Orchestrate A Lie

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

In the presidency of Corazon C. Aquino, several of her appointments immediately became objects of controversy. The military saw a few Cabinet Secretaries as left- leaning or actually Leftists. One was rumored to be corrupt early on, and another reckless or negligent in appointing O-I-Cs (Officer-In-Charge) in local government positions. None, however, in my recall, were terminated in the first 100 days, but almost all of the most controversial were changed.

In a presidency that I view as destined within his mother’s presidency and his father’s death before that, the term of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III cannot be normal. It can be great or it can be a disaster, but it cannot be normal. It is simply because his presidency is intimately connected to an unfinished drama, a people’s and nation’s angst played out through Ninoy, Cory, and now, Noynoy.

The hostage-taking fiasco cannot be simply swept aside without hard lessons learned. My own opinion of the situation as it reached the investigations by the Justice Department and the Congress was that it was ironic and farcical. In a mid-September article, I already mentioned that inefficiency cannot be criminalized. If it can, there are more who commit their own efficiencies with greater harm to our people and government than the bungled hostage rescue. If we have the performance of the Justice Department and Congress investigated, among others, with as much detailed focus as what the unfortunate accused in the hostage-taking endured, we may not forgive ourselves for the collapse of many public institutions as a result.

Making criminals out of ill-trained, ill-equipped policemen would be quite unfair if we do not make first criminals of those who made them so in the first place. Meritocracy would be such a noble system if it can be universally applied to all who serve the public interest first and foremost. Even media must stop claiming public interest if it’s pursuit of the truth is less important that it’s pursuit of profit. We cannot judge our public officials only by incidence; instead, we should judge them for every official act – every one of them.

It brings to mind the accusatory statements of the more guilty towards the less guilty. Mikey Arroyo was commenting about P-Noy’s decision on who to absolve in the jeuteng scandal brought about by claims without evidence and from information supplied by personalities with dubious characters. If we go by claims, Mikey Arroyo himself has been rumored with great consistency to be one of the worst thieves among government officials. Fortunately for him, and his illustrious or infamous parent, they have to be proven guilty of suspected plunder before they are hanged.

I question why Archbishop Cruz has not just as consistently accused Gloria, Mike and Mikey Arroyo of being the protectors, and first beneficiaries of jeuteng. After all, since he listens to rumors and accepts them without facts, he should have kept pounding away at the most consistent rumors of them all – that Gloria, Mike and Mikey Arroyo were getting hundreds of millions every month. Instead, Archbishop Cruz betrayed his gullibility by ascribing Usec Puno as the highest public official receiving P8 million monthly. In effect, he was accusing Puno of stupidity, not corruption.

In the minds, and tongues, of the majority of the Filipino people, the unpopularity of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stems from their judgment that she is corrupt and that she has led the Philippines to cement further it’s rating as the most corrupt country in the region. The people’s suspicion and negative judgment of Gloria finds affirmation in the judgment of international anti-corruption agencies with more credibility and professionalism in monitoring and measuring corruption. Yet, Gloria, Mike and Mikey Arroyo remain free instead of being behind bars because they have to be proven guilty in a court of law, not in a rumor mill.

If the nine years of a suspected plunderer have not established a systematic organization of mini-plunderers, then the Filipino people have gravely misjudged the Arroyo presidency – and the more infamous members of the Arroyo family. But If the Filipino people have basis for disapproving and not liking the Arroyo presidency year after year, then it is only logical that the whole government bureaucracy, including the Philippine Congress, have aided and abetted the perpetuation of a plundering president. In 100 days, no new president can dismantle a corrupt bureaucracy and Congress.

On the other hand, a cabal of thieves would find it easy to sabotage those who threaten it’s greedy interests. Between the continuation of a dirty system earning for it’s main protectors and beneficiaries billions very year is P-Noy and his elected few. They are the daily targets of that dirty system with billions to spend for their purposes. And they would like the Filipino people to believe that jeuteng rises and falls because of an undersecretary, or for P-Noy to himself protect the lord of jueteng lords under his presidency?

I do not know if Rico Puno is guilty or not, but I do know when the Filipino people are being taken for a ride. I also know that an honest man like President Noy will not knowingly protect a guilty subordinate even If that subordinate is a friend. It is easier to believe that a dirty system led by a cabal of plunderers will orchestrate a lie that for an honest man to protect a liar. For, indeed, it is not about an undersecretary but about the president himself.

I join 71% of my people who approve, and trust, P-Noy. I do not join the 11% who do not approve. In the hearts of the people is a collective intelligence that I believe in, as I believed it year after year when it disapproved, and distrusted, another president who ended up the most unpopular in the annals of Philippine history. Who will orchestrate a lie – he or she?

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