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GOTCHA by Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star, January 20, 2001

You made our people cry. Our mothers, sisters and daughters, even our fathers, brothers and sons – we wept betrayed by what you did.

We had pinned our hopes in you. You made us believe we can make our constitutional process of impeachment work. You said you will make it work. You misled us. With a snap of a finger and a smirk on your face, you – Coseteng, Enrile, Honasan, Jaworski, Ople, Oreta, J. Osmeña, Revilla, Santiago, Sotto, Tatad – showed us that the process doesn’t work. It will never work. Not with you around.

You promised to search for Truth, for it shall set us all free. We had our doubts. Still, we went along with the impeachment trial, if only to find out exactly what Joseph Estrada had done with our people’s money and to what extent he had gone to conceal his misdeed. All the while, you were never after Truth. You were looking after his and your narrow interest of preservation in power. You couldn’t even wait for Verdict Day to prove it to him. Halfway through the trial, you quashed as immaterial and irrelevant the evidence that could have shown how he amassed wealth ill-gotten from us. You quashed the Truth.

That was the Defense’s job. They kept mesmerizing us about the difference between real Truth and judicial Truth, the latter being what the rules of evidence – technicalities all – allow to be presented in court. Without you having to help them, they were earnest enough in distorting the Truth. That’s their job, they said, and it’s their client’s right. Why, one of them, Parsifal by name, even unabashedly proclaimed on national TV that he believed Estrada did take jueteng protection money. He accepted the job of defending him just the same since, he claimed, the money didn’t come anyway from public coffers but from vice lords.

We hoped that was just a joke. Yet if it was, we didn’t laugh because the cruel joke was on us. It only proved what we suspected all along about Estrada’s reign – that under him, everything we were taught to be wrong has become the norm, with all sorts of hair-splitting excuses at that.

Coseteng reportedly said later she wished she could take back her vote against opening the envelope of evidence. Too late for that. Jaworski said on radio that he voted "no" to the opening only as a small favor to his requesting father-in-law Revilla. Well. if the fate of this nation can be horse-traded by senators, then Congress is a damaged institution indeed. As for Revilla, it’s a pity that his governor-son had to join the protesters at EDSA to regain what he said is left of the name his father tarnished.

Ople hasn’t spoken. He’s probably thinking of GSIS loans he hasn’t repaid all these years. Honasan spoke too much, to the point of taunting protesters that People Power 2 won’t work since the military ingredient isn’t there. If he only knew how thousands of officers are raring to prove him wrong, and chastise him for insinuating that he’s the only charismatic military leader there was. About Sotto and Osmeña, their Visayan provincemates are so ashamed of them.

Now there’s talk of contriving an assassination attempt on Estrada as an excuse to crack down on dissent, no different from the mock ambush of Enrile in ’72 as a prelude to martial law. We wonder if Enrile has heard about it. Talking about martial law, it was Tatad who read that declaration over and over on confiscated radio-TV stations. Last Tuesday, it was he who led the mangling of our recovered democracy. Oreta then made a dance floor of the Senate floor, forgetting that her brother Ninoy Aquino was martial law’s gravest victim. As for Santiago, it’s not yet the full moon.

You made us cry. The eleven of you fooled us; in-once ninyo kami. But after we wiped away our tears, we turned grief into rage. The die is cast. Now you must face the people’s wrath in the streets. There we will plan how to build a new system that shall embody our most basic ideal to never again let our public servants use, for their personal instead of the people’s interest, the power we lend to them.

And, oh, you senators must have seen the protest placards that look like P200-million checks issued to you by Jose Velarde. Deny, if you may, what they mean. But when all this is over, there will be investigations.

* * *


Pagbabago@Pilipinas, a forum of leaders below 50 in their fields and professions, fired off this letter to Cabinet members. Excerpts:

Life is short; it could’ve been shorter were we on the LRT coach arriving at Blumentritt station at noon last Dec. 30. There’s no time to waste. Let’s get to it.

You’re serving a President who has been established on live nationwide TV to be a liar and thief. With due respect to your prudence, honor and sound judgment, you delude yourself into thinking that your continued stay in the Cabinet is motivated by the highest, noblest reasons. So you tell yourself fairy tales: that you are protecting the country from even worse suffering, that no one else can carry on your vital reforms and programs, that you’ve kept your corner of the government clean, that past and future Presidents are no better than this one, that it’s not your job to make political judgments of the President, that anyway your stand isn’t crucial nor important to this crisis, that it’s best to just await the Senate’s verdict.

The fairy tales do not alter the reality you’re in. Everyday you go to office, issue orders, conduct business using poisoned powers and tainted authority of a lying, thieving President. From a free, reasonable, responsible individual motivated by a desire to serve our people, you have been transformed into a mindless minion of Jose Velarde or Ke(l)vin Garcia or Asyong Salonga or Joseph Estrada, different names, same essence – lying and thieving in government. If you want to go on with your life in that kind of hell on this earth, go ahead. Anyway, life is short and people’s memories even shorter.

Signed by:

Mario Taguiwalo, Ciel Habito, Marian Roces, Ella Antonio, Bong Eliab, Dina Abad, Nicky Perlas, Dinky Soliman, Guido Delgado, Jim Paredes, Kiko Pangilinan, Dean Bocobo, Calvin Genotiva, John Silva, Fr. Tito Caluag, Jose Javier Reyes, Bart Guingona, Rina David, Marriz Agbon, Dan Songco, Alex Magno, Bill Luz, Chito Salazar.

Last updated April 03, 2001 06:56 PM
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