“Shoot first, die second”

by Juan L. Mercado

“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.

Mayors Rodrigo Duterte and Tomas Osmena  deny they unleashed  Latin-American  style  esquadrones de la muerte.. But a revitalized Human Rights Commission  is probing deeper this time

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”?  

(E-mail: juanlmercado@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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