By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“Your leaders are rebels and friends of thieves; they are always accepting gifts and bribes. They never defend orphans in court or listen when widows present their case.” — Isaiah 1:23
Pasalubong, Pabaon, and Pakimkim: these are the three P’s traditionally practiced in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as exposed by Lt. Col. George Rabusa. This Former Budget Officer of the AFP was able to muster enough courage to expose the anomalies after going through painful and difficult experiences in his life believing that these were God’s punishments for all his wrongdoings and his lack of courage to expose and to stand for the truth. He knew for sure that it was wrong for him to serve as accomplice of the generals in amassing great wealth for themselves out of the AFP funds. But he chose to close his eyes and ears simply because he himself was benefitting from the anomalous financial transactions. Until such time that he lost almost everything that he got by dishonest means, including his health. Thus, he realized the need to recover whatever remaining dignity he has in his life as a humanbeing by exposing the truth and nothing but the truth.
The three P’s are usually resorted to by those in power when they felt insecure in terms of the support and loyalty of the line agencies of the government, especially the armed forces. A martial law government, whether declared like the Marcos Regime or undeclared like the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Administration, would badly need the unwavering support of the military in order to survive. The three P’s are needed to maintain military support.
However, the negative consequences of these anomalous practices are quite staggering. For instance, the AFP modernization is far from being realized because the funds that are supposed to be used for such purpose are diverted to the personal accounts of the generals and their accomplices. Besides, it is highly immoral to see generals wallowing in riches while the rank and file foot soldiers are wallowing in poverty and destitution. Even if the three P’s are regarded as tradition, it is perhaps a tradition that is supposed to be consigned in oblivion; for it is graft and corruption plain and simple. This traditional practice must be stopped, not only in the AFP but in all the other line agencies of government, if we want our country to prosper morally and economically.
Three P’s in History
The three P’s were also seen practiced in Biblical times. The ancient city of Philippi, for instance, was inhabited by retired generals of the Roman legions who were given vast tracts of lands as pasalubong, pabaon, and pakimkim of the Roman Emperor for their services and loyalty to the Roman Empire. The vast tracts of lands in Ancient Israel were also confiscated by the Roman Empire and were given as pasalubong, pabaon, and pakimkim for the loyal conquistadores.
Take note that even in Philippine history, the so-called encomiendas, and later on the haciendas, were actually pasalubong, pabaon, and pakimkim of the Spanish colonial government for the Spanish conquistadores. No wonder generals of the AFP try to justify the three P’s as part of historical tradition. But it is a tradition that is patently evil and must be left behind.
Prophet Isaiah also saw the three P’s prevailing during his time. Thus, says the Prophet, “Your leaders are rebels and friends of thieves; they are always accepting gifts and bribes. They never defend orphans in court or listen when widows present their case.” (Isaiah 1:23). When leaders in government are friends of thieves or they themselves are thieves, there is something inherently rotten in the whole system of governance. Prophet Isaiah saw this clearly in the government of his time. This is also similarly perceived by the so-called whistle-blowers in the government of our time.
For Prophet Isaiah, the true rebels are not those who are calling for genuine change in government, but rather those in government who are friends of thieves or they themselves are thieves. They are the ones who are bringing down the nation by their own evil deeds. Hence, the prophetic call for repentance is as relevant today as it was before. Says Prophet Isaiah, “Because the LORD is righteous, he will save Jerusalem and everyone there who repents.” # nordis.net