Monday, January 05, 2009

Is this guy for real?

This is my column today.

I didn’t write about that infamous display of arrogance and brute power at a golf course that happened during the Christmas break because I have this thing against kicking a man when he is down. Fellow bloggers have already riled about it anyway and mainstream media have already picked it up. Jojo Robles has written about the incident in his column in this paper as well.

But a news story published in the Inquirer last Saturday raised my hackles. In that story, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman appealed to the public, specifically to bloggers, to stop vilifying his family. The news report quoted the secretary as saying “We’re being condemned left and right. It’s very painful for us. We’re very much affected by this.” He expressed hope that the criticism directed at him and his family would stop because the appropriate authorities are supposedly investigating already. “They should be sensitive to the feelings of others. The past few days have been very painful for us” he whined. And then he had the gall to actually say that he wished bloggers won’t experience what he and has family are going through.

The whole thing is painful for them? They want people to be sensitive to their feelings? He actually thinks that bloggers are being unfair to them?

Either the man is hopelessly naïve, in which case, he has no business being in politics, or he is a total dimwit, in which case he should just shut up. Is this guy for real?

His sons and their bodyguards assaulted a 56-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy, for crying out loud. Mauled them to a pulp, some quarters reported. While armed to the gills.

This cannot and has not been disputed: The Pangandamans had the upper hand in that ugly incident. Coercive power was heavily stacked in their favor and unfortunately, they succumbed to one of the most hackneyed clichés ever: Coercive power is the last dirty word. Picture this in your mind: On one side, there were the two Pangandaman brothers and at least four bodyguards; on the other side, a 56-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy. And oh, Bambee de la Paz, a woman. And if this is not enough, consider the infamous public declaration of extreme political arrogance of one of the Pangandaman sons: Hindi n’yo ba kami kilala? (Don’t you know who we are?)

Anyone who cannot see why public empathy is on the side of the De la Paz family needs to have his or her heart examined.

The question of who instigated the fight or who was more arrogant on the golf course or at the club house is important, but not relevant anymore. I am not saying arrogance and provocation are not germane to the whole discussion; what I’m saying is that first, these things are subjective and typically denigrate into a battle of credibility. Second, I don’t think there’s a kind of provocation that deserves that kind of brutal assault. Particularly since the Pangandamans are in politics and are supposedly public servants, people who mouth slogans about how public service is a public trust. Their father also happens to be a Cabinet secretary, which, in case they have forgotten, is required to measure up to an even more stringent standard of public behavior as an alter ego of the highest official of the land.

But rather than bow their heads in shame, keep their mouths shut, and at least go through the motions of projecting remorse in the midst of the expected public outrage, the Pangandamans were initially defiant. They first projected themselves as the victims in the whole sordid affair. And then, when it became apparent that there was no frigging way anyone in his right mind would buy that story, they turned to buttressing their defense by obfuscating facts. One such squid tactic being done is to provide a racial spin to the incident and turn it into a Muslim-versus-Christian thing. Another has been the attempt to paint the Pangandamans as the epitome of virtues.

Pangandaman was reported to have said that he had asked his family not to respond to the criticisms and the angry blogs. But in the same breath, he maintained that his family is still studying the possibility of filing countercharges against the De la Paz family. This is the kind of conflicting, even hypocritical, message that is not earning them any brownie point at all. What kind of a person issues a public apology and in the same breath washes his hands in public of any accountability and, worse, hints at getting back at the complainants?

Perhaps the honorable Cabinet secretary is not aware of what’s happening around him just as he was reported to have been oblivious to the mauling incident which happened in his presence. Contrary to what he wants us to believe, his family, or at least their supporters, is not exactly sitting out the attacks in the blogosphere like, well, sitting ducks. They, or at least their supporters, are also out there in the blogosphere deftly countering, disputing, deflecting, and obfuscating the issues. Oh please, it is quite obvious that there is orchestrated campaign in the blogosphere against the De la Paz family as well.

