‘Awa’ | Inquirer Opinion
There’s the Rub


It’s a classic in how not to apologize. Or it’s a classic in how to apologize without really apologizing. Or it’s a classic in how to apologize while actually asking the other person to apologize to you.

That’s what Manoling Morato did to PCSO chief Margie Juico last week. Morato is one of those Juico has charged with plunder, along with several other former PCSO officials, and along with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as principal. Specifically, Juico has charged the group with spiriting away P365,997,915, passing it off as intelligence expenses. Morato has been under hospital arrest in St. Luke’s since October last year. He and a couple of others were granted bail last week.


Here’s how to apologize the Moratic way. One, be indeterminate about what you are apologizing for. “Dear Chairman Juico,” says Morato, “I take the courage to write you regarding some unfortunate differences that happened between the two of us in the past. I sincerely feel sorry and deeply lament that infamous incident.” What that incident is, nobody knows, probably not even Juico herself. If Juico pins him down to what she assumes he means, he can always say that is not what he meant.

Two, reduce everything to a misunderstanding, or to personal miffs. “I assure you it will not happen again.” Additionally, make the misunderstanding out to be beneath the dignity of  “buenas  familias,” which should promptly be set aside: “In fact, your mother Doña Nena is very dear to me.” And he is what, Don Manoling? Still, additionally, make yourself out to be magnanimous, you are apologizing not because you’ve done something wrong but because the issue is petty. While at this, by rights the other party should really be the one apologizing: “I hold no grudge or anger in my heart.”


And, three, the staple of a–holes in this country who have been caught with their pants down, however unpleasant the image that conjures, resort to being  kaawa-awa, or a pitiful sight, indeed the victim of an oppression. Comes now a litany of his ills: He is 79 years old, he has been confined in St. Luke’s for a long time now, he has had a surgery or two, he is still under observation, he needs to take maintenance pills, etc. All because of a misunderstanding!

Juico responded a couple of days later to say she had forgiven Morato long ago, she is a faithful Christian after all. But Morato still has to face the music. The injury, or insult, is not just to her, it is to the public.

What else can you say to such a horrific comedy, to such a comic horror? We, the public, can at least assure him it truly won’t happen again. He will not be free to steal again. He will not be free to oppress again. He will not be free to breathe the same air as us again.

His “apology” is not a show of courage, it is a show of fear. It is the ashen face of someone hearing the key turn in the lock. What he calls a misunderstanding, the Penal Code calls a crime.

This is by no means the first time Morato has apologized for one. Some 14  years ago, he also apologized to Erap on the eve of his arraignment on several counts of libel. I don’t know why Erap forgave him. He would have done the world a favor by jailing him for it. Every other utterance that issues from his mouth is a lie, legally called libel. It’s not just Erap he has libeled, or lied about, it’s everyone, from Lino Brocka to Juico.

I myself have been a victim of it. Some 20 years ago when I praised Brocka’s “Orapronobis,” he said I was in the payroll of the movie’s producers, Golan Globus. Only last year, after I lambasted him for his crimes against good manners and right conduct or, hell, against humanity, he went out to say we had abandoned our mother to a home for the aged. This creature just lies through his teeth. The only reason he hasn’t been sued more often than there are days in the year is that you worry you could end up at the end of a queue that winds across Metro Manila.

Just as well, only a couple of years ago, he apologized to TG Guingona and Chiz Escudero for railing against them in his program on PTV 4. “Nagsalita  