‘Bakakon’ campaign in progress
A forum organized by the University of San Carlos in Cebu on March 19 had an interesting sidelight. During a talk at the “Klarohay ta!” (Let’s Talk Clearly) program, a student spoke up denouncing Kilusang Bagong Lipunan senatorial candidate Larry Gadon. Cebu’s SunStar reported that the student (whom it did not identify) yelled “Liar” when Gadon was bloviating that there had been no corruption during the dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ regime. The paper didn’t say if the student spoke in English or cried “Bakakon!” in Cebuano while Gadon extolled the late dictator’s infrastructure projects, comparing them to Corazon Aquino’s which he said “could not be seen.”
Gadon was visibly upset and threatened to walk out if the student was not taken outside, it was reported. A university official expressed shock over what she perceived as rudeness; other candidates at the forum said the student should just be given a warning.
That reminds of an incident back in 1977 when another courageous student dared to confront a person in power. That was when 21-year-old student Archimedes Trajano of the Mapua Institute of Technology attended a forum Imee Marcos was addressing. She’d been appointed by her father as national chair of the Kabataang Barangay, the youth organization which many described as the Pinoy version of Hitler’s youth movement during World War II.
Trajano had stepped up to question Imee about her appointment, something that threw her off balance and, according to a news report, “irritated her.” Needing no prompting, Imee’s guards seized Trajano and dragged him out of the venue. Hours later, his body was found “severely tortured and beaten to death.”
After the Marcoses fled from Malacañang and were granted exile in the United States, Trajano’s mother Agapita pressed charges against Imee Marcos and her accomplices for her son’s “kidnapping, wrongful death and deprivation of rights.”
Imee’s lawyers in Hawaii argued that, as “agents of the state,” her bodyguards who killed Trajano were “immune from a suit in a foreign state.” But the Honolulu district court awarded Agapita Trajano $1.25 million for mental anguish, $2.5 million in punitive damages, and $246,966 in attorney’s fees and costs against Imee Marcos.
Will a scenario like that suffered by Archimedes Trajano be possible soon? If the administration’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago party grabs nine out of 12 seats in May, they’ll have a supermajority in the Senate. Salvador Medialdea will be shoved aside, with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo becoming prime minister who’ll be signing edicts “By the Authority of the President.”
The senators will be able to legislate whatever the President wants done, including amending the 1987 Constitution by changing the presidential form of government to a federal one. The shift, overseen by pliant senators like Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, etc., will be in place to do the President’s bidding, like certifying that Sara Duterte will be president in 2022.
A pivot away from the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States will follow, ratifying a new defense treaty with China, valid for 99 years. That will allow Beijing to exploit resources in the South China Sea (forget the euphemism “West Philippine Sea”) so Filipinos will be able “to live in peace and harmony.” China’s access to the Benham Rise holdings will follow, with Manila reasoning that the Philippines “does not have the resources and know-how” to develop it, making the issue of sovereignty totally irrelevant.
As sure as night follows day, journalists criticizing the government will be arrested, as happened to Rappler’s Maria Ressa; columnists will be forced out, as was Francisco Tatad whom the President described as sexually impotent. Other truth-tellers will be put on notice that the administration will brook no dissent.
The Cebuano student who tagged an administration candidate as bakakon may be the final voice of the youth in a province of 3,082,621 voters, second only to the numbers in Manila. A news photo recently showed the President’s daughter raising the arm of Rep. Gwen Garcia (indicted not long ago by the ombudsman), who jubilantly cried, “I’m so lucky to have been chosen by Sara.” For his part, Edgar Labella, touting his candidacy for Cebu City mayor, said, “It will greatly help, considering that no less than the father and the daughter expressed support to (sic) us.”
So the campaign rolls on, spearheaded by the woman who declared “all politicians are bakakon,” making honesty a nonissue.
Free expression sputters with campaign posters for Mayor Tomas Osmeña proliferating, despite the fact that the President last year, aware of his nonsupport, issued a personal insult by poking fun at the urinary bag Osmeña uses as a cancer survivor. That low blow, as an observer said, is normal, coming from a low-life leader.
In this season when administration candidates like Gadon gear up for the May elections by pronouncing blatant falsehoods, it was refreshing to have that Cebuano student call him out for the bakakon he is.
Isabel Escoda has been writing for the Inquirer since the 1980s.
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