The list

This is my column today, April 29, 2014.

The hottest item in the country at the moment that everyone wants to acquire a copy of, or at least have definitive knowledge of, is The List. 
Of course there are many things that are troubling, to say the least, about the way our leaders have been wrangling over the The List and how best to manage it, but I guess that is to be expected given the kind of irreparable damage inclusion in the list could bring to anyone’s political career. 
As it is, I doubt if there is sufficient expertise in the world that can cleanse or deodorize the image of the three senators already linked to the scam.  They are already as good as retired, and that is the better scenario.  The worse scenario is jail time, not to mention lifetime stigma of being branded as thieves.  A source told me yesterday that at the birthday bash thrown for former President Joseph Estrada Saturday night, even the polite applause for the three senators was embarrassingly sparse—and to think they were in the company of supposed loyal partymates and friends. 
Conversely, there is the matter of the kind of boost non-inclusion in the list could bring to a flagging political career.  If she plays her cards right, this could just be the needed push that could catapult Justice Secretary Leila de Lima into the Senate in 2016.  She knows it and that’s why she is managing the situation with uncharacteristic prudence.  Of course there is the possibility that she is under extreme pressure from her friends and partymates who are currently squirming at the thought of imminent public ridicule and embarrassment.
It’s not really surprising that most everyone in this country has ascribed a mafia-like context around the existence of The List.  It stands to reason that anyone running an operation as dangerous and as complex as the pork barrel scam would have some way of tracking the extend to which key people in this country were strangled by the scam or the depths at which they were buried in excrement. 
If we are to believe the speculative drivel that has been floating around, The List will decimate both houses of Congress.  The implications are staggering. 
But then again, haven’t we all suspected that for the longest time?  Aren’t we all aware of the existence of the so-called SOP which refers to the standard commission elected officials get out of government contracts that pass through their office?  We’ve known for the longest time that our culture of political patronage breeds the kind of corrupt behaviors among our leaders.  We also know that political dynasties exist as a necessity —families in power need to continue to be in power so they can wield influence when situations such as the pork barrel scams crops up. 
It can be argued of course that the Napoles operation which involved the use of bogus non-government organizations was an extreme example of insatiable greed because under the scam absolutely nothing—as in nada, zilch—went into any kind of program or project.  The Napoles operation was basically a grand scheme to siphon off billions of money from government into the pockets of a select few. In short, the scheme has violated the perceived rules of the game which is to keep corruption within the norm (SOP) and to ensure that the people still get something from the stinking deal.
So yes the clamor for the identities of those who are in The List is legitimate and understandable.  Of course we dread the thought of having our worst fears validated:  That power does corrupt in this country and that contrary to all previous pronouncements on the matter, elections in this country is nothing but a money-making scheme designed to make the rich richer and the powerful even more powerful.  We’re not really sure if we can handle the truth, but it must be made known.
One wishes of course that we all temper the predilection to turn the matter into a national soap opera.  It’s a serious matter with grave consequences not just on those who are in The List, but also to all of us who may have supported them in one way or the other.  In the end, the only way for The List to have any real value other than becoming the bases for prosecution and banishment into political retirement of those who are in it is for all of us to use it as a mirror of our own weaknesses and failings as electorate. After all, we did elect these clowns and thieves into office.


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