Dear Mr. Bolante,
I have a question, a very simple one.
Don't worry, it has nothing to do with the scam that will forever be associated with your name. I'm not interested in your innocence or your guilt. That much has already been decided. In the public's eye, you are guilty; but in the eyes of Philippine law, you are innocent. So long as you stick to your story, you will continue to be so.
You know, I didn't even bother to follow your performance at the Senate on television. The fact is, I've seen it all before. The senators will scream and the senators will shout; they'll wag papers under your nose and trip you up with your words; they'll sneer and they'll shout; and yes, they'll call you names. But you and I already know, at the end of the day, nothing will come of it. You are innocent; so long as you stick to your story, you will continue to be so.
No, my question is a very fundamental one. If you will, it's a very human one.
It's one that's been on my mind ever since I saw the pictures of your return. For the past two years, the image of you has been one of confidence -- a moment frozen in time: you, so dapper in your suit, making a point to a tall gentleman as you gestured expressively with your hands. Your eyes were alive, your face was aglow with your smile.
It's not the person I saw in the pictures upon your return. Your hair is all white, your face is all sallow. You have rings under your eyes, your jowls have collapsed. You shuffle with a stoop. You look at world with wariness. Gone is the confidence. Gone is the fire. Gone is the happiness. You're a shadow, a ghost of your former self.
That's the price, I suppose, of three years on the run, two of them in the ignominy of a US federal prison. If that wasn't enough, there was the endless string of calumnies: the Joc-joc jokes, the bola-bola jokes, and yes, the Rotarian jokes made in your name. (The new Four-Way Test: "Tutuo bang me transaction na naman tayo?" "Lahat ba tayo kasali dyan?" "Wala bang masasagasaan dyan?" "Magkano akin dyan?")
And that's the price of what's to come down the line: for your safety, for your family's safety. I don't know how many people can do what you did, how many of them can go through what you've gone through. Your silence and your loyalty go beyond cowardice; in fact, they border on the heroic. You are innocent. So long as you stick to your story, you will continue to be so.
With all this in mind, Mr. Bolante, I have a question, a very simple one, so simple you can answer with a yes or a no.
Was it worth it?