Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why I no longer believe

Dear President Arroyo:

When on April 12, 2007 you granted conditional pardon to one Jaime Ponce de Leon, a private contractor convicted of 27 counts of graft and sentenced to 203 years imprisonment by two divisions of the Sandiganbayan, but who didn’t spend a single second of his jail term precisely because of your act of condoning a criminal, I decided, right there and then, finally and irrevocably, not to believe anymore a word you say.

Pardon me, therefore, (that’s become your habit anyway), for writing you this letter. Like most ordinary Filipinos, I need a release, a safety valve, from the rising anger over your complete and unashamed prostitution of the presidency which you hijacked from Joseph Estrada in 2001, and stolen from Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004.

Forgive me, for like many ordinary citizens, I can no longer wait for the election in 2010, because this chance, this opportunity, to discard you and your company of highwaymen—robbers and killers—has become doubtful every passing day.

And now that I have in three paragraphs initially let out this long-repressed impression, allow me to proceed clear-headed, and to outline why your word has lost its value to a father.

Do you know Jose Rizal and do you remember that on his death anniversary on December 30, 2003, in a cold morning in Baguio City, you announced before a relieved nation that you will no longer stand for election in 2004?

If you do, then surely, you will remember that you said “Hello, Garci?” during those fateful days in the summer of 2004 because you lied and then scratched your itch to run and you actually ran?

But if you don’t, then why did you say “I’m sorry” after your administration shrieked in panic that the controversy over your cheating FPJ might consume yourself and your band?

This is—I believe—the root cause of all the troubles you are now having; troubles that, because you never took the effort to resolve, now hound and affect us, the ordinary Filipino citizens; troubles that won’t allow us—and you—to rest even if we are already very tired, for the truth.

“Magtapat ka sa kakaunting bagay, pamamahalain kita sa maraming bagay.”

This is a Bible verse with a promise. If only you knew this, it would have spurred you to do something quickly to stem the endless anomalies, scams, shenanigans, abuses, and other acts of criminal commissions and omissions in government even before they metastasized from rumor to fact.

Had you only heeded this Christian admonition, the affliction brought to us by your and your men’s naked gluttony for power and pelf would have been healed and God, as He promised, would have multiplied your dominion and enhanced your reputation. Alas, you didn’t, and look what happened. Our nation is suffering dearly from a crisis not of our own making. A crisis midwifed by a lie.

Why did I lose faith in your word?

Because many of the things you said—and continue to say—had and are the reverse of reality.

When, for example, you label those who oppose you by marching on the streets as terrorists, it is your men who actually terrorize us through their excessive use of power: armed force, extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances; sometimes even threats of BIR investigations.

When, for example, whistleblowers like Jun Lozada spill the beans on your officials—some of whom don’t know how to count votes but are accurate in counting dollar commissions—you say to us that accusations like this are politically motivated.

What can I say? You and your men have become experts at stretching the imagination to suit your purposes. Such as when your deputy spokesperson blamed Senator Antonio Trillanes IV last November for the rising LPG prices. And a sucker of a congressman for calling him un-Filipino.

When, for example, it is your husband who gets implicated in some wrong-doing and you and your daughter Luli say that your husband does not interfere in any government transaction, the truth according to the grapevine is that his imprint is visible in many government deals, minor and major. Like NBN-ZTE, etc.

And when you say ramdam na ramdam na ang paglago ng ekonomiya, the truth really is that ramdam na ramdam na ng iyong mga kurakot na alipores ang paglago ng kanilang kabuhayan at ari-arian. Just look at the number of Filipinos wanting to get out to work abroad even under despicable conditions and for insulting wages. This is the reverse of what you say.

Mrs. President, what else do you and your men need? You have enough wealth to last you several lifetimes. I don’t. Sixty five percent of the population certainly doesn’t, as most Filipino poor continue to cry for jobs, affordable health care, clean water as well as clean government, even a nighttime of peace and quiet.

You, who claim to be schooled in economics, say that progress will come if we only don’t march on the streets and agree to all the things that you do for us.

Alright, but what do we do when, in the dead of the night, your security forces come knocking on the doors of those who fight for us—the journalists and writers, the priests and nuns, and the patriotic soldiers—and snatch them and still their voices which are our voices, too?

What do we do when we see your men tripping over each other while lying through their teeth, while bribing congressmen and local officials, just to suppress the truth? You still want us to believe that is progress?

I have totally lost faith in your word.

I don’t anymore believe you will stamp out graft and corruption because you have been saying this for the last seven years with the result that graft and corruption have only multiplied manifold, not diminished a bit. Pray, tell, where is the P3 billion you allocated sometime a year ago to fight graft and corruption?

You say, "Bring your evidence to court". But some of the judges are your puppets. Take a look at Jaime Ponce de Leon. Take a longer look at Joseph Estrada. And take a look at your generals selling AFP rifles and diesel fuel to the enemies and short-changing the soldiers by withholding their allowances and uniforms and bullets. Consider the car smugglers also known as customs and police officials. In fact, consider everything evil in government, most of which lead to your doorstep even if these take long-winded routes before becoming public knowledge.

You want us to believe you, but do you believe us? Do you even listen to us?

I don’t anymore believe you have at heart the interest of our OFWs—the only ones really sustaining the economic life of the country.

For if you really care about them, you would have stamped out the corrupt at the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration and other state organs, such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, who are in cahoots with some licensed recruitment agencies, airport immigration officials, unscrupulous foreign agencies and employers, in sucking the blood dry of unsuspecting and helpless migrants.

And I don’t believe anymore at your repetitive invocation of the rule of law. Rule of law?

Excuse me, but you are the number one violator of the laws of this country. The laws you have transgressed ranged from the simple traffic laws to the moral law of honesty to the constitutional tenets of human rights and liberties. You even refuse to yield your petty tyrants—Romulo Neri, come out!—to the legislative branch by invoking your presidential powers to keep them out of reach of legislative inquiries. You even defy the Supreme Court even if it has repeatedly admonished you.

And when you can no longer stem the rising, surging truth from coming out, your officials, I suspect with your full approbation, resort to threats, or bribery and, in the case of Jun Lozada, kidnapping.

You will really stop at nothing to perpetuate yourself in power. You have been intoxicated and refuse to come to your senses for fear of waking up with a painful hangover.

Mrs. President, you are getting isolated from reality as the days pass by. Perhaps, your view of the country from the Palace is still as rosy as your lieutenants paint the country to be. But realize that they are drawing open for you the heavy curtains of a wrong window.

The grim view is that the people are angry—very angry—at your hard-headedness, at your insolence, at your refusal to correct your mistakes. And at your men’s greed and abuse.

We don’t like you to walk the path of Marcos, but it increasingly looks like it’s where you are heading.

Don’t say you were not forewarned.


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