“Whoever shoots first, dies second”. That summarizes “mutual assured destruction”, the 1960’s doctrine on nuclear annihilation. “Mad” argues that populations are safest when the other side faces retaliatory obliteration.
Local politics has scaled-down versions of “Mad”. The strike-counterstrike of privileged speeches, by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jinggoy Estrada, guaranteed “mutual assured destruction”, predicted Senator Miriam Santiago.
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” the Greeks say. In the Cuban crisis, the US and Soviet Union packed enough nukes to exterminate each other – and the world. Neither was mad to pull the nuclear trigger. Thus, we’re alive today.
Russian ships ferrying missles to Havana turned back, US blockade teams didn’t board. “Mad” morphed, in the 1980’s, into “Star Wars”. And last Friday, the US, France, UK and allies revealed Iran furtively burrowed a secret nuclear enrichment plant into aQom mountain. That’s another column.
Here, Ping fired the first and third privilege speeches. Will he be the second to die politically?, people ask. On behalf of the former president, Jinggoy pulled the trigger in second and fourth speeches. Will Erap be just as dead?
“Both camps have the goods on each other”, observed Inquirer columnist Solita Collas-Monsod. “And why not? They were together for so long,” With signature candor, the professor-economist added: They were “a crooked duo”.
The sociologist John Carroll, SJ, likened politics here to a cockfight. But in this case, the two cocks will end up dead meat. The Republic gifted them with high posts. They used those positions instead for tawdry ends. And they turned into a cockpit a chamber that once boasted of a Jose Laurel, Claro Recto, Emmanuel Pelaez, Oscar Ledesma and Jovito Salonga.
Erap creamed jueteng payoffs, plus the monthly P5 million baksheesh for PNP chiefs, Lacson charged. He extorted Philippine Long Distance Telephone shares from industrialist Alfonso Yuchengco to favor Manny Pangilinan. On the sidelines, he coddled smugglers.
Casino worker Edgar Bentain leaked a video of Erap playing high stakes baccarat. Lacson let out that Bentain was rubbed out in Laguna. Estrada dealt directly with Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force officials linked to murder of publicist Salvador Dacer – who stashed documents on the Palace-BW stock scam.
Thomas a’ Becket, in 1170, infuriated Henry II with his criticisms. “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”, the monarch snarled. The king’s men took that as an order and cut Becket down. Did PAOCTF men do likewise to assuage Erap’s fury?
No, Senator Jinggoy snorted. Lacson had Dacer-Corbito murdered. If anything happened Lacson would be responsible, Dacer told his children. Jinggoy claimed.
He pinned on Lacson the Kuratong Baleleng massacre, rub out of a Western Manila police officer, Red Scorpion gang relatives, etc. He had witnesses — a 20 year old woman and an eight-year-old girl — dumped from a helicopter into waters off Corregidor. Other charges against Erap were “Fiction Parts I and II,”
Babati-bati, butas ang labi, says the Tagalog proverb. “He criticizes but is harelipped” This mutual suicide opens graves sealed by officials who found omerta, Mafia-type silence, just fine. Truth, however, rises on the third day.
Both Estrada and Lacson sought high posts. Both shun “command responsibility” and wash their hands of accountability. “Both did not lie,” says a joke bouncing on the Web. “Both told the truth – about the other.” Both took a decade before ventilating each other’s transgressions. And both have been shown up as unfit for public office.
“Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see ghosts floating between the lines”, Norweigian poet Henrik Ibsen mused. So, are there more skeletons? Will it take a falling out between buccaneers to unseal them?
The “10 Commandments”, in this country, have been devalued into the “10 Suggestions”. Divine strictures against murder,theft and perjury were fractured en-masse by Erap and Ping.
Presidents Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmena, Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos were not perfect. But they didn’t indulge in perjury, theft and murderas policy.
“Under Marcos, military murder was the apex of a pyramid of terror – 3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 jailed,” writes Alfred McCoy in “Closer Than Brothers” (Yale University).
“Under President Estrada, PMA Class 71” – which Marcos used as a mailed fist – “continued it rise to power within PNP”, McCoy told the Ateneo conference on legacy of dictatorship. Panfilo Lacson was deputy director of the notorious Military Intelligence Security Group and indicted for the brutal (Kuratong) massacre…”
Those with trifle with life create a culture of death, John Paul II warned. Pogroms decimated ranks of the Communist Party here. UN and US State Department reports pinpoint Davao and Cebu cities as “killing fields”for vigilantes.
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That “culture of death” saw the murder,last week, of Fr.Cecilio Lucero, This Samar priest tirelessly worked to secure rights of marginalized in Catarman diocese. Doesn’t this legacy stem from those who, like the Mafia, disguise crime – until exposed — by “Mad”?