It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
Everyone was glued to the ninth SONA of Dona Gloria, waiting for the moment when she would finally sing. She ain’t fat alright, but she’s the star of the long-running opera, tragedy to most, sheer fun to a few. All she did was to warble a fast version of “Her Way” --- “I did all that, and may I say, not in a shy way”, but she would neither begin nor end her song the way the videoke favourite starts --- “And now, the end is near, and I must face the final curtain”.
What have I been saying all along? The Dona won’t fade quietly into the night. She has aces up her sleeves. Wait till she returns from her Obama hegira. That’s when “her” actions unfold.
Many think, wishful at that, that Obama would pound some sense into her head, douse some cold water into her hot being. Perish the thought. She calculates, probably with precision, that geopolitics will not affect his focus on his country’s economic woes. If Bush would not lift a finger in Thailand, why would his successor pre-empt “her way” with her country?
She is so unlike a truly fine lady who now awaits what the Divine Maker decides, but has continually and consistently served the nation by reminding it of a moral compass. “But while my power as president ends in 1992, my responsibility as a citizen for the well-being of my country goes beyond it to my grave”, she said in 1991.
Many writers have commented on the “final” SONA that won’t be the last word. Many reactions have been made by politicians who either wish to share the limelight, or want to steal the show. But the SONA is “her” show, and truly, from the bated breath that could hardly disguise a state of mind unable to distinguish truth from reality, and unable to hide contempt for her enemies, let alone suppress smiles even when she knew the applause was “canned”, it was truly, genuinely, Dona Gloria. Even if I suspect the rhetorical flourishes and the “taray” words were ghost-written by one who wrote the same excerpts from a final SONA I shall now print, spoken by a lady who retired from the presidency with absolute grace, and now awaits her fate with amazing grace.
Read Cory Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address, minus a few paragraphs, and note how it was disingeniously used as template for Dona Gloria’s “final” SONA, without the same grace, without the same nobility, without real farewell:
“This is the last time I shall address you on such an occasion as this. Let us clear the air between us. (From the start, the tone of farewell was set).
“I could have made things easier for myself if I had opted for the popular.
“I could have repudiated the foreign debt, won the passing praise of a greatly relieved people, and the lasting contempt of a devastated country.
“I could have opted for outright hostility towards the international banking system and invited its retaliation. But the only result would have been to weaken the present democracy against the conspiracies of the former government which contracted the miserable debt in the first place. I would have taken the chance, if I were the only one at risk, but I had a country to take care of.
“I could have called for an elected constitutional convention. Surveys showed that an elected convention was the popular choice to draft a new constitution. But I believed it was more important to draft a constitution and submit it for ratification in the shortest time possible, and hold elections immediately. The people and the army needed a full elected government and a constitution around which to rally in defense of freedom.
“I could not afford the luxury of the popular by waiting out the endless deliberations of an elected convention, like the 1971 Constitutional Convention. And besides, what was so great about that experience? After a year of talk and scandal, the final draft was prepared in Malacañang, approved by the frightened Convention, and ratified in a fraudulent plebiscite. (The 1972 Constitution was submitted to Ferdinand Marcos by Diosdado P. Macapagal, the president he defeated, who had managed to get himself elected president of the constitutional convention. Unlike Marcelo B. Fernan, Teofisto Guingona, Augusto Caesar Espiritu, Alejandro Lichauco, and a dozen others whose names escape me at the moment, who refused to sign that constitution tampered in the palace).
“I could have made things easier for myself if I had allowed the Executive to influence the decisions of constitutional commissions. I might have spared myself deep embarrassments by interfering with the judgments of the courts. But I uphold the independence of these bodies. I am convinced it is in all our best interest to respect an independence that may thwart the government’s will from time to time – but is yet our best assurance of justice when we will need justice most.
“I firmly believe in the freedom of the press. And I accept the criticisms poured on me, painful as they are, as part and parcel of the hazards of public service, and conducive to its honest performance. True, I have sued for libel, but I did not use the power of the presidency to advance my cause. And this is shown by the fact that four years later my case continues to drag on. I have not forgotten that what my husband wanted most in prison was for the public to hear the side of freedom, and no newspaper would print it.
