What are we waiting for?
I’ve been asked the question many times in the last two weeks. The answer I give depends on the manner and tone the question is asked. There are those who pose the question with the sincere intent of broadening up their perspective and finding out what other people are thinking and where others stand in this whole stinking sordid mess.
There are those who ask the question with a tad more emotion, as if pleading with you to please see, hear, taste, smell the filth and stench that he or she thinks you have failed to perceive. Sometimes these people ask the question in a rhetorical way, not really expecting an answer, but more as a preface to a lecture.
Then there are those that ask the question in an brusque, sometimes even accusatory way, leaving no doubt whatsoever about the level of condescension that they feel for other people who are not with them, yet, or who haven’t joined their call. They ask because they seem to derive some pleasure from pointing out just how morally depraved others (you!) have become; their faces suffused with the glow of the morally superior.
And then there are those who don’t even bother to ask the question at all. They just presume the worst about you and automatically put you in the same category along with everyone else whom they have conveniently labeled “The Enemy” or in conspiracy with, to use the current catch phrase, “The Evil.” These are people who have made up their minds a long, long time ago and there’s nothing —absolutely nothing—that you can say or write that would make them change their minds about what kind of person you are simply because they think you are not on their side.
I can understand the frustration, particularly on the part of those who have been working so hard to bring closure to the many scandals that have bedeviled this administration since 2004. I’ve said this many, many times, and I will say it again: I agree—these are grievous, serious issues that should be pursued. This administration should be made accountable for these. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should be made to answer for these.
So here we are, once again: A country united in our dislike, even hatred, for this administration; a people united in calling for an end to the profligacy of the people who are currently prowling the corridors of power and hold the country in the claws of greed.
But we are a people who can’t get our acts together in actually doing what seems the natural thing to do given the circumstances: Kicking this administration out. The reasons are painfully obvious.
We have major reservations about doing it because we don’t want a repeat of what happened before (the Marcoses and Estradas are back in power and continue to mock us everyday). We can’t agree on how it should be done. But really more because we have grown distrustful of the motivations behind the action, particularly on the part of those who clearly stand to benefit from it. We want more than emotions to get the better of us this time around.
We want change, but we know that the alternatives hardly represent deliverance at all. Sadly for us, we don’t have a Barack Obama who can personify whatever the change we want to see. We only have a long list of the same dirty rotten scoundrels who have cloaked themselves with the armor of the morally upright but whom we know to be made of the same stuff deep inside.
The other problem is the seeming duplicity in the processes that have been engendered so far in kicking Gloria Macapagal Arroyo out of office.
It has been pretty much evident from the very start that for many people, the only closure they wanted—the barest minimum that they had been willing to settle for—is no less than the removal of the President from office. I don’t think that there is something inherently wrong with this objective; everyone has the right to call for the President’s resignation. I do not begrudge them this advocacy. God knows how many times this administration —this President particularly—has been given reprieve by the people. If people want to call for her resignation, by all means they should be allowed to do so.
But there is something to be said about going through the motions of submitting the whole case to democratic and legal processes while at the same time demanding the President’s resignation pronto and proclaiming her guilt of the very things that they claim to be investigating in the first place.
What is the point of going through the motions of conducting Senate hearings, filing cases, launching campaigns purportedly to allow the truth to come out, when the whole thing is already prejudged and a specific outcome is already demanded? It not only makes a mockery of the whole process. It smacks of extreme hypocrisy.
For example, Jun Lozada had barely opened his mouth at the Senate hearings when a number of senators, among them Senators Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, and Alan Peter Cayetano, already strutted around demanding the President’s resignation claiming that what Lozada had to say would be enough to incriminate her. Well, we already know that Lozada did spew quite a mouthful, but did not directly implicate the President, despite the needling and wheedling of the senators and the bumbling efforts of the administration’s lackeys to cover up their ineptitude.
So what are we waiting for? The question presupposes that people are simply lying around and waiting for the much hoped-for tipping point when the outrage and the indignation boil over. I can be wrong, but my hunch is that there will be no tipping point unless there is change in the way the process is being conducted and among the leaders championing the change.
I think that people are already resigned and numbed to the level of greed and corruption that is happening particularly since the prevailing belief is that everyone is guilty of it—yes, including senators and sour-graping politicians. I think that the tipping point, if any, will come from outrage not over the issues, but over the repeated and preposterous attempts to cover up the stink. I think that what makes many people empathize with Jun Lozada, even despite his rather showbiz demeanor, is precisely the way this administration “mishandled” him.
People want closure. That is a given. The issue is: How is this closure going to be attained? My gut feel is that the most plausible source of outrage will come only from pontificating from a higher moral ground. This means ensuring that the process is free from the usual grandstanding and partisan nature that has attended it so far.
We can begin by allowing the whole process to proceed with as much dignity and sobriety that we can muster. It is time for the media to stop treating the whole spectacle as a freak show. The circus and the caterwauling have to go. No more screaming and name-calling and pompous grandstanding, such as the pathetic attempts by Senator Madrigal to question Secretary Romulo’s Neri’s sexual preference.
For example, I would love to have all our senators to shut off during Senate hearings and instead allow someone, say an impartial and independent trial lawyer, to ask all the questions. This would not only produce better and more credible information, it also saves them the embarrassment that comes with people finding out just how inept they are.
We want closure. But most of us want the kind of closure that enables us to say we did it the right way; the kind of closure that’s fair, legal, and right; the kind that that really make us proud of ourselves. Many among us don’t want a repeat of Edsa Dos—look where Erap is now. It is possible that the wily machinations of some people might thwart our efforts, but at the end of the day, we can still spit on their faces and assume moral superiority over them. Then and only then can we derive satisfaction and mean it when we say that we are better than they are.