The arrest on Friday of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president and its first leader impeached and removed from office, should send a clear message that no politician is above the law. She was arrested on charges including bribery, extortion and abuse of power.
In neighboring Philippines, the incarceration of top politicians is not an unfamiliar scene. Two ex-presidents and four sitting senators have had the same fate as the South Korean leader. Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Juan Ponce-Enrile, Bong Revilla, Jr, Jinggoy Estrada and Leila De Lima have been put behind bars or under hospital arrest for criminal offenses ranging from plunder to drug trafficking. (Enrile and Arroyo have since been released.)
The arrest of these politicians — although a slow process at times — is proof that in a country where government corruption is almost tolerated, there is still hope that those who hold power can be made accountable for their actions. Just like the ordinary man on the street.
But Politikal Pinoy asks: Why have these charges and arrests not become a deterrent to many more politicians and government officials who continue to betray the public trust and their oath to uphold the law?
Why does it have to take a city mayor-turned-president to single-handedly wage a no-nonsense war against corruption?
Has being above the law become an expectation, even part of the job description, of elected and appointive office in government?
In the bill approved by Congress seeking to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines, is it any wonder that plunder has been removed from the equation? Is it too harsh a punishment for elected leaders who steal from the nation and the people that put them in office? (Politikal Pinoy Is Against Death Penalty. READ)
Is it time for the Philippines to consider instituting a “Recall Election?”
Recall is the power of the voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire. It has been a fundamental part of the U.S. governmental system since 1911 and has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected representatives.
Why wait for the slow judicial process to be completed when technically, it is the people that put these politicians in office? So shouldn’t the people have that same power to remove erring officials? Why let these crooked politicians continue in office while cases against them are formally filed?
Is it time to take people power away from the streets and into the ballot box?
In the meantime, once elected officials are formally charged and arrested, shouldn’t they cease performing official duties from inside the jail cell?