There’s the Rub

Life sucks

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I caught Ben Tulfo in Bitag while surfing TV one morning. He had a few choice words for P-Noy and the aborted vice-president-turned-current Department of the Interior and Local Government chief, Mar Roxas, for their handling of Janet Lim-Napoles. Specifically for the way they hovered over her as she winded her way to Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna. Which, he said, made her look like a privileged prisoner, if not a pampered one.

But Tulfo reserved his scorn for Roxas. What is this guy trying to say, he said, that his mere presence is enough to deter would-be assassins from carrying out their missions? If the point is to prevent an assassination, then put more cops to secure Napoles if indeed the heavy contingent around her isn’t enough already. Hell, put in a battalion of soldiers on top of the cops in front of her, behind her, beside her. But leave it to the law enforcement people to enforce the law, or at least prevent lawless murder. That’s their job, not Roxas’.

Ask Roxas about things that have to do with the DILG, said Tulfo, and either he doesn’t know the answer or he’ll snub you. But ask anything about Napoles and he’ll answer before anybody else can. He knows everything about her, he said. Tulfo had some advice for the DILG head: If that’s how he thinks he’ll win in 2016, he should think again.

I can’t say I blame Tulfo. He’s just echoing a widespread sentiment, one to be found in both mainstream and social media. Indeed, to be found in conversations, face-to-face or cellular: I myself have gotten a number of furious text messages along these lines. True enough the tack of being a constant presence over, some text messages put it, or sticking like a furtive shadow to, Napoles hasn’t done Roxas good, it has done him ill. It has boomeranged and made him look like, well, atat-na-atat about 2016.

Little helped by his referring to Napoles as “Ma’am Janet,” a thing that went viral in YouTube and elsewhere. It’s been called a slip of the tongue or mind, but I myself am not particularly bothered by it. I suspect it’s just a symptom of his lack of kalye, or streetwise-ness, or understanding of how the other half—or other 90 percent—of this country lives. Though it’s no small irony that Mr. Palengke is clueless about palengke, as shown by his lack of appreciation for the cultural resonances of the word “Ma’am.” It’s the other side of the coin of “Ser” (spelled with an “e”), which is a gesture of deferring to someone, however it connotes some degree of familiarity. I suspect Roxas might just have been trying to look authoritative or objective by sounding formal or officious.

Whatever the case, it’s been received badly, bolstering suspicions Napoles is being treated with kid gloves. For crying out loud, expostulate the blogs, the text messages and the tweets, Napoles is a suspect, treat her like one. By all means treat her with fairness, by all means treat her with respect (or at least without derision), but treat her like Al Capone.

What can I say? I sympathize with the sentiment. But what really bothers me is not the impression that Napoles is being treated royally, it is a couple of others things.

The first is the opaqueness, or lack of transparency, in what’s happening with Napoles. To get to her, you first have to get through Roxas which is like going through a brick wall. He has imposed a virtual cordon sanitaire around her. Of course you do have to impose some restraint and secrecy in her processing. You can’t just have any Tom, Dick, or Harry from the media interviewing her at their will or whim. Quite apart from the security issues that raises, there’s the no-small matter of sensationalism it poses. Napoles has become a circus enough as it is. Look at the TV reports of what she had for breakfast, lunch and dinner—no pork, one observed coyly, in an effort to lower blood pressure—and see if she hasn’t already become a reality show unto herself.

You have to impose some kind of restraint and secrecy in her processing, but not this kind of restraint and secrecy, not this scale of restraint and secrecy. All this does is to raise all sorts of fears not about Napoles being coddled, but government’s allies being so. Specifically, members and allies of the Liberal Party which Roxas heads. Certainly it gives rise to speculation about the nature of Napoles’ confession, if one is forthcoming. That can’t just hurt Roxas or his plans for 2016, that can hurt P-Noy and the legacy he means to consolidate over the next three years.

The second has to do with something I’ve been saying over the last few days. That though Napoles is everywhere in this tangled web, she is not at the center of it, she is not the key to it. Or she is not the guiltiest party in the crime. The legislators who were lured into it, if not indeed ardently sought it, are. That’s what the explosion of rage that culminated in the leaderless rally at the Luneta is all about. The people aren’t just incensed at Napoles who stole, they are incensed at the legislators who used their money to light cigars with.

