Reposted from Arianne’s blog
MANILA, Philippines — We’ve heard that President Macapagal-Arroyo and her family like to feast on cocido on Sundays. They like to think of their family as one of the last bastions of Castilian heritage, exponents of old-world urbanidad.
But theirs is a superficial urbanity. For all their Old Society pretensions, they are proving themselves irredeemably politically uncouth and old-fashioned. The so-called First Family is first, indeed: first in immodesty, first in political dynasty and first in its contempt for their countrymen, a feeling returned in equal and perhaps even greater measure by the public.
They run the government as if the country is their hacienda, with all the stereotypical impunity, brashness and brutality of the hacenderos of film, novel and stage. They are not paragons of finesse and good breeding. They act in a feudal manner, while remaining uncomprehending about what upholding it in political life actually entails.
Sociologist Randy David said it best, yesterday: “The old values that used to mitigate the oppressiveness of feudal power—self-restraint, the value of friendship, loyalty, word of honor, etc.—are fading away. What is replacing the grip of Old World politics, however, is not the ethical professionalism of modern politics but the sheer rapaciousness of the parvenus of present-day Philippine politics.”
And as the First Family is, so are its henchmen. Sergio Apostol, to name just one noxious example, earned his keep as chief presidential legal counsel by acting macho—calling Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. a “crying lady”—and then slandering everyone of Chinese extraction. “They say he’s a Chinese from the province. Bagay sa iyo i-deport ka. Magulo ka dito (You should be deported because you’re troublesome),” Apostol said. He surely pleased his presidential patron; he surely outraged the rest of society.
The problem with the First Family is that even as it twiddles its silver cutlery while grousing about the servants, those who serve it are reaching the point where servility is giving way to resentment. Guns, goons and gold have three profound limitations: guns can be seized from those who wield them; goons do not, and cannot, by their very nature, think; and gold will bedazzle some for a time but will never be capable of subduing everyone, or always.
Which is why, last Friday, as a week of administration bungling brought forth a new star witness in the controversial NBN-ZTE deal, administration senators made themselves scarce. Among those pleading the political equivalent of diplomatic illness was Sen. Joker Arroyo, who once upon a time thundered, “We cannot have a nation run by a thief”—and who probably did not want to be reminded of what he said in the face of testimony pointing to even grander larceny.
Instead, the only ones who dared to stand by the administration were Juan Ponce Enrile, whose wife wants to be ambassador to the Vatican, and whose former law partner connived to have Lozada sign a false affidavit; and Miriam Defensor-Santiago whose husband is a Malacañang official, whose brother is currently an ambassador-at-large, who has two cousins sitting as administration allies in the mercenary House of Representatives, and whose nephew, Michael Defensor, acts as secret liaison officer with Catholic prelates, and who tried to organize a press conference of lies until it was foiled in the early morning hours of Wednesday.
And so, as one senator put it on Friday, we have a government that undertakes kidnapping, coercion, violations of the anti-wiretapping law, obstruction of justice and engages in conspiracy to hinder the work of the legislature in full public view. One that takes its cue from the First Family that behaves as if the rule of law is what it says it is. Not to mention all the previous catalogues of sins of commission and omission that range from perverting the law to liquidating opponents, from electoral fraud to plundering the state.
And which has the gall to keep demanding of us, the people, “Where is your evidence?” To which we say, look around—look at yourselves. You are the evidence, all of you.