Begin from the beginning
If only the sight of it didn’t hurt, I could have died laughing watching on TV Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the airport last November 15—her short neck strangled by a brace; antlers protruding from the sides of her head; not a trace of a makeup on her face; all the work of Vicki Belo, or whoever, lost to gravity and age; her sparse hair matted like a madwoman’s; a drab mantilla usually reserved for the terminally ill thrown over her shoulders; and, for total effect, sitting on a wheelchair, giving the worst performance of her life.
On TV, it was not visible to everyone, but if you believe in ghosts like Justice Secretary Leila de Lima do, you could have seen that Arroyo was actually accompanied by a supporting cast of hundreds of ghost apparitions, all hounding the former unelected president with only one word— justice. It resounded so loudly that Secretary De Lima was shaken from months of stupor and inaction, to do some arm-twisting with a choleric-looking judge to finally—thank God—issue a warrant of arrest.
Because if you had looked close enough, you would have seen with Arroyo at the airport the mangled and mutilated bodies of 58 people, more than 30 of them media workers. You would have recognized the missing Jonas Burgos, still whole, because there was no way we could have seen whether he too was mutilated, burned, made to evaporate by a highly potent chemical or whatever. And the two UP students whose fate is probably known only to Jovito Palparan, Arroyo’s favorite general, second only in her esteem to the late General Angelo Reyes, the one person—not Dinky Soliman—she credits for having made it possible for her to grab the presidency from Joseph Ejercito Estrada, and allowed her to cheat the sure winner, Fernando Poe Jr., in the 2004 presidential election. After which she had to fight for her political survival by securing the undying loyalty of such warlords as Andal Ampatuan Sr., who bragged in a television interview: “Kung ano ang gusto ni Ma’am, ’yun ang masusunod,” never mind if he had to perform some magic, like pulling out of the barrel of a gun the mystical numbers 12-0 that almost deprived Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel his full term of a duly-won Senate seat. But Andal Sr. did perform successfully that sleight-of-hand such that he won Arroyo’s undying affection, which was why his son, the equally powerful ARMM governor Zaldy, confidently went to Ma’am to get her to stop Esmael Mangudadatu from running for governor of their province against his father.
What worries me now is that Secretary De Lima may now have effectively barred Arroyo from successfully implementing one of her standby exit plans (there are six, we are told) to take her as far away as possible (to six possible destinations, we are told) from the ghastly, bloody ghosts of her past, unlamented presidency; but the justice secretary was able to do this only by citing Andal Sr.’s magical numbers, while totally ignoring FPJ who led the ghostly dramatis personae.
Has De Lima, perhaps, forgotten that FPJ was at the airport because Arroyo raped, murdered and mangled the sovereign will in the presidential elections of 2004, which is really where our story begins?
I am also worried that in the round-up of over a hundred alleged perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre, also forgotten is a chapter in this story—that meeting between Arroyo and Zaldy, which, take note, has become Zaldy’s main alibi.
Of particular personal interest to me as a registered voter of my province of Sulu was the presence of a third person—former Sulu representative Monir Arbison, known political rival of Gov. Abdusakur Tan and Arroyo’s fair-haired boy, who ran for governor of Sulu in the last local elections. This bothers me with the thought that if the massacre had not happened in Maguindanao, could it have happened in Sulu?
The first political killing I witnessed happened in 1971, when Maimbung Mayor Hadji Abubakar Tan, father of Governor Tan, was gunned down with .50-caliber guns by government forces riding a tank. A younger brother, with some followers, wanted to avenge his death, but they were similarly killed, all within an hour. I followed the brother’s body to the house of the late mayor, where it was laid beside the mayor’s, and there I saw for the first time what .50-caliber guns can do to the human body—it was a sight I will never forget till the day I die.
Which is why I hate violent incidents. Which was why during the “presidency” of the unelected Arroyo, I feared for the life of Governor Tan, because somebody like Arroyo (who issued checks to all the Sulu gubernatorial candidates of whatever party in the elections of 2004 just to make sure all of them would campaign for her) could not care less as to who killed who to ensure her own hold on power.
So what really was the dialogue in that meeting between Gloria and Zaldy? Surely Gloria will not tell (when has she told the truth, anyway?); and Zaldy’s lips have been forever sealed by a backhoe.
But there was a fourth person in that meeting, although he has been similarly conspicuously missing in this sordid story: Gilbert Teodoro.
Gibo, isn’t it about time you told us your story too?
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