A plague on both your houses | Inquirer Opinion
There’s The Rub

A plague on both your houses

The Liberal Party must be desperate, says Erap Estrada. Proof of it is that it’s trying to pirate some UNA members. “That only shows they cannot complete their lineup.”

Erap cites Loren Legarda and Gringo Honasan whom the LP is apparently trying to woo into its ranks. Manny Villar should offer a cautionary tale on that tack, Erap suggests. “He pirated. But he lost just the same.” In any case, he seriously doubts Legarda and Honasan will bolt UNA. Legarda promised him she “would not climb the stage of another party” and Honasan will be loyal to Juan Ponce Enrile, a stalwart of UNA, “no matter what.”

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Well, if it’s true, the LP should be faulted not for piracy but for bad taste. If you’re going to sacrifice your kingdom to steal someone, you might as well go for Helen of Troy, not for ladies of the night. How cheap can you get?

Climbing the stage of another party is the least of the things Legarda is wont to climb. She was only too eager to climb to No. 1 in the ranks of UNA’s “senatoriables” after Koko Pimentel bolted the coalition, forgetting what Pimentel bolted the coalition for. Which is but the latest episode in a career marked by political flightiness. Honasan, well, till the day he died, FPJ never knew whose side he was on. In fact, till the day he died—of a broken heart—FPJ rued having rested his fate on friends rather than enemies. Real enemies you knew, false friends you did not.

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But the problem is not so much the chosen as it is the chooser. The LP is currently in the process of coalescing with the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition. Edwin Lacierda defends the LP’s marriage with the NP in particular, its enemy in the last election, in this wise: “Campaigning is campaigning. There were words exchanged then but we move on for the sake of the country. They (the LP and NP) recognize what’s important for the country … and so they will rise above political differences and see what’s good for all of us.”

As to Villar being the subject of a corruption investigation—Enrile accused him of raising P5 billion for his campaign by diverting the C5 to run through his real estate—Lacierda says the Senate never found Villar guilty of it. In any case, he says, the NP is not just Villar, it is also people like Alan Peter Cayetano “who stood for good governance.”

What a horrendous defense, showing only how P-Noy’s presumptive party is no better than UNA. Showing only how P-Noy’s presumptive party is not part of the cure, it is part of the disease. Indeed, showing only how the matuwid na daan rests in the hands of road builders who cannot distinguish a straight line from a detour made in C5.

In other countries, true enough the head of the party is not the party. Mitt Romney is not the Republican Party, Barack Obama is not the Democratic Party. But this is the Philippines. Manny Villar is the NP, Danding Cojuangco is the NPC. That is the perverse reality of parties in this country. They are not bigger than the people who head them, the people who head them are bigger than them. The head disappears, the body dies. Or they exist like zombies, simulating the movements of living beings while dead. The LP was so until P-Noy emerged from the smoke and breathed life into it.

Villar is the NP, and Cojuangco is the NPC, and both have figured in corruption scandals. Of course the Senate never carried the resolution to pin Villar down for making baluktot the daan in C5, but neither did the entire Congress pin Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo down for even more breathtakingly making baluktot the daan going to Malacañang. Now is the best time to prosecute them, which indeed P-Noy wants to do to Arroyo. His vow to fight corruption demands it. But what about Villar? In lieu of prosecuting him, the LP now wants to make him a partner. What does that make of the motto of the daang matuwid? We don’t particularly care that he’s corrupt so long as he’s our corrupt?

Even worse than this, of course the NP also includes Cayetano who stood out as a voice of reason and decency in the Corona impeachment, but it also includes Bongbong Marcos who did not. Indeed, who has stood out only for wanting the world to turn his father into a hero, implicit in his campaign to get him buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Doubtless the Libingan ng mga Bayani is also the resting place of scoundrels, but the symbolic value of burying Marcos there would not have been lost on those who want to revise history. Neither will his impending rapprochement with Mar Roxas and other LP leaders.

The barbs traded by P-Noy’s and Villar’s camps during the last campaign were just words that are best forgotten today? Well, the barbs hurled by P-Noy’s camp against Villar’s had to do with Villar leaving behind an impoverished life—drowning in a flood of refuse was his awe-inspiring image—by means that suggest he never really left it, morally if not literally. That is a “difference” you can rise above? How is that different from Koko Pimentel’s “difference” with Migz Zubiri, the one that has to do with Migz stealing four years of Koko’s term, that Erap wants Koko to rise above?

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Some “differences” you thresh out only with justice. Some “differences” you rise above only by punishing the guilty.

The LP may move on, the NP may move on, but it will not be for the sake of the country. They may all move on, but the fight against corruption will not, the daang matuwid will not, the drive to make things better will not. They may all move on, but the country will not, the people will not, history will not. This country and its people will lie prostrate on the ground, their backs broken by the last straw of “differences.”

The UNA vs. the LP-NP-NPC?

A plague on both your houses.

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TAGS: 2013 midterm elections, Joseph Estrada, Liberal Party, politics, UNA
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