Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Man and woman of the decade

The last ten years have been most traumatic for democracy which was re-established with the ascent of Corazon Aquino to the presidency in 1986. The decade began with the usurpation of political power in the throes of what has been labelled as Edsa Dos, when a legitimately elected and duly constituted president was thrown out of the seat of power without benefit of the formal processes of a concluded impeachment trial. The beneficiary of that illegitimate effort was, and still is --- Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She is the woman of this decade.

And then again, in 2004, democracy was to be tested in its fundamental institution --- the freedom of popular choice that is measured by elections. The election of the woman of the decade was largely put under question. Ironically, that question was momentarily put to rest by the “loser” in said elections, FPJ, who quietly went through the motions of a formal election protest. Observers at the time wondered what could have happened had the “losing” FPJ decided to call on his supporters to march into the streets, or onto the Malacanang they felt was stolen from the people. As fate would have it, a heartbroken FPJ died some six months later, and the grieving widow, Jesusa Sonora Poe, could have used sad occasion to retrieve Malacanang for the people. She did not. It was to her mind, for the people and not for her family alone to reclaim their democratic right.

Confirmation of dastardly electoral deeds came when in the middle of 2005, the tapes of Garci conversing with several, but most importantly, his principal, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (misma!), came to fore. All hell could have broken loose, as democracy foundered on the shoals of discovered cheating and incessant lying.

The man who engineered the cheating, Virgilio Garcillano, commissioner of the Commission on Elections and principal operator of electoral chicanery, was conspiratorially spirited out of the country during those critical times, to surface only when incipient congressional effort to impeach was successfully quelled by the abuse of presidential power and the dispensation of privilege. No man has symbolized the destruction of the electoral institution of free choice more than Virgilio Garcillano and her “Hello Garci”. To this day, election as the most fundamental of democracy’s institutions have yet to recover credibility or trust, thanks to the man of the decade --- Virgilio Garcillano.

Yes --- Garcillano as Man and Gloria as Woman of the Decade. Both personify in the most certain of terms the destruction of the institutions of our fragile democracy.

Runner-up to Garcillano is the woman’s esposo (mismo!), Jose Miguel Arroyo y Tuason. Where Gloria and Garci have epitomized cheating and lying, the perception that Mike Arroyo is behind most of the stealing that has hounded his wife’s leadership persists to this day. Rightly or wrongly, the popular belief that Mike is behind the major corruption practices in Customs, in multi-billion road projects, in scandalous deal after anomalous deed in government, such as the stinking ZTE-NBN fiasco, has persisted to this day. Were it not for my own assessment that Garci and Gloria’s stealing of popular choice and debauchery of our electoral institution is paramount in its scope of evil compared to corruption most gross, El Esposo Miguel would be our choice as Man of the Decade. And how appropriate it should be that this horrible decade should have husband and wife as it’s Man and Woman.

But then again, only a cretin would hold that Mike’s deeds are without knowledge or consent of the woman. She after all, holds the power of appointment, not he. Even if we were to assume that his influence over such sordid appointments as Joc-Joc and ilk stopped after they were given their working papers, the fact is that she abetted their continued stay in power even after stink had been uncovered. And the normal wheels of justice were stopped or re-directed to allow them to stay or cover their tracks, with the woman of the decade abetting the same.

Thus the woman and the man are one and the same --- partners in crime. The sins of the man are subsumed within the power of the woman. And Garci, because he has come to personify the debasement of our electoral institution, is appropriately the Man of the Decade.

Together Gloria and Garci personify corruption at its worst. It’s not just the abuse of power and the plunder of public resources. It is about the destruction of moral values. It’s about the destruction of our institutions. Rightly and indeed, the worsening of the people’s poverty is attributable to the denial of those basic services that ought to have uplifted them from the quagmire, instead denied by the pervasive corruption of Gloria’s regime.

Marcos and Imelda did it by closing down democracy itself. Gloria and Garci did it by subverting democracy. Theirs has been the more creative, the more subtle way to pursue ignoble ends.

Now the whole country looks forward to an electoral exercise five months and five days away as deliverance from the deadly duo. And key to this deliverance is an electoral exercise fraught with the uncertainty of automation both questionable and untested, and players who hardly excite with the message of genuine change. Still and all, superimposed upon these uncertainties is the spectre of the woman of the decade unfurling some tricks up her sleeve, not the least of which is naked military take-over, a la Marcos.

Why, even her grand-daughter, El Hijo Mikey’s own, could not help but express her Christmas wish aloud --- that Lola will remain president forever! Drummed incessantly into her ears by dinner talk? Truly, the desire for perpetual power must be genetic.

We are thus off to 2010 hobbled by fear and anxiety. While elections seem to purvey hope, the same hope founders on doubt and uncertainty. And the aces are yet held by the woman of this horrible decade. Woe unto us.

Optimism reared its presence, albeit ironically, when democracy’s popular icon, Cory Aquino, died last August 1, 2009. With the outpouring of grief came the luminescence of hope, in that Gloria’s days are surely at an end, and attempts to thwart our 2010 hopes shall be met by active public resistance. Would that these shall come to pass.


Stella Arnaldo said...

Welcome back Mr. Banayo. We missed your valuable political insights. Cheers to a new decade where hopefully, characters the likes of Garci and GMA will no longer be your Man and Woman of the Decade.