Monday, April 04, 2011

Defiance

This post is antedated. This was my column on the date indicated above.

The Office of the Ombudsman will not sack Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III despite an order from MalacaƱang. Of course there is more to this story than meets the eye; but it all boils down to one and the same thing—people insisting on having their way, fairness and the law be damned.

There are those who insist that the defiance openly displayed by the people in the Office of the Ombudsman is uncalled for because it borders on the disrespect for the highest official of the land who has made no bones about the fact that he wants certain people out of that office. But then again, people in the Office of the Ombudsman have countered with an accusation that rankles: The highest form of bullying from the highest office in the land.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the current imbroglio involving the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman is a proxy war. The real contenders in this bitter feud are supposed to be President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Thus, supporters of beleaguered Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez (who was impeached by an overwhelming majority of our congressmen allegedly upon orders of President Aquino himself) can be justified for their dogged support for the underdog in this whole sordid chain of events. Their reasoning is that they didn’t start this cycle of treating others with disrespect, that in fact they are simply doing so out of self-defense.

Of course the supporters of the President have a different version of events. They insist that the Ombudsman is the main obstacle that stands in their way of instilling decency in government.

The age-old question remains: Do the means justify the end?

Employees of Philippine Airlines who are members of its union, the PAL Employees Association, will also not heed an order from the Department of Labor and Employment for them to maintain the status quo while the case was submitted for compulsory arbitration by the National Labor Relations Commission.

The employees have likened the issue to a David vs Goliath fight, insisting that they have been left with no other choice but to fight back against the injustice and the oppressive acts of PAL and the Aquino administration.

As can be expected, the PAL employees have reduced the issue to a labor-management dispute. In reality, the issue is far more complicated than that. While the employees do come across as victims in the whole issue, it is not PAL management that is necessarily the culprit in the outsourcing phenomenon although it can be argued that nobody forced the outsourcing option on PAL management. The simple truth of the matter is that PAL management chose an option that was viable and legally available in an effort to take itself out of a slump. It was an act of survival. Government validated outsourcing as an option because it could not afford not to – doing otherwise would have been equivalent to killing the sunrise industry of this country, which is the business process outsourcing industry.

The PAL employees are fighting to hold on and maintain employment arrangements that they have been accustomed to, in effect turning down new options that have been made available to them. At the end of the day, this story may have has been made overly complicated by political interests; but at the core of the issue is whether or not outsourcing is a valid business proposition in this country.

Illegal loggers, particularly those in the Sierra Madre area, continued to ravage forests and cut down trees despite Executive Order No. 23 issued by the President February 3 imposing a total log ban across the country. Illegal logging is often romanticized as an act of desperation by poor people who are simply trying to eke out a living, but we all know that the issue is far more complicated that that. At the core of the issue is that illegal logging continues unabated because there continues to exist corrupt government officials and greedy businessmen who exploit tree cutters to front for their nefarious activities.

Willie Revillame has continued to proclaim his innocence and insist that he didn’t do anything wrong— that there was nothing objectionable - when he gleefully and repeatedly encouraged Jan-Jan, a six-year old boy, to gyrate like a burlesque dancer in his show last March 12. A number of agencies and experts have already come forward to denounce Revillame’s latest moral transgression, some going out of their way to explain exactly what was wrong and objectionable about what happened – but Revillame continues to be defiant, insisting on his own twisted interpretation of what happened.

I also wrote in this space last week my own objection to Revillame’s latest caper. I am glad that the Movies and Television Review and Classification Board (I really prefer to refer to them as the board of censors), the Human Rights Commission, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and child psychologists like Dr. Honey Carandang have became involved in the issue.

But I am also flabbergasted at some reactions that are clearly over-the-top and verge on shrilly exaggerations. Someone castigated Manuel Pangilinan, owner of TV5, virtually blaming him for Revillame’s intellectual and moral degeneracy. Someone even went as far as digging information on the boy’s parents, noting the fact that the boy’s father works as owner of a beauty parlor and making irresponsible conclusions in the process.

These kind of exaggerated reactions and incivility are precisely what enable Revillame to continue being endearing to the masa. These shore up Revillame’s image as an underdog; as a misunderstood guy who simply needs direction and guidance rather than being treated like an outcast and a criminal.

Anyway. All these happened towards the end of last week, in barely a few days. But this pattern has been there for quite sometime now.

Of course our bishops and the other people in this country who claims to know God’s private telephone line has been openly engaged in acts similar to the above in the last year or so since the passage of the reproductive health bill has been actively pursued in Congress. Regardless of the many efforts to clarify provisions of the proposed bill, despite the many efforts to arrive at points of agreement on the contentious parts of the bill, despite various efforts to clarify the scientific basis for the bill, they continue to twist and obfuscate facts and the truth.

If the people who are supposed to be the role models in this country in terms of ethical and moral behavior are guilty of the same acts of defiance, then I guess it’s futile to expect others to behave with a little more circumspection.

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