Sunday, September 30, 2007

Conspiracy theories

Just got back from Cebu. Sorry this post is very late.

My column last Monday (It’s not just about the money) netted a number of reactions, which can be roughly categorized into three schools of thoughts.

First, there were those who agreed with me and said they were also, in the words of one J. Reyes, “disgusted” by the way this administration had not learned its lesson. Indeed it had, in a seemingly reckless manner, thrown away the chance of redemption that had been grudgingly offered to it in the aftermath of the destabilization plots and impeachment proceedings two years ago.

The informal consensus I got from the responses under this category of opinions was that while it may be difficult to prove the President’s direct involvement in the stinking ZTE deal, it would take a major effort to salve the feeling of betrayal and silent outrage.

I am afraid public opinion will not be on her side on this one. I strongly believe that while many will continue to prefer to gnash their teeth and seethe in private, the resentment will fester nevertheless.

There’s just too much bad history behind the tenuous relationship between this administration and the Filipino people, which makes the stink of the ZTE deal difficult to ignore.

But is it enough to finally oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from Malacañang?
Quite frankly, I don’t think so. A critical factor will be Romy Neri’s testimony at the Senate today. But even if Neri directly implicates the President, which I doubt very much given the pressures from both sides of the political divide weighing down on him—yes, I believe there is pressure from both sides—the House of Representatives will still have to impeach her. And as we all know, it can’t be done.

Our representatives may go through the motions of expressing disgust and outrage. At the end of the day, however, political loyalties will prevail. There are more than enough conspiracy theories that can be trundled out to explain why and how. There’s the theory that the Speaker of the House will guarantee that impeachment will not prosper as long as he retains his hold on the speakership.

There’s the other theory that presumably involves Pablo Garcia’s successful rise to the speakership, provided he can guarantee that impeachment will not prosper. And so on and so forth.

And then there were people who wrote in to taunt me for what they consider “last minute change of heart.” Someone actually had the audacity to accuse me of “shifting loyalties when it has become apparent that the Macapacal-Arroyo regime is already crumbling.” The writer did not specify the supposed benefits I would get from “shifting loyalties.” I am not a political figure and I do not have plans of running for public office. I also don’t have a great desire to be popular.
The general drift of these comments all hue closely to the same old refrain: Putting me to task for supposedly being the spokesperson of the “move on” pack.

I am actually immune to these kinds of reactions. The only reason I am bringing these up now is because I want to highlight the polarity of opinions out there. I get these kinds of comments in my Web log a lot.

Incidentally, let me digress a little bit and take this opportunity to inform readers of my blog (www.bongaustero.blogspot.com) that I still haven’t been able to fix the bug that disables publication of comments. I get to read the comments, I just don’t get to publish them in my blog.
That’s mainly because I just haven’t had the time to fix it due to heavy workload.
A friend of mine with an overactive imagination has forwarded this conspiracy theory that my blog has been hacked and that it is being monitored. Possible, but unlikely because I hardly update my blog. There’s nothing there that is worth the trouble.

Anyway. It is very clear that some people have already made up their minds on a number of issues a long time ago and are so convinced that their opinions are the only correct ones that everyone else who disagrees or possesses a divergent or contrary point of view is simply misguided.

These kinds of comments and reactions amaze me, not only because they represent this tendency to indulge in simplistic stereotyping and generalizing. They also remind you of the Darth Vader principle: If you are not on my side, you are my enemy. Even now that they perceive me as having “changed political loyalties”—a conclusion that simply floors me because I never had political loyalties to begin with —they still think of me as an enemy. This is funny because I never aspired to become part of any movement anyway. I have this natural aversion to any form of groupthink.

At any rate, I don’t know where people get this preconceived notion that all columnists are paid hacks or agents of the public relations machinery of government or big business. That notion is so outdated. I am a blogger who got invited to write a column in this paper. I am not a journalist, nor do I have a background in public relations work. I am a banker by profession and an academician by vocation. I do not socialize with politicians.

Which does not mean that I don’t take my role as columnist seriously. I am aware that peddling opinions out there entails certain responsibility. That is why I work hard at maintaining my independence. I guard my privacy. Fiercely.

And finally, there were these two people who wrote in to accuse me of abetting the “conspirators who are out to destabilize the government.” One of them, a person who goes by the handle “Gadfly” (the person can’t even be original, gadfly was Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s handle for a long time; but then again, I could be missing something here) directly accused me of having been “brainwashed by the continuous propaganda of the opposition whose motives are suspicious as they are only out to pander to their own vested interests.”

Gadfly then cited the picket held at Neri’s residence to “pressure the CHED chairperson not to accompany the President to the United States so he can be pressured to incriminate the President at the Senate hearing on Wednesday.” I did see that picket outside Neri’s house on the evening news and noted that the usual civil society groups were there. These people have not made secret their advocacy to oust Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. They have been at it for quite sometime now. What is so surprising about the fact that they are pouncing on the ZTE issue now?

What can I say, myopia is an affliction that is more prevalent than I thought; no political group has a copyright to it.

Let’s not obfuscate the issue. If that ZTE deal did not stink to high heavens, there would have been no bases for conspiracy theories, pickets or Senate hearings.

No comments: