ONE PECULIARITY of the Philippines is how it glorifies the mundane—or at least what should be such. For example, it’s not surprising to see headlines about taxi drivers who return wallets containing huge sums of money to their owners. In turn, the media and the government would make heroes out of these people.

Perhaps our standards for heroic acts may be in need of check.

It is true that returning lost items to their owners is a noble act. But it is also true that returning what is not one’s own is the perfectly natural thing to do. But as if that wouldn’t be expected of people, Philippine law mandates it. A provision of the Civil Code prohibits “unjust enrichment,” or the act of acquirring possession of something at the expense of another.

In other words, there’s nothing heroic and worth glorifying about a person deciding not to steal. It’s mundane. There’s no accepted principle such as “finder’s keepers.”

That is the law.

But then again, it might be worth wondering why Filipinos look up to people who surrender lost items. I made mention of the word “law.” Laws are enacted by Congress. And there is the answer.

There can be no just logic in following laws when the members of Congress themselves are the leading violators of laws they create. Not only do they violate their own laws, they also unabashedly violate it in epic proportion—P10 billion to be more accurate.

All eyes and scrutiny are on both houses of Congress now that Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains of the P10-billion priority developlment assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam, has surrendered to government.

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Napoles’ modus involved funding “ghost projects,” using pork barrel funds by participating congressmen and senators. The pork barrel funds are processed through bogus non-governmental organizations (NGO). In turn, we see Napoles, her children, and lawmakers living a lavish lifestyle, forcing us to believe that their money came from their regular salary and other legitimate means.

Meanwhile, recent reports confirmed that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada had endorsed their pork barrel funds for use by the bogus NGO projects.

Now, the Senate prays for the public to remain trusting them.

As what was mentioned in the Varsitarian’s editorial in the previous issue, it is not fair that Napoles gets the most scrutiny when the senators and House representatives who joined in Napoles’ scam are more liable because they are public, if not elected, officials. In my opinion, there can be no greater political crime than betrayal of public trust. Between a man and a succubus who seduces him, the man who allowed himself to be seduced is by far more guilty.

It now makes sense why we glorify taxi drivers, janitors, security guards and other common people who return lost items to their owners. The standards of heroism in the the country are quite watered down in light of our Congress. There may be a need to retract the first few paragraphs of this opinion piece: in the Philippines, for as long as you do not steal, you are considered a hero.

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