There is a list of the alleged crimes of former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo (GMA) making its rounds on social networking sites like some kind of chain letter. The list comes with a photo of GMA in a wheelchair wearing her neck brace and facemask looking gaunt and distressed. The photo is obviously not a very flattering portrait of her. It is a far cry from her regal stance during her time in office as the head of state.
Since the list has become viral, it is safe to assume that some people take pride in passing on a photo of the sick and vulnerable just for fun. They seem to think that sharing the picture is amusing and more importantly, a sign of victory against corruption and a symbol of GMA’s downfall. With the way some people are celebrating her arrest, you would think that the courts have already found GMA guilty. But in fact, the legal proceedings haven’t even begun. The haste with which the arrest warrant was issued already tells us that the case is not a very solid one and not only that, proceedings will be done with the usual circus-like and operatic acts that always appeal to the gullible.
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This tells us what kind of mentality some Filipinos have — malicious and vindictive. This despite most having a religious upbringing. Ironically, some people who pass on the said photo are the same people who you will see posting religious or feel good quotes on the said social networking sites. The veneer of “compassion” has been unmasked to reveal the hate in the heart of the “God-fearing” lot as a show of misguided patriotism.
This also tells us that there are a lot of Filipinos who do not have empathy. Empathy is defined as the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another being. They say that people may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. It makes sense because a truly smart person would think twice about doing something to someone lest the same thing be done to him or her.
When images of a bloodied Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed Libyan dictator before he was shot to death made its rounds in the news, the whole world witnessed what a mob could do once they turn against their dear leader. One would think though that the Libyan temperament is different from the Filipino temperament on account of the “peaceful” Edsa revolution in 1986. In other words, one cannot imagine Filipinos treating their public officials in the barbaric way Gadaffi was treated by the Libyans.
However, with the recent chaotic scenes at the airport involving the anti-Arroyo group and GMA, it is obvious that some Filipinos are also capable of turning into a lynch mob once incited. And inciting more Filipinos into an angry pack is definitely the purpose of the list of GMA’s supposedly “crimes” being passed around. Whoever came up with that list is a genius in mind manipulation. Whoever came up with that list knows that most Filipinos do not really bother to confirm if any of the “crimes” listed in the unofficial list have any basis or truth.
Like I said in the past, the enormous number of men and women charging ahead with President Noynoy Aquino without really understanding why they are doing so is enough indication of what the most likely outcome of this latest circus act will be. Unfortunately, the power of emotionally charged and enraged people moving in large numbers is greater than those who can think rationally and objectively. We all know that when emotion is involved, things always turn ugly.
Going back to the unofficial list of GMA’s supposed “crimes”, any rational being would see through the deception and propaganda involved in this attempt to further damage the reputation of the former President. The list is a long one and is designed for maximum shock value. It should be noted that the only reason the list is long is because many of the items are repetitive. One’s initial reaction upon seeing the list, which goes up to 39 items would be to feel indignant. But some of the items just sound so ridiculous. One which says “200 plus other illegal midnight appointments” during her time in Malacanang does not really have any details or specifics of who they are and what post they got. Another item that is quite suspect says, “Denial of pork barrel funds to Malacanang’s political enemies”. To which one would be inclined to say, the onus is on the accuser to prove the accusation and once again, the list does not provide specifics.
What is most shocking in all this is how the average Filipino can fall for this kind of mind trick. You would think that when one considers the fact that the current administration has had a tough time filing charges against GMA and had only managed to file one – which is the electoral sabotage during the Senatorial election in 2007 – out of the long list after almost two years in office, Filipinos would apply a bit more healthy skepticism when regarding this list. But no, sirree. Most Filipinos still believe that GMA had all the time in the world to craft those under-the-table deals while still managing to get a lot of things done — the deployment of the troops during the Iraq war, avoiding the financial crisis that hit Europe and the US really hard, attending to international conventions, upgrading the country’s infrastructure, and many other things.
In fact, much of the gains in the Philippine economy felt during the first year of the administration of Noynoy Aquino (not to mention the growth and resilience it was noted for before it) can only be attributed to GMA’s management. This did not stop Aquino for taking credit for all that in a speech in Singapore before the Filipino community in March of 2011.
Something is really amiss with most Filipinos. It’s as if their mentality is still stuck in the 18th Century — a time when witch hunting was in vogue. Even former Aquino ally and economist, Solita Collas-Monsod finds the series of events in the last few days “disturbing”:
What I find disturbing, however, is the rush by the Comelec to file charges, particularly since it is supposed to be an independent constitutional body, not a Malacañang lackey. Consider the following timeline:
On Aug. 15, 2011, in a five-page joint order signed by De Lima and Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes, the DOJ and the Comelec created the joint preliminary investigation committee and the joint fact-finding team regarding the allegations of electoral sabotage against Arroyo and others. I don’t know what that order contained, but on the face of it, creating the two bodies at the same time must carry with it the assumption that the fact-finding team was going to find facts that would lead to a preliminary investigation.
On Oct. 21, 2011, according to De Lima, the fact-finding team was to have submitted their report, forwarding it to the joint preliminary investigation committee. I was unable to secure a copy of the fact-finding team’s report, but from the news reports, it seemed to me that everything was hearsay, until Oct. 11, when former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s chief aide, Norie Unas, revealed that he had overheard Arroyo ordering Ampatuan to deliver a 12-0 vote for the administration candidates in 2007. That was the only eyewitness account (and Ampatuan has just called Unas a liar and denied that the conversation took place).
On Nov. 14, or five days ago, the joint preliminary investigation committee completed its investigation.
On Nov. 16, per the Comelec chair, he received a copy of the report of the Comelec lawyers involved in the investigation, and its recommendations. Note: Only two days elapsed between the time of completion of the investigation and the recommendations.
On Nov. 17, the Comelec en banc voted to file charges against Arroyo, with two commissioners refusing to sign because they had not read the report.
Does that sound rushed or not?
Given that only one case has been charged out of the 39 “crimes” in the unofficial GMA list of crimes and that it is even turning out to be a bit “pilit”, one cannot help but see all these activities perpetuated by the incumbent President, Noynoy Aquino and condoned by the majority of the Filipino people as nothing more than sad jokes.
In life, things are not always what they seem.