Joke | Inquirer Opinion
There’s The Rub


/ 11:02 PM January 09, 2012

The Joker goes wild.

I was vastly amused by Joker Arroyo’s letter the other day. I have been called many names, including gwapo, but Marcos collaborator is a new one. Throughout the struggle against martial law, he said, I was not just a mere spectator but a zealous advocate of the dictatorship. I remained so, he said, even after that dictatorship fell and Cory’s government arose. “He was not for Ninoy, he was for Marcos. He called Cory ‘Queen of Darkness,’ and pummeled her during the Hacienda Luisita massacre… But when everyone he hated had died (Ninoy, then Cory), he saw an opening through which he might obscurely pass into the favor of their son who had launched his unstoppable candidacy. ”


And I thought Joker was a lawyer. Lawyers at least get their facts right, even if they give them the weirdest interpretations. The scale of his blindness to one humongous force in national life during martial law and (immediately) after is breathtaking. That force was variously called the Left, the Movement, the Reds. In his cosmology, there were only two sides: Ninoy-Cory and Marcos. If you criticized the one, you must be for the other. That’s idiotic.

I have been writing columns since 1986. Surely Joker must be able to regale the world with one piece (or paragraph, or sentence) I have written that defends in any shape, form, or size, and in any manner, subtly, blatantly, laughably, Marcos and his cohorts?


As to what I did during martial law, I might as well set the record straight since Joker’s accusations crop up now and then in dubious blogs and trashy publications citing those blogs. I worked for the Left Underground throughout martial law. In the course of that I was assigned to join one government information office and another. What exactly I was asked to do, or indeed what I did generally for the movement, I will not go into lest I add to my dossier with the military. I know of that because I wasn’t allowed to leave the country until 1979 (you needed a military clearance to do so then) on the ground that there was “derogatory information” about me. I got to leave only after Joe Almonte, then head of the Philippine Center for Advanced Studies, endorsed my trip to an Afro-Asian literary conference in Moscow and Angola.

People who materialized only at the tail-end of martial law, when fighting Marcos had gotten popular, shouldn’t really be crowing about their exploits. People who never risked life and limb, and those of their families, from the beginning of martial law, in the pit of martial law, shouldn’t really be thumping their chests. What nerve. It insults the legions who died or disappeared then, with only their kasamas to mourn their passing and keep their memories alive, but whose struggle kept the flames of freedom burning, enough for them to burst into a raging fire when Ninoy himself was killed.

I did say at Cory’s necrological rites—to which I, the Cory-hater, was invited to speak and Joker, the Cory-lover, was not—that I did not come from the ranks of the Yellows, I came from the ranks of the Reds. For that I remain eminently proud.

As to my currying favor with P-Noy after he “launched his unstoppable candidacy,” surely he must have read—or heard about, since reading the Inquirer is not his favorite pastime—my column “Noynoy for president” long before everyone picked up the cry? And long before Mar Roxas bowed to the inevitable?

No, Joker, it is not a question of “being eloquent before the dumb.” The people are not dumb, which is your conceited mistake and mistaken conceit, trying hard as you are to exclude them from Renato Corona’s impeachment in the name of objectivity. It is a question of being credible, which you get only from being consistent. That is what makes for real power, not being a columnist, or indeed senator. Those are mere trappings of power.

The only thing you have been consistent about after Edsa 2—to which you do owe your position today, although you have chosen only to owe Gloria, who was its unworthy spawn—is finding nothing wrong with her. You found everything wrong with FPJ (“there is a constitutional remedy for corruption but none for stupidity”), you found everything wrong with Jun Lozada who exposed the NBN, you found everything wrong with the people who wanted to end the despotism of the one person who most resembled the tyrant you once helped to depose. But you found nothing wrong with Gloria.

And now you find everything wrong with P-Noy. And still you find nothing wrong with Gloria.


“What is wrong with cautioning senators . . . from being unduly influenced by outside commentary?” Because it leaves the field to you and senators like you, who are as objective about Gloria (and Corona) as Bongbong Marcos is about his father. Because it confines appraisal and judgment solely to you and senators like you, who, like Gloria’s justices themselves, or indeed like Marcos himself, love citing law while slicing people’s throats. Because it rests the future of this country on you and senators like you, who see Gloria as the best thing to have happened to democracy, the way George Bush did Marcos, and P-Noy, who has shown himself admirably, inspiringly, objectively determined to right wrongs, as the worst threat to it.

That is all you have been consistent about. Otherwise, you have been consistent only in the same way Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago have been consistent about their loyalties. Which is a pity really: You rose so high in our esteem by fighting Marcos only to fall so low by championing his clone. One would think that as one grows older, one gets wiser, but it was, and is, Gloria’s enormous talent to have refuted that thought.

Maverick? You’re a maverick only to the principles you once held. Which has turned you now into:

A joke.

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