“I submitted myself to the judicial process as an ordinary citizen, and exposed myself to indignities a president should not endure.” (Contrast this to E.O. 464 and “executive privilege” used over and over again). “But I want to encourage people to seek redress in the law, despite the inconvenience, rather than in vindictiveness, which has no end. I want them to make the cause of justice for one, the cause of justice for all…
“We can roll back prices at the drop of a hat and spare ourselves al the aggravation, but we learned that hasty rollbacks exacted a heavier, long-term cost on the economy, and, ultimately, on the people, than they had saved…
“I could have said, “Let my successor be presented with the bill for my popularity today.” But it is the people who would pay the price, and I am not made that way.
“I did not always adopt the ideal solutions proposed by those who have the luxury of contemplation. Government often had to do what pressing realities compelled it. And if the government sometimes lacked better choices, it never lacked the sincere desire to do good.
“I could have promoted only military officers popular with the press, and ignored the experience of a democratic government that has been the principal military objective of the rebel forces and an insurgency that just doesn’t know when to quit. But I chose instead commanders of proven courage, leadership, and fidelity to the Constitution.
“I could do the smart thing still, and do the things my opponents unfairly charge me of preparing – rigging the elections in 1992, the way I did not rig the ratification of the Constitution, the national elections, and the local elections. They way they rigged elections from 1969 to 1986. But my instructions to the military and police are explicit. Let them hear it again:
“The right of the soldier and the policeman is merely to cast his vote; his greater and solemn obligation is to assure the right of others to cast their votes and get them honestly counted. No soldier has the right to combine with his comrades to campaign for a person or party and deliver to them a block of the military vote. No member of the military shall lend his name, prestige, and the influence of his position to anyone’s campaign. The same holds true for the police. (Read this --- Esperon, Lomibao, Ebdane, et al.)
“The military has earned the people’s trust as the spearhead of their liberation and the constant defender of their democracy. To these honours it is my aim to add the distinction of shepherding our democracy through its first political succession, by clean and peaceful elections.
“I will not preside as Commander-in- Chief over the kind of military that cheated the opposition in 1978, and me in 1986. That would insult the memory of the man to whom I dedicate this last address to the joint houses of Congress, and stain the proud achievement of this nation in 1986.
“I specifically charge AFP Chief of Staff General Lisandro Abadia and PNP Director General Cesar Nazareno with the responsibility to assure clean and honest elections. While they may not fear my displeasure because I will not be president then, they will face the judgement of the disappointed country. (Read this --- Delfin Bangit and Roberto Rosales).
“Yes, I could have done all those things that win wide acclaim, exiting as grandly as any president could wish. But while my power as president ends in 1992, my responsibility as a Filipino for the well-being of my country goes beyond it to my grave. A great part of that responsibility is to do the best I can today, according to my best lights, while I have the power to do it.
“As President, I have never prayed for anything for myself; only for our people. I have been called an international beggar by the military rebels. Begging does not become me, yet – perhaps – it is what I had to do. I could have kept my pride and held aloof, but that would not have helped our people. And it is for them that I was placed in this office.
“Someone who will stand in this place next year may do better, for I believe in the inexhaustible giftedness of the Filipino people. I only hope that he will be someone who will sincerely mean you well.
“I hope that history will judge me as favourably as our people still regard me, because, as God is my witness, I honestly did the best I could. No more can be asked of any man.
“On June 30, 1992, the traditional ceremony of political succession will unfold at the Luneta. The last time it was done that way was in 1965. I shall be there with you to proudly witness the event. This is the glory of democracy, that its most solemn moment should be the peaceful transfer of power. (Now contrast this definitive statement with the Dona’s pa-cute remark about getting down the stage and still being president until 2010).
“Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat at paalam.”
Farewell could not have been mistaken in that 1991 SONA of Corazon C. Aquino, a great lady for whom the nation now prays. Despite her failings, the people respect her, and history will always speak well of her.
What of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo? Likely she cares not about history.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 10:27 PM