Making news today is another blast from the past — the re-opening of the 2004 election cheating scandal that engulfed most of former President Gloria Arroyo’s term from then ’til 2009 and a new investigation mounted on the back of a possible testimony from Zaldy Ampatuan and Lintang Bedong both of whom have admitted to being complicit in carrying out electoral fraud under the orders of the then President.
What does it all mean to the average Filipino?
I struggle with an answer. Subject these “developments” to the So What? Test and you come out of the exercise scratching your head.
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How long will it take? Who will go to jail? What will change?
Even with those three fundamental questions, one already struggles to pinpoint this new circus’s relevance to a people whose immediate concerns do not go beyond scraping together their next meal or slogging through the ridiculous red tape that comes between them and their plane out of the country to overseas employment bliss.
Between teasing the truth out of an alleged case of election fraud many young Filipinos today barely remember and the price of investigating and prosecuting it — specifically, a possible get-out-of-jail deal with an accused mass murderer awaiting trial — one wonders whether the return on investment (ROI) of this proposal stacks up to the risks.
Firstly, identifying The Truth in a society that possesses a deeply-ingrained cultural aversion to dealing with it, by itself, already makes the exercise nakakatamad and nakakawalang-gana (roughly translated “an unsavory slog”). Why dig deep for a gold nugget for a people who prefer to surround themselves in turd?
Second, mass murder is hands down more horrifying than electoral fraud. And with very little resources — much less, chances of success — surrounding the noble cause of solving crimes for which the accused happen to be wealthy, the choice in this context is a no-brainer, one would think. Unforunately, the Philippines is not exactly renowned for its thinking faculties. Filipinos had six years to resolve the 2004 election fraud claims. What makes us think that it will be solved in the next six?
It is also interesting to note that the usual suspects — our “heroic” champions of “justice” in Philippine Congress — are likely to figure in this public spectacle that is guaranteed to fill their personal quotas for media coverage. Recall then how it is this same “institution” that, to quote former education secretary and Liberal Party leader Florencio “Butch” Abad “slammed shut” a bid to impeach then President Arroyo in 2005. Indeed, this failure to impeach Arroyo — this “outrage” perpetrated by duly-elected “representatives” of the Filipino people — then became the basis for calls for another Edsa “Revolution” to be mounted on Manila’s streets — a call led by the late former President Corazon Aquino that fizzled out spectacularly…
In a country peppered by souls still heady and giddy about Fiesta Revolutions of past, the rallying cry in response to an impeachment bid against President Gloria Arroyo that catastrophically failed to pass Congress on 06 Sep 2005 was once again — you guessed it — FIESTA REVOLUTION! Led by no less than Madame Ex-President, former Time Woman of the Year, and Ms 1986 “Revolution” herself — Ms Corazon Aquino, what may now be billed Edsa IV (or Commonwealth Avenue I, as the case may be), promised to be another spectacle of sorts. This time there was no particular heir-to-the-throne around which the fete was organised. If it succeeded in its bid to amass enough warm bodies in the streets to make a statement, it would have marked a new low in the practice of a concept that Filipinos fancy themselves to have invented back in 1986. If it had failed, it will have further served to highlight the utter ridiculousness of how Filipinos conduct their affairs.
And failed miserably it did. Bursts of little street protests sporadically erupted in Manila’s streets in the days following the House dismisal of the impeachment bid, but none even remotely approached the kind of numbers these would-be anarchists crowed in the days leading to Tueday. Each were in fact smaller in number than the equally ridiculous street gathering in Makati on 25 July .
Shortly after, Inquirer.net columnist Amando Doronila wrote in a 09 September 2005 article what practically comes across as a eulogy to the only casualty of this political song-and-dance…
One of the ‘truths’ that emerged from the dismissal of the impeachment complaints is that people power has been drained of its mystique as a magic formula to oust much-demonized leaders. The indiscriminate use of people power to overthrow unwanted leaders has drained its potency as a weapon for effecting political change. Its potency has been depleted by frequent use. The sputtering of protests after the House vote should be a rude reality check to Cory Aquino. She has been deserted by people power. And nothing could be more pathetic.
As we can see now, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has much to gain personally from this re-visit of an electoral “crime” that even the full force of his clan’s Yellow Army utterly failed to indict six years ago. Like George W Bush at the time he pondered re-starting a war his father left unfinished against a “dictator” who, as history would later reveal, was irrelevant to a “war on terror” of Bush’s own making, Aquino is likely out to vindicate his mother’s involvement in that embarrassing 2005 “revolution” that never was.
It is up to Filipinos and their “representatives” in Congress today to decide whether they want to jump into the bandwagon for a similar ride into a quagmire.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.