If Pangandaman wants absolution from the people, there is a simpler way to get it: Through sincerity and contriteness. It wouldn’t have hurt if we read about the secretary chastising his sons or their bodyguards in public as well. He should also stop whining about how the whole thing is unfair to him or his family.

Like I said, there is no chance that people will see them as the victims in this whole imbroglio. He may or may not be directly and personally guilty of it, but unfortunately for him, there’s just too much unwarranted political arrogance happening today in this country. And what his sons and their bodyguards did to the 56-year-old man and 14-year-old boy was exactly the kind of political arrogance that deserves public outrage.

10 comments:

chiefermontego said...

Let us be fair on this issue, It is wise to hear their side too. We must not be swayed by a single blog. I know we are capable of being fair.

I'm a fan of yours and still is.

Jintu

Pedestrian Observer GB said...

The counter suit is a lagay errr "legal maneuver" so that the De la Paz father & son will drop the case against them..... or if they are not thinking which is most likely the case since they are incapable of doing so will exert their power and hold over GMA to victimize the victims further by finding the victim guilty....... remember Lana was part of the taped Garci conversation where the need 1 million additional votes will come.

Antonio Pe Yang III said...

MAYBE if Pangandaman hadn't been such a douchebag, then he wouldn't be drawing so much flak eh?

He's just not used to the fact that unlike the people in the Arroyo admin - who apparently love kissing ass to each other - we bloggers and netfolk do not give a f**k about who he is.

He should be thankful - in light of the CARP fiasco, the flaming he's getting is chickenfeed compared to the real suffering the farmers in the provinces are experiencing.

I'm not even going to begin stating how wrong it sounds for him to be at a posh country club as our countrymen - who stand to be directly affected by his office's incompetence and graft - are condemned to starve this new year.

Welcome to the real world Pangandaman - if you don't want the attention, then don't do anything stupid!

*Twin-Skies here. I figured it's about time I started using my real name to give more weight to my voice. Happy new year Bong!

Antonio Pe Yang III said...

Sorry if this comes as somewhat OT, but I thought you'd want to check out this recently concluded survey regarding abstinence-only policies. The short version: It doesn't work.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/28/AR2008122801588.html?hpid=moreheadlines

It's something conservatives will want to think about the next time they try to push their "abstinence only" policy for birth control.

Bong C. Austero said...

Jintu:

This is their side of the issue:

1. they were provoked;

2. the dela pazes were arrogant too, at one point the older dela paz poked one of the pangandaman sons with an umbrella;

3. they had the right to overtake the dela pazes at the golf course because they belonged to the same party that was ahead of the dela pazes.

They did not dispute these:

1. that they mauled the dela paz father and son

2. that they had bodyguards with heavy firearms

3. thay they had the upper hand in the whole fiasco.

I still maintain that there is no provocation that merits a brutal assault. I still believe that cabinet secretaries and their children should be accountable to a higher standard of public behavior.

Thanks for dropping by and for your comment. I think we can all agree to disagree.

Bong

Bong C. Austero said...

Pedestrian observer:

How the Pangandamans can claim that they were victims of physical assault is ludicrous. They were the ones with bodyguards who were armed to the gills. The dela Paz father and son were defenseless. The brother that arrived at the club house was carrying a baseball bat and the mom was carrying a knife - both were not allowed entry into the club.

Bong

Bong C. Austero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bong C. Austero said...

Hi Antonio!

Finally, we are on first name basis. hahaha.

You are right of course. While there shouldnt be a law against cabinet secretaries enjoying themselves at a golf course, the timing sucked big time. Farmers were on a hunger strike in Negros over the agrarian reform fiasco while Pangandaman relaxed at a golf course. Being involved in a scandal where one's family openly flaunted political power made even more appalling.

Bong

Bong C. Austero said...

Antonio:
I'll check the link. Thanks

bong

chiefermontego said...

Hi Bong,

Thanks for your reply and more power para di low-bat..hehe

God bless,

Jintu