Now it can be told. Ghosts are indeed true.
They are said to get hired to work in government, including, as reported not so long ago, in those supposedly graft-free model cities like Davao City. In the nation’s capital of Manila, entire barangays of ghosts supposedly terrorized the city during the past administration. In Ilocos, there was the case of the mysterious ghost procurements that, when reported to the President, left Mr. Duterte in a cursing frenzy—not against the alleged perpetrator, but against the Commission on Audit.
But if one wants to be updated on this chronology of ghost stories, the secret double lives of some people in government, including its highest police officials charged with coddling drug-dealing law enforcers, is yet another mystery—one that may again defy explanation, let alone accountability. Like all the other previous incidents, this, too, is about to be forgotten, if it hasn’t become stale news already, ever since the crazy civil war—rather the war against civility—among the Barretto sisters became the only news worthy of national attention.
The ghosts of the past have become cliché, because the present and the future are teeming as well with as many ghost stories to scare the living daylights out of the Filipino people.
Ghosts are behind the revisionist tack that present history has taken, one that allows those who have done nothing when they were in power to suddenly become the self-righteous know-it-alls of the present day, even having the audacity to pontificate about their version of the truth and expecting people to believe them.
Noli de Castro should be the last person on earth to lecture on truth and integrity, yet he just told Vice President Leni Robredo to resign for allegedly being unworthy of her position. Filipinos should be forgiven for failing to remember that Kabayan was once the vice president of this country because, let’s face it, there was nothing he did in that lofty post that is worth remembering. Sure, there were those ribbon-cutting ceremonies that kept him busy, and of course there was that ghost of a graft-ridden housing program under his office, but that’s about it.
In fact, Kabayan himself, along with Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta who used to cry on national television at the height of the Dengvaxia controversy, has a lot to answer to the people for, after opening the proverbial Pandora’s box and bringing back to life the polio virus, and who knows what other birth-related defects and diseases that have been reincarnated because of the fear of vaccination the dramatic tandem of Noli and Persida instilled in the masses.
Ghosts feed on our fear of the unknown to take away our courage, making us powerless in the face of the incomprehensible, until we no longer know how it feels to be brave. Where before we used to stand our ground and refused to be frightened, now there is an overwhelming sense of trepidation when confronted with the things that we fear, an acceptance that nothing else can be done.
Fear has beaten the courage out of all of us. And we should all plead guilty to complicity in this national embarrassment, in the act of showing the whole world that there is nothing wrong with betraying ourselves—that a sell-out is the only way out, that we have nothing to lose if we simply accept that political dissenters in this country deserve to rot in jail, that a five-hour traffic jam is just normal, that broken promises to protect the national sovereignty from foreign incursions are excusable, that the death of tens of thousands in the drug war should be charged to experience so we could all move on, and yes, that in order to survive the vicissitudes of life, we must ignore the fundamental truth that we deserve to live our lives with dignity.
Ghosts have taken over this country, and it might take nothing less than a revolution to exorcise them.
Adel Abillar is a private law practitioner with a small office in Quezon City where, he says, “I alternate between being boss and messenger.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.