Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may still be the number 1 target of the Aquino administration, as seen in the recent plunder case leading to her recent arrest. Even the Corona impeachment is nothing more than an extension of the outrage… nah, hate fad against GMA. The biggest target of the current administration may be to jail GMA forever, and proclaim this to the world as its greatest achievement.
The problem is, it may not really be an achievement. It may itself actually be a problem.
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Here’s my explanation as used in comments at the GRP group to describe GMA’s situation: You know you have a lot of thieves in your town. Because they’re hard to catch, you decide to take one who is only a suspect, not proven to be a thief, but you publicly torture and execute him just the same. So you declare that thievery has ended in your town, even if all the other thieves in the town are still roaming free. Even if that executed person is guilty, it does not solve the thievery in the town at all.
I think this is a part of Filipino culture: substitutive punishment. Possibly, if a customs official under the current administration is caught taking money from shipments, that person won’t be punished; GMA will be punished in their stead. Perhaps this kind of thing happens to other people as well who are innocent. It may be a reason why there are many cases of wrongly imprisoned people languishing in our jails, as a lawyer I know said. Injustice, it is.
Another idea I have is that some Filipinos are probably so frustrated by continued failures to put away officials declared corrupt. For example former president Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder, but was pardoned, so they keep on pressing for GMA to be punished hard just to assuage this frustration. Even if she’s the only one to be taken out. Maka-isa lang. “Puede na yan” mentality.
OK, let’s say she’s guilty. One of the rationales for the fervency in the anti-GMA movement is that she will be made an example and will scare the corrupt people in government, discouraging them from being corrupt. But for me, even if GMA is jailed, it is no assurance that it is the first step in addressing corruption in the country. If corrupt officials are themselves behind the effort, then putting GMA away won’t scare them; they’ll in fact be happy. They got her out of their way. It will allow them to monopolize the corruption. And as economics dictates, in a monopoly, prices tend to be higher.
Some people may cite former DILG undersecretary Rico Puno as an example of the administration’s commitment to addressing corruption. But Puno resigned. He wasn’t even investigated or punished. In effect, he got away scot-free.
Now what if GMA is convicted of a lighter charge, let’s say, malversation? And the case is strong, yet it only deserves a lighter punishment? Perhaps the staunch anti-Glorianists will start kicking and screaming and cry for a heavier punishment. Even today, you see people doing that. They want GMA tortured, killed, strung-out, or whatever heinous action they could think of. Simply because, they’ve been mind-jobbed by the big mass media outlets to feel that way (feel, without thinking). People have been conditioned to be a violent mob. Dick Gordon: “the problem with us is we do not think, we just react.”
Injustice, it is. Stupidity, it may even be more.
I see the very reason for the administration being so hell-bent on giving GMA grand punishments is to cover up for their own failures (or their own sneaky tactics, like the passing of the Cybercrime Law). And perhaps to cover-up their own corruption. Of course, one disguise for corrupt officials is to appear as anti-corruption crusaders. For people who are easily fooled by rhetoric and song-and-dance, it works.
Thus, the anti-GMA effort is nothing more than a grand distraction to take us away from the more important issues. Such as the failure of the CCT program, high prices despite the strong peso, our deteriorating business environment, increasing crime in the country and the need to address stupid laws (like the country’s Libel law) and change them.
Even if GMA is jailed permanently, the country’s problems will not be solved. Those problems are mostly not connected to her; many of them have been around ever since the country was founded. Most of these are actually found in the common attitudes of Filipinos. One of these problems is the attitude of looking for something in the past to blame, instead of looking ahead to see what we really have to do. And another is that everyone but ourselves is to blame. These kinds of attitudes have to be put away. I agree with Arche: change in the country has to start from the bottom.
And isn’t it time to stop using scapegoats?
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.