Please don’t kill Napoles

Ryan Macasero
Something is very wrong with the system, there is no argument there. But I’d like to take this moment to call for a little sobriety.

(UPDATE) Since the series of explosive exposés on the pork barrel scam and the Napoles family began just a little over a month ago, netizens have unleashed their fury. Their target: Janet Lim-Napoles and corrupt lawmakers allegedly involved in the massive multi-billion peso “pork” scam.  

Read: TIMELINE: The road to the million people march

A Makati Court issued an arrest warrant for Napoles’s and her brother for the alleged illegal detention of her cousin and whistleblower, Benhur Luy.  Authorities have yet to apprehend Napoles and her brother.

President Benigno Aquino III announced on Wednesday, August 28, a P10-M bounty for anyone who can help authorities find and arrest Napoles.

Napoles surrendered at 9:37 pm that same evening to President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang.

READ: 10-M reward for Napoles arrest

READ: Napoles surrenders

READ: Aquino met with Napoles in Malacanang

Read: How Napoles ended up in Malacanang

The reward sounded enticing. Almost everyone was excited to see her in cuffs. And if you sift through any and almost all earlier Facebook posts and articles about Napoles or the pork barrel, you’ll find thousands of comments calling for her death, the death of her husband or her family. Here are some samples found on the Rappler site: 

(Note: These have been since been removed and the Rappler Social Media team is deleting any comments calling for violence.)

Spreading violence on social media

I will admit, it didn’t alarm me too much at first, nor did I take it that seriously. Most people more than likely didn’t really mean it. But it is not a risk worth taking, is conterproductive and frankly unacceptable.

“People are just upset?” I thought. And they have a right to be.  

READ: Napoles arrest story spikes on social media

The story of the 2011 UK riots sparked by the killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in the Tottenham neighborhood of London, demonstrated just how out of hand the spread of violence on social media can get. Encrypted messages encouraging people to use violence and cause destruction in London, were sent over BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Twitter and other social networks spread like wildfire.

Duggan was a symbol of police brutality that polarized race relations in London.  But what good came out of the people’s actions?  It was misguided anger. 

Everyone who pays proper taxes has the right to be upset at Napoles and the public officials involved. But after reading through pages and pages of Facebook posts and comments on online articles calling for her death by firing squad, hanging, lethal injection or whatever crazy way you imagine killing someone, it dawned on me that this might be going a little too far.

Right to anger

But I sympathize. I’m also a Philippine taxpayer, earning a Philippine salary and living a middle class Filipino lifestyle. I get it.

Everyone from the legitimate businessman to those who are barely scraping by have every right to be angry.

READ: Who’s to blame? Napoles or the system 

READ: Million people march is flooding social media fast

Working odd, long, stressful, sometimes hazardous hours to make a living, only to learn that the huge amount of money taken from your already small earnings is being used to fund the lavish lifestyles of the likes of Napoles. Who wouldn’t be angry? Why does she get to live like a queen while the rest of the country starves? It’s not fair.

Something is very, very wrong with the system, there is no argument there. But I’d like to take this moment to call for a little sobriety.  

Slow justice

Justice moves at an excruciatingly slow pace in this country. Obviously.  

Human rights abuse cases dating back to the martial law days remain unresolved. Corruption scandals seem to never see an end. The disappeared haven’t reappeared yet. And only God knows when the awfully slow Ampatuan trial will ever close.

But if history is any lesson, killing Napoles, her husband, or her kids, will not change a thing.

The intense feelings of anger and frustration are understandable, even justifiable. While a million people suffered during the recent monsoon floods, the Napoleses could’ve been watching it from one of their dozens of properties elsewhere in the Philippines or abroad. They could’ve been partying like there is no tomorrow, who knows?  

READ: Napoles’ daughter blogs about lavish lifestyle

But putting her on trial by Facebook will achieve nothing. 

By all means continue clamoring for change. Keep demanding accountability from our government.

Take the action offline. Participate in the rallies, if you must. Let public officials know that you know better. That you cannot and you will not forget. Refuse to turn a blind eye to corruption, refuse to be silent and let it be known that your silence cannot be bought. Let all public officials know they are accountable to you.

WATCH: #MillionPeopleMarch

REVIEW: AS IT HAPPENS: The August 26 Million People March

Should Monday’s #MillionPeopleMarch be an indicator of what lies ahead, I am hopeful the Filipino people know better. At the rally, people were picking up after themselves, no effigies were burned, there were no fistfights. It was a showcase of the best of the Filipino, when the world is so accustomed to seeing the worst.

Continue to engage, discuss and connect with each other, on and offline. But please, let’s continue this peacefully.

But don’t just take it from me. Take a step back and think about it for yourselves. –   

Follow Ryan Macasero on Twitter: @ryanmacasero


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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.