bear in mind that it’s your families and loved ones who will ultimately suffer shame and humiliation,” he warned corrupt officials.

A crook has but to hear the wails of the family and witness them faint upon his sentencing at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court. Then he’ll know the deep hurt he caused.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

My book “Exposés: Investigative Reporting for Clean Government” is available on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/Amazon-Exposes

Paperback: https://tinyurl.com/Anvil-Exposes or at National Bookstores.

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