As we start a week of no trial sessions and face the prospect of several days of separation anxiety over not seeing our favourite characters in the on-going drama of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment, it may be worth looking back and getting a sanity check on what really got us to this point. We are here because we as a people do not think. Thinking is an immense challenge in Philippine society — because Filipinos are not raised to think, not encouraged to think, and not expected to think.
The low bar applied in the way Filipinos regard one another is evident at the very threads that weave the fabric of Philippine society. The most obvious and most currently-relevant example is in the way the impeachment complaint against Corona was initiated and pushed to the corner we see it languishing in today. It was sloppily-written (â€œpwede na yanâ€) and given the go signal by 188 chumps many of whom hadn’t taken the time to study it carefully (â€œbahala naâ€). The manner with which it was conceived alone already made the artifact that they call the “Articles of Impeachment” by itself an insult to the intelligence of educated Filipinos. So long before Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago first came up to the podium and called out “Spade!”, the prosecution team of this trial had already delivered their indictment — not of Corona but of the Filipino people. Quite obviously back then the prosecution team had already decided that Filipinos are idiots — gago. Indeed, only the underlying assumption that Filipinos are idiots could’ve possibly given the the prosecution team the foundational confidence to rally behind such an obviously flawed campaign in the manner with which they did.
So Senator Santiago called the prosecution team â€œgagoâ€ in the last session of the trial on the 29th February 2012. Predictably in a society long renowned for being populated by an onion-skinned people, Santiago drew the ire of the multitude of the personally-offended.
But if we step back from the quaint sense of personal offense that traces its roots from within the depths of our uniquely-fragile national ego, we will find that Senator Santiago was actually giving back to the prosecution team tit-for-tat. The prosecution team, after all, started it. In the vernacular, ginago nila ang mga Pilipino. They had built an entire campaign to oust Corona on the simple assumption that Filipinos will simply lap it all up — like idiots. And as such, they did not bother to do a good job — perpetuating much of the same way that Filipinos every day and in every aspect of their lives get substandard products, substandard services, and substandard leaders, simply because those who supply and sell them can.
When will this cycle of banal mediocrity end? It will end when we step up and assert our right to be given superior products. Senator Miriam Santiago did that for us over the course of the impeachment trial by being the loud and annoying voice of what intelligent consumers should be. We are, after all, ultimately the ones paying for this big circus. We have so far seen most of our Senator-Judges, the Senate President himself, and much of the way the defense team had behaved and played their role measure up to the cost of this spectacle. Only the prosecution and, by extension, the powers in MalacaÃ±ang that have now desperately come out swinging have proven to be the ones selling us short — even swindling us.
It is ironic that for 26 years, the notion of the “power” of the “people” was held hostage by a clique of feudal lords out to protect their family jewels from the very “people” they habitually wax poetic about. Filipinos are only now beginning to understand how much had already been swindled out of them — kung gaanong kalaki ang halaga na ginago sa kanila. Better late than never. Senator Miriam Santiago has so far been hugely instrumental in getting that effort of accounting started for us. Perhaps Hacienda Luisita is really not that unreasonable an item to include in our growing ledger of receivables.[Photo courtesy PinoyWeekly.org.]
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