The current fates of Napoles on one hand and the erring senators and congressmen on the other show a stark contrast. While an extravaganza has unfolded over Napoles’ surrender and ferrying to a camp in Laguna, no such thing has happened to the erring senators and congressmen. We’ve heard no corresponding roar or even murmur of dire tidings awaiting them. Yet, like Napoles, they have been identified. Yet, like Napoles, there’s a preponderance of evidence about their guilt. Yet, like Napoles, or far more so, they deserve to be treated like Al Capone.

And yet, unlike Napoles, they look nowhere near to being inconvenienced. Jesus, they’re all lined up to throw stones at her.

Life sucks.

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  • just_and_equitable

    Ignore the Tulfos… they are just bunch of stupid gang of brothers… What happened to the alleged leader of the Misamis gang after press conference with Mar Roxas? The same could have happened to Napoles if Roxas let the police alone transfer her to Sta. Rosa. I believe we did not lose anything when Roxas accompanied Napoles. At least, Roxas has the guts to do his job, even if it means being in the company of the most unpopular figure today…

  • adamson11

    Pinoy are truly have short memory, in 2009 when ampatuans were apprehended they were not first arrested but negotiated by not less than arroyo’s cabinet member then brought to hospital in Davao and visited by generals and politicians – now that you can call a royal treatment to criminal who massacred 58 people in broad day light and stole government coffin in billions!!! The arrest of janet look ok with me, but if they are sending her to st lukes then that is another story…

    • perpetual7

      Kabayan, ayos!

      • mad_as_Hamlet

        * * * * * * *
        I think I was the first who gave adamson11’s post a thumbs-up. I simply liked the plain and candid thoughts in his (or her) post. The “coffin” is okay with me. And, as far as I’m concerned, his message reads like this:

        “A true Filipino has a short memory. In 2009, the Ampatuans were wanted by the police. Instead of being arrested, they negotiated with no less than a cabinet member of GMA who convinced them that they were sick. So they were hospitalized. While in the hospital, generals and politicians brought them flowers and chocolates. Such a royal treatment given to criminals who massacred and buried 58 people without coffins is worth a billion insults to us Filipinos!!! The arrest of Janet is ok with me. But if they send her to St. Luke’s where GMA is, then that is another story . . .”
        – – -

      • perpetual7

        Interpreted very well. Then i’ll share my little thumb’s up and retrieve my comment.

      • mad_as_Hamlet

        * * * * * *
        Thank you. That is most kind of you. May there be many more of your kind in this forum. I’m sure adamson11 will appreciate your gesture.
        – – -

  • ztefertilizerscam10

    Citizens arrest na ang kailangan para sa mga senators na magnanakaw o Vigilante group para itumba na ang mga salot sa bayan…

  • pilipino_ako6

    Expect more bricks to be thrown Roxas’ way by CDQ. I have been noticing this behavior since Roxas ran for Vice-President. Relentless. Personal kaya?

    • satoriseeker

      pwedeng personal din. but i think his agenda is to weaken roxas to prop up the greedy kingpin of makati. tell me, have you read anything negative about binay from CDQ?

  • The_Squiller

    Throwing in the name of Grace Poe in the equation.

    Coming in as a neophyte but with an impressive image and electoral record, she is wisely staying clear of the fray. Either by choice or by dismissal from an aloof media, I really don’t care.

    One may say she topped the last senatorial elections only by sheer association to her father. But that hubris dangerously ignores the multitude of our disenfranchised and marginalized countrymen who are her political base. And that base is exactly what Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay would have to contend with in their presidential bids. Remember, her base is excruciatingly disappointed that her father died with much sorrow after GMA stole the presidency from him.

    If Poe plays her demeanor with extreme grace and fortitude in these upcoming hearings at the Senate and treat this whole investigation as her coming out party, Roxas and Binay will never know what hit them in 2016.

  • Cue_Vas

    Taking care of business….. You don’t yell at my people!

  • Hannibal

    Throw them to dungeons also.

  • hssa96

    I can only say God,when will the Filipino people ever learn? Is it innate to our culture to have a “selective amnesia” ? We only grumble or be angry at a specific point in time but when election comes, the same leaders who made a fool out of us gets elected once again.

  • mark

    Sir si CDQ is on the Abad faction nka pay roll. Binenta ang principyo at paninindigan!! nkaka panghinayang ang talino ni CDQ. .Nkakasuka sya, ngpapangap na makabayan..yun pla ay bayaran. .nkakahiya k!

    • tcbernardo

      Di yata naintindihan ng mamang to ang sinulat ni Mr. De Quiros.

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