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 doesnt
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 peoples 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 couldnt 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
That was the Defenses 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. Thats their job, they said, and its
their clients 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 didnt come anyway
from public coffers but from vice lords.
We hoped that was just a joke. Yet if it was, we didnt laugh because the cruel joke
was on us. It only proved what we suspected all along about Estradas 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, its 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
Ople hasnt spoken. Hes probably thinking of GSIS loans he hasnt repaid
all these years. Honasan spoke too much, to the point of taunting protesters that People
Power 2 wont work since the military ingredient isnt there. If he only knew
how thousands of officers are raring to prove him wrong, and chastise him for insinuating
that hes the only charismatic military leader there was. About Sotto and Osmeña,
their Visayan provincemates are so ashamed of them.
Now theres 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 laws
gravest victim. As for Santiago, its 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 peoples
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 peoples 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
Life is short; it couldve been shorter were we on the LRT coach arriving at
Blumentritt station at noon last Dec. 30. Theres no time to waste. Lets get to
Youre 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 youve kept your corner of the government clean, that past and future
Presidents are no better than this one, that its not your job to make political
judgments of the President, that anyway your stand isnt crucial nor important to
this crisis, that its best to just await the Senates verdict.
The fairy tales do not alter the reality youre 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 peoples memories even shorter.
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.