60 minutes on ANC
I am told that the show has been replayed at least thrice already (Friday morning at 11 am, Saturday evening, and this morning). I am also told that there are people out there who have taped that show and are reproducing vcds of it for distribution among their friends. I hope someone out there will eventually find a way to upload that interview in the net; unfortunately, I am not very techno-savvy so the chances of having clips of that interview in this blog is like expecting rain at the Sahara during summer.
In that ANC show, Ricky called me the "poster boy" of the middle class. Yesterday, Alex Magno in his column at the Star called me the "prophet of the middle class" and "someone who personifies this nation's thoughtful and articulate Everyman." I do not know what to make of these new appellations - I still have to get used to the idea of having whatever I say dissected - but if that letter did strike a chord among many Filipinos and if it has paved the way for a more enlightened debate on the issues, then who I am to argue?
I cannot go into details of what transpired in that show, but to the best of my recollection, here are some of the highlights of what I said in that show (My critics: I know this is self-serving, so there is no need to point that out to me):
1. I explained the context around that letter, when, how, and what compelled me to write that letter. I apologized to ordinary people out there who did go to EDSA or Ayala on February 24 merely to celebrate the 20th anniversary of People Power, without any knowledge of the conspiracy between the left and the right and some sectors of civil society and business to overthrow the government through extra-constitutional means, and who felt slighted by that letter.
2. I explained that, generally, I have nothing against people who demonstrate. The rant in that letter was addressed mainly to those who were in on the conspiracy and yet pontificated on media that they were merely exercising their democratic rights and freedoms. I do find this duplicity repulsive: people seeking protection from the same democratic tenets that they are violating wantonly in the first place.
3. I also ranted against the deception and the attempts to obfuscate about what really transpired during that fateful weekend. Subsequent revelations have already made certain things clear: there was a conspiracy, there was a plan to install a military junta, certain people were offered a seat in that junta (and some, like Senator Ping Lacson and Bro. Eddie Villanueva have gone on record as saying they were offered but they refused the invitation), there was a money trail. And yet, how dare these people continue to assert that it was a simple expression of "freedom of expression" and "freedom of assembly."
4. Ricky asked what I thought about the assertion that extra-constitutional attempts to overthrow the government is justified considering that Congress itself has violated the constitution by throwing the impeachment case against GMA. I said that this was a matter of perspective. However, I said that while I myself am guilty of trashing Congress on some occasions (I have called them crocodiles in the past), the truth of the matter is that Congress also represents the best and the worst among us. Some of the best people in this country are in Congress and I refuse to believe that these people act like dumb driven cattle. I just do not buy the argument that everyone who voted against the impeachment did so on the basis of mere loyalty to GMA. I refuse to engage in mass repudiation of other people's honor and competence simply because I do not approve of some of their actions.
But granting for the sake of argument that Congress did fail on their solemn duty, I wondered why there is no call to abolish congress or to recall all the congressmen who voted against the impeachment.
5. Ricky asked me if I wasn't bothered about the "cheating" issue and about the Garci tapes. I said that I am generally against cheating in any form. I reiterated that I personally do not allow cheating in my classes (I teach four nights a week at a school at Taft Avenue). However, I maintained that cheating in elections is a serious issue that has been there since time immemorial and that kicking GMA will not solve that problem. And then I repeated that argument that is found in the post in this blog (How that letter came to be written).
6. However, the main point I raised was this: we fought so hard to restore democratic processes in this country, and yet when the fruits of these processes do not meet our personal preferences, we find it convenient to advocate doing away with these processes altogether. I explained that this is the main reason why I am for retaining GMA at this time - even if I do not like her- because I refuse to be selective about what aspects of democracy I want to uphold.
7. I maintained that if there is sufficient grounds and evidence to impeach GMA, then by all means, they should be filed in July and that Congress had better do a better job at it. I said that opposition congressmen are doing a disservice to this country and to Congress itself as an institution when they flail around and throw public tantrums when they lose their cause. In more mature democracies adherence to the results of democratic processes is a natural consequence. Unfortunately, in this country, walang natatalo in an election or in an argument -when they lose, nadaya sila or the process was unfair.
8. I am a Human Resource Management practitioner and I shared what many of us in the business sector know for a fact: there are many opportunities out there for the Philippines. Unfortunately, these opportunities are wasted because media projection of our country abroad is that we are a nation that is in a state of anarchy, that all we do everyday is bludgeon each other in the streets and take shabu. Investors are scared of coming into our country because of the perceived political instability and in our ability to respect democratic processes. Why do we have to stand in the way of progress just because we do not like the president?
9. Therefore, I reiterated many times that we should let the democratic processes take their natural courses. There are are proper courts and venues where people can seek redress for their grievances and we should trust the institutions and the people we elected to do these things to do the right thing. We just have to trust them. And if the results do not suit our personal preferences, then we should resolve to fight better and harder another day.
10. I expressed outrage at the assertion that Filipinos are apathetic just because we are not out in the streets or just because we haven't mustered collective indignation over what the moralists claim as wholesale destruction of the moral fabric of society. I said that we pay lip service to slogans like "Ang galing ng Pinoy" or "Bilib ako sa Pinoy" or "Matalino and Pinoy" and yet we do not trust that the ordinary Filipino will stand up for himself when he sees the need to do it.
11. I commented on the results of recent surveys that show GMA's ratings plunging. I said that leadership can not be a popularity contest and that popularity is only a valid issue during elections. I remember saying that a leader who sacrifices principles and program of government at the altar of popularity is doomed to fail. I also said that I agree that GMA's removal from office is a possible solution to end the bickering, but I maintained that this should not be done through extra-constitutional processes. After all, the same surveys show that only about 10% of those surveyed agree to a military junta.
12. Yes, I also took up the cudgels for Enteng Romano. I said that I did not approve of Enteng's arrest at Baywalk. I said that since the threats have been reduced, then there is no more need to arrest people without the necessary warrants.
There was a point in that interview when I was rather ambivalent. This was the time when Ricky wanted me to name names. I should have put my foot down at that point and refused point blank because like I said, I think that it is time to move the discussion to a higher level - out of the name calling and blamestorming. But then again, hindsight is always 20/20 vision.
After the interview, Ricky told me that the most powerful statement I made in that show was this "I am a consumer, please do not blame me if I do not buy your product." This was my message to the opposition and members of civil society who continue to call me names and put me down because I do not agree with their cause.
I would like to thank Ricky Carandang for being such a gracious and intelligent host. If I did well in that interview, it was mainly because Ricky's sincerity was so palpable one could almost touch it in that small studio.
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I have received many requests for me to move "platforms" from blogging to the mainstream media. I am not yet sure yet if I want to do this. Like I said, I am an ordinary person with too many preoccupations - a fulltime job, a consulting practice, a teaching job, and a Foundation to oversee. But who knows. Like I said before, I never expected to be a mouthpiece for any cause, I never expected that letter to be that big. But I guess some things in this world are just beyond our control. I will cross the bridge when I get there.
But I want to again express my sincerest gratitude to all those who continue to express support for me. I truly appreciate the trouble you are taking to leave encouraging words in this blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how much you inspire me.