The right to sue scoundrels in power

By Alex P. Vidal

“You have undertaken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you.”—Cornelius Vanderbilt

EVERY Filipino citizen is empowered by law to file a formal complaint against any erring public official.

As taxpayers, it is inherently right to lodge a case in the Office of the Ombudsman against abusive elected and even appointed government officials and their subalterns.

Thus the duty and obligation of check and balance, of scrutiny and the seeking of redress for legitimate grievances against the sins of the government aren’t the exclusive domains of the so-called “graft busters” and “crusaders” who are politicians or opposition firebrands.

The more ordinary or unknown are the “plaintiffs” or the personalities behind the complaints, the more credible and convincing the cases they file against the grafters in government will appear.

If a fruit vendor, beautician, bodybuilder, construction worker, jeepney driver, call center employee, bus conductor, and carnival operator feel they have been hoodwinked by their public officials and they have enough pieces of evidence to show, they can always haul the dishonest public officials to court.

It is not necessary to wait for any Good Samaritan, a church minister, a politician, or anti-graft and corruption impostor to do the patriotic task.

If an ordinary taxpayer will mount a formal complaint against the rascals in government, no one will question his motive.

If a politician, religious leader, or a future candidate in the election are the ones who file the case, sometimes people think they are only grandstanding or “showing off” for a larger game plan and ulterior motives even if they are sincere and doing it with clean intentions.


“He is the right person for the job”; “The President made the right choice”; “The Department of (name of agency) is in good hands with his appointment”; “He (or she) is fit for the position,” etcetera.

It makes many of us puke each time we hear politicians uttering these unsolicited plaudits when there are new appointments in the cabinet of the Marcos Jr. administration.

They may be entitled to express their feelings and excitements for these new appointments, but they actually sound more banal and irrelevant, rather than they’re enlivened and exhilarated.

The intention actually is, let’s not be hypocrites, to attract the attention of these newly appointed cabinet appointees for whatever their concealed design.

The more they issue press statements applauding the appointments even if no one is asking or expecting them to do that, the more people will dismiss their words as nothing but a pure and simple wheedling and a sugar-coated flattery, again, even if they mean what they express.


BLINKEN’S MESSAGE. This may already be late, but the significance of US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s message for the Filipinos during the Philippine Independence Day 2023 was still very much relevant and important in the relationship between the United States and the Philippines.

“On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I send my congratulations to the people of the Philippines as you celebrate your Independence Day on June 12.

“Today, I want to reaffirm the longstanding U.S.-Philippines Alliance and celebrate our strong people-to-people ties, acknowledging the shared sacrifices that form the foundation of our Alliance.

“The United States cherishes the partnerships we have developed across so many fields, including fostering inclusive and broad-based prosperity, investing in the clean energy transition, upholding international peace and stability, and so much more.

“We have accomplished much together, and I am confident we will continue to collaboratively confront the most pressing regional and global challenges.

“Best wishes to the people of the Philippines for a joyous Independence Day.”

NBA FINALS. Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat was set for Monday at 8:30 p.m. Easter Time. The Nuggets are one win away from their first NBA championship after a 108-95 victory in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in the series.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)