Friday, December 05, 2008

A bad idea

This was my column last Wednesday, December 3.

Forgive me for being irreverent; the pronouncements of old men, particularly if they are wearing a miter, should be taken more seriously.

But how are we supposed to react to the repeated calls being made by bishops Deogracias Yñiquez of Caloocan and Antonio Tobias of Novaliches for us to follow the Bangkok example as a sign of protest over the very hasty way the impeachment complaint against the President of the Republic was junked by the House of Representatives and over the alleged moves of the President’s allies to install her as President-for-life?

Okay. I agree that the two bishops and the rest of civil society members have valid gripes. The tyranny of numbers killed the impeachment complaint yet again. But then again, that was a foregone conclusion, wasn’t it? The petitioners couldn’t even get many members of the opposition to signify support for the complaint. We’re not talking administration allies yet, just members of the opposition—you know, the people they are supposed to be in bed with, to begin with.

It must rankle to realize that being right is not enough to sway people into taking your side; something that those pushing the reproductive health bill only know too well.

But they do have a point when they insist that they should have been allowed to at least present their case. Again, I am not really sure that would have accomplished anything in terms of getting more signatures or more support for the complaint. It’s a house filled with the President’s allies and lackeys. I am also certain that they would not have presented anything new, or at least nothing that they haven’t gone to town with already in various pronouncements, leaflets, statements, etc.

And certainly nothing that the People of the Republic of the Philippines don’t already know by now—how else can one explain the abysmal ratings of the President? We all want her to go and we’re all waiting for 2010 when we can finally say good riddance with feelings—and yes, whether she and her lackeys like it or not.

Given the fact that the death of the impeachment complaint was already an absolute certainty—someone described the situation in macabre ways, saying that it was already dead when it reached Congress and that it was a cadaver that they were presiding over—couldn’t they have been a little more giving? Couldn’t they have shown more respect for the dead? But then again, civility has long been dead and gone in this country.

But to go back to my earlier point, if we are to go by the exhortations of the two bishops, we should storm our airports and bring air travel in and out of Manila to a complete halt.
Let’s assume that there are more than enough people in this country who are willing at this point—when Christmas is in the air and there seems to be a hundred more important things to worry about— to take up the cause. The first decision that needs to be made is: Which airport? There are four terminals in Metro Manila—fifth if we include Nichols Airbase. I guess that’s something that the bishops and the people who have been expressing admiration for the way the Thais have beaten us in a game we invented and perfected, have not considered.

Seriously, though, I wish these people would engage their minds before they open their mouths. I have nothing against mounting protests against this administration. There’s just too many things that are objectionable about the way Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her minions flaunt power.

But should we follow the Thailand example and shut down our airports a few weeks before Christmas? That’s the easiest way for the bishops and civil society members to completely alienate themselves from the general population.

Let’s not anymore go into how something like that would definitely give the country’s image abroad a black eye— the world is used to our predilection to shoot ourselves in the foot. Tolentino, Honasan, Trillanes, et al. have done it many times in the past by commandeering major buildings and five-star hotels in commercial districts. Among others.

We do have thousands of Filipino overseas workers who begin streaming back into the country around this time of the year in time for the holiday season. Closing down airports in Metro Manila would effectively leave them stranded in airports all over the world. That would mean hundreds of thousands hungry and angry kith and kin all over the country.

Of course we could always re-route planes to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Pampanga, assuming that that airport has the capacity to take in a hundred international flights a day.

But consider that we had less than a thousand Filipinos stranded in Bangkok over the last few days and yet it seemed everyone was already in uproar. Of course when people learned that Senator Ja-ja-ja-jamby Madrigal was among those stranded in Bangkok and without a way back into the country, a number of people I knew wanted to celebrate and started praying that the standoff in Thailand would last forever so she did not have to come back to the country. But that’s really another column.

The Philippine government and our local airlines had to put together a rescue plan to ensure their safe return to the country. Imagine a situation where tens of thousands of Filipinos are stranded in various airports all over the world because our airports have been commandeered by the Filipino people themselves! I’m sure there will be protests against the protesters.
Anyway. A friend of mine was among those stranded in Bangkok for a number of days and despite the inconvenience, he had great things to say about the way the Thailand Tourism Authority people handled the situation. He said that the Thais really knew how to take care of their guests. I wish we could be as tourist-friendly as the Thai people and the Thai government.

2 comments:

Twin-Skies said...

Yes, it's a brilliant idea. Nothing like telling the Gov't how much we hate them by halting the operations of our airports, thereby endangering the lives and livelihoods of our fellow countrymen and traveller who have absolutely nothing to do with our issues!

What a message to send our OFWs!

Seriously, their statements are no worse than the Muslim clerics who pushed their communities to commit acts of violence in retaliation to that Danish cartoon.

Sad to say a lot of our Catholic leaders - much like the politicians they hate - are complete idiots.

Bong C. Austero said...

Exactly! "Nothing like telling the Gov't how much we hate them by halting the operations of our airports, thereby endangering the lives and livelihoods of our fellow countrymen" I wished I wrote that.

Bong