[EDITORIAL] #AnimatED: Our Good Friday that is Janet Napoles

Janet Lim Napoles has so far spent 5 Holy Weeks in jail, from the time she surrendered to the Aquino administration in November 2013 over charges that she connived with public officials to spend our taxes on ghost projects, fake NGOs, ritzy apartments, and bank accounts bursting with lies. That the justice department now wants to cover her with a mantle of state protection makes us wonder from where her angels have descended – and whether we now have been condemned to a lifetime of crucifixion. 

We write about the pork barrel queen in the holiest of weeks in Asia’s biggest Christian country, and rightly so. She represents one of our worst contradictions as a nation of the faithful, which now seems ready to lend a hand of reconciliation to the woman who flaunted her billions and flouted the law, but turns a blind eye to those sentenced to death without the benefit of trial – convicted by a crowd that abhors drugs and lusts for blood, much like the crowd that cried “Crucify him!” thousands of years ago.  

We write about the pork barrel queen in the week when we are asked to repent and reflect, and rightly so. She represents the impotence of repentance in the absence of penance, because while they say she seems bent on conceding to her crime, she would do so not just by dragging other people who could be brought to the jailhouse she now occupies, but by getting state support to help her walk away from it.

That is justice right there – justice for people who dance in the corridors of power, justice for those who have access to all its levers.  

We write about Janet Napoles this week, because the attempt by the Department of Justice to resurrect her, at taxpayers’ expense, reminds us of the mock trial thousands of years ago, that pitted the Son of God with an angry mob and a weak leader who bowed to its wishes. Except that in this case, we are the mocked.

For it is the luck of Napoles that she was born later, at a time when people are granted the right to a full, transparent, documented trial that does not rule on the basis of a crescendo of voices. But it is also to our bad luck that she was born at a time when people like her – moneyed, connected, invested – are granted the privilege to make a mockery of such trial. 

The court of last resort in this case, the Sandiganbayan, appears to share our despair, gauging from the tough questions the justices asked of Napoles’ lawyers and prosecutors when they heard the plan to have her under the government’s Witness Protection Program.

The anti-graft body, after all, has been witness to piles of documents and personal testimonies attesting to her deep involvement in an elaborate scam of using taxpayers’ money to bribe lawmakers and enrich her family – all in the name of helping the poor.  

Indeed, what crime could be worse than that? 

Thus, as we slow down this week for a moment of reflection, we take heed of the fact that faith becomes meaningless when confined merely to its rituals, its self-flagellations, its verses and Hail Marys. The injustice suffered by the powerless, as exemplified by the man crucified many lifetimes ago, does not only persist, it is made possible by those who claim to believe in him and what he preaches. In the same breath, the justice enjoyed by the powerful, as shown by the woman who might just get away, does not only persist, it is also made possible by those who claim to fight for the powerless.  

Shouldn’t this be enough reason to consider that perhaps we deserve our Good Friday represented by among the worst of our contradictions: Janet Lim Napoles? – Rappler.com