Replaying Aesop

by Juan L. Mercado

“Will  Gloria  Macapagal- Arroyo do a  Ramona  Bautista?”, our 15-year old grandson  Adrian  asked  over lunch.

“Mara” is one of  Ramon  Revilla’ Senior’ s  45 children, the senator’s sister Rowena says.   No, disagrees  a  spokesperson for the 84-year old former  senator.  Revilla  Sr. sired  84 kids from 16 mothers. The  man  said  80 —  after  his  son  Ramgen was murdered.

Ramona, brother Ramon Jose (RJ)  and  three companions  were  linked by Paranaque police to  the rubout.  Mara was  to  testify, on November 8, on flip-flopping  statements.  Instead, she skipped to Hong Kong Friday,  leaving  RJ  in the slammer.

Her departure card and one-way ticket indicated she could  fly on to Istanbul, immigration spokespersons  confirmed.  She is married to a citizen of Turkey.

Return and  sing. Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. urged her half-sister.  Turkey has no extradition treaty with the  Philippines.  So, he asked  Ramona’s mother Gemeleyn  Magsaysay to weigh in. “Stay out of my family’s affairs,” snapped  Mara’s  mom.

The Justice  Department  may request  International  Police to add Ramona’s name to it’s “Red Notice List.” Few bet that  Bautista will buy a return ticket for Manila soon.

In contrast,  former president Arroyo and the  ex-First Gentleman  will book round trips, says GMA chief of staff, Elena Bautista Horn.  That ‘d  reinforce  GMA’s request  that  government allow her to seek  “metabolic bone biopsy” abroad. This procedure can’t be done here. Physicians, however, zippered their lips.

Supposedly ailing, GMA wants to make side  trips. These include the Clinton Global Initiative and International Commission Against Death Penalty. Will GMA and Mike use their return tickets from venues sans extradition treaties?

“Should we take the word of someone who said she would not run again but did?,” asks ”Sun Star columnist Melanie.   “Gloria’s word is not worth much today.”

We’re  seeing a replay of Aesop’s  fable: “The boy who cried wolf”.   A shepherd-boy cons villagers  with  false cries of wolf attacks, the Greek storyteller (c. 620 —  564 BC )  wrote. Then, a wolf actually tears into his flock. But  villagers shrug off his screams.

Across the centuries, the English idiom ‘to cry wolf’, evolved to mean  triggering false alarm. “The punishment of liars is when they speak truth they are not believed”,  Aristotle  wrote. Wait.  GMA can give you the Pampango version: Ing  malaram maniabiya mang catutuan, E no mapaniwalan capilan man.’

The word of a Don Sergio Osmena was gilt edged.  But GMA’s?  Just over half a century separates the first president of  postwar Philippines and  the 14th President  of the republic.  Yet, palabra de honor has been severely devalued. Why?   This merits  discussion.

For now, it is enough  to note that GMA accepts the “the boy-who-cried-wolf” syndrome crimps her wish to scream and, sad to say, her diminished  state. The former president submitted a notarized statement that she will return, her spokesperson says. Isn’t that enough?

Well, no says Senator Panfilo Lacson.  GMA should first submit counter-affidavits on the plunder and electoral sabotage cases she is being accused of. These are  non-bailable offenses. “That way, GMA does not delay or frustrate the preliminary investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice.”

Will anything be required of the First Gentleman? The Senate Blue Ribbon committee necklaced  Mike Arroyo with dumping overpriced second hand helicopters, after GMA’s campaign, on the Philippine National Police.

Ping should know. He kept a step ahead of a court posse for 14 months in the  murder of PR man Salvador Dacer and driver, by  Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force  men when he was top honcho. That case remains unsolved.

Justice Secretary Lilia de Lima has the unenviable task of balancing the constitutional right to travel, which the Marcos dictatorship shredded, with the likelihood of flight,  which is high.

She crafts recommendations for President Aquino’s decision even as Dinagat congressman Ruben Ecleo continues to elude arrest.  After four reviews, the Supreme Court confirmed, Sandiganbayan’s October 2006 decision, sentencing Ecleo to 30 years for graft. A Cebu court reconfirmed validity of an arrest warrant for murder of Ecleo’s wife.

Gloria, Ramona and Ecleo are not just more of the same.  These cases underscore that “premium must be put on building a judiciary and police force that are seen as honest fair and acting with integrity, says the new  Asian  Development Bank  study “Asia 2050 Realizing the Asian Century”.

To “reinforce an  “Asia on the cusp of historic transformation”, ensure that the rule of law applies to everyone.  Build strong transparent institutions.They define success. If graft is unchecked,  it  will eventually  suffocate rule of law. Devise participatory and accountability  mechanisms.”  Build a civil service on merit. Implementation is what matters.

The costs of missing the “Asian Century” would be staggering, says this new ADB analysis. GDP per capita would only be $20,600, not $40,800.  Zones of modernity would coexist with zones of misery.  “Billions will have to wait for another generation, or more”, for better lives.

(Email: juanlmercado@gmail.com)

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