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[Bodymind] Dear Senator Revilla

Dear Senator Revilla:

This letter does not refer to your privilege speech earlier this week. Instead, I would like to write about how, if one analyzed your past behavior, one could predict what you would say last Monday, January 20.

Happily for us, the saying “silence is golden” is not something you believe in. Or maybe, like many politicians, you simply do not practice what you preach.

Be that as it may, you have said things in the past that your handlers should’ve insisted you not say. They should have warned you that, if you continued to shoot your mouth off, baka po mabuking kayo (you might get busted.) And busted you were.

Example 1: You insisted you scarcely knew Janet Napoles.

If true, this makes you not only an alleged thief but also a pretty stupid one. Why should you put your trust in someone you hardly know? Trust to the tune of over P200 million in funds you allegedly transferred to NGOs controlled by Napoles and her dummies.

I hope you understand, Sen Revilla, “Wala pong personalan ito.” (This isn’t a personal attack against you.) If we ever happen to be at the same party, and you are willing, I will pose for a picture with you the way you did with Napoles. Then you can truthfully say about me what you claimed about Napoles: “I was introduced once or twice to (her)…Aside from the customary ‘hi’s and hello’s,’ we had no other interaction with each other."

Of course if, after having met me once or twice, you then decide to send me over P200 million of your PDAF, I’ll make sure they reach Congress’ intended beneficiaries, and without any deductions, either. I might, of course, charge, an itty bitty handling fee (joke only).

I don’t delude myself into thinking that allegedly corrupt lawmakers blanch with fear upon realizing I’ve written them a letter. In fact I can imagine them joking: “Pare, ikaw ba ang binabanatan ngayon?" (Are you the flavor of the month this time?) No big deal and welcome to the club.

“Give it a month, cry on national TV about your children being affected, maybe even bullied! Mentioning how terribly your children have suffered always gets people on your side. You know naman we Filipinos are so goddamn sentimental, thank God. Basta lang, magpanggap kang tatay na namumulupot sa sama ng loob, papatawarin ka na nila. Kayang-kaya niyo yan, di ba, mga artista naman kayo? (Just pretend to be a father feigning distress and you will be forgiven. You can do that, can't you, you're actors anyway?)

(Why, you can even cry a little: "De ano na ako, pero kailangan pa bang isama ang aming mga anak?" (I don’t care about myself, but do you have to drag my kids into this too?)

“Lie low ka lang for a while. Believe me, it will blow over the way everything else does."

“What does it matter if columnists rail against all the plunderers for a week, a month, even years? So what if there are million people marches and even effigies burned?!!? Nothing will happen. Nothing ever does."

“The best thing about it is, even when we’re laying low, we can laugh all the way to our banks, in our heavily tinted SUVs, and let the bleeding hearts write all they want.”

As early as 1977 Albert Bandura formulated the Social Learning Theory, considered the most influential theory on learning and development. I’d like to quote Dr Bandura himself, as he says it so eloquently: "Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action." 

In other words, extrapolating from the rigorous studies done in Social Learning Theory, children learn they can get away with something by (merely) watching another get away with something as terrible. In fact, the (initially merely) observing subjects can do even worse, realizing that they can get away with murder (or plunder, or both).

Thus, if a fledgling politician notices that more entrenched politicians can steal with impunity, what’s to stop the newbies from doing the same? So what if you are ridiculed on FB, mocked by columnists, barred from running again? So what if you even have to go on the lam like Joc-Joc Bolante?

If that is the worst it gets, why should any thief care?

`Theoretically, all you have to do is lie low for a year and then hire publicists to ensure you project whatever image you choose, maybe even continue acting in a movie or two, all the while enjoying the fruits of your alleged theft.

In fact, theoretically, someone like you Senator Revilla, can even use the money you allegedly stole to hire lawyers to help weasel out of crimes you're accused of and buy air time to protest your innocence.

In the words of former Harvard law Professor and current US Senator Elizabeth Warren: “If large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate millions in profits and if they get off by paying out of these profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.”

But, once again, allow me to quote the one saying that has kept me from losing hope. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.”

Hopefully the second step isn’t that far off. It will be when most of us realize we must do something more than write. I am sure we readers can find fellow readers sufficiently outraged to harness the indignation and implement ideals that many have already discussed. With any luck, our getting together can be that straw that breaks the corrupt camel’s back. –