Senator Jinggoy Estrada promised us some earth-shaking news, and he delivered.
In Wednesday’s privilege speech, the lawmaker who is one of three senators charged with plunder before the Ombudsman for the misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund did not defend himself or deny allegations made against him.
What he did was tell us he is not the only one who should be indicted.
The senator decried the selective justice pursued by the administration. He said many other politicians allied with the current administration are also cited by the Commission on Audit as having misused their PDAF allocation. Why, then, are the plunder charges and the vilification limited to those from the opposition?
Estrada also said that everybody who voted to convict impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was given P50 million, and that details of this arrangement could be found in a confidential letter from Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to then-chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator (now Senate President) Franklin Drilon.
Several senators have acknowledged the existed of the P50 million bonus, given over and above the P200 million yearly allocation per senator. However, they insist that this was not a bribe at all because the funds were released in December 2012, a full seven months after the Senate convicted Corona.
There are definitions for each of these terms and the legal experts will soon determine whether a bribe is really all that different from an incentive or a reward, in name and in essence.
But let’s go into this human instinct to immediately point to other people’s mistakes when we are called out on our own failings.
What Estrada did was nothing new. We always see it, in government, in relationships, in many other settings. It even has a name—psychological projection.
Projection is a concept developed by the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud in the 1890s. It is a defense mechanism whereby a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.
Projecting allows a person to reduce his or her own stress or guilt.
How many times have we heard somebody say, when confronted with his own faults: “but so-and-so is worse! What I did is nothing compared to what he did!”
Another example would be in relationships, where one partner would be very jealous, accusing the other of cheating when in fact, the same partner is the one committing infidelity.
Some people we know as homophobic can also be simply projecting their own homosexual tendencies. They claim to despise gays and lesbians, saying they are immoral or unnatural, when in fact it is they who are hiding secrets in the closet.
But do any of these accusations and counter-accusations even tell us who is guilty, and to what extent, and who is not? Does it bring us any closer to the truth?
Not really. Sadly, this saga will continue longer than we would want it to, before anything gets resolved, before anybody gets convicted, and before all the other problems of our country are attended to, much less solved.
Yes, Zamboanga, unemployment, disaster preparedness, criminality and many others will have to wait.
In the meantime, we can only hope that those in power will be decisive enough to show us that justice is indeed absolute and color-blind, not selective. If some allies must be charged, charge them. Only then will the President convey sincerity in his “daang matuwid.” Only then can he convince us that this is not a political exercise where some people escape prosecution just because they have been lucky to align themselves with the right people at the right time.
Only then can the administration can tell us that it is not projecting its own faults on its political rivals even when both sides have committed grave abuses of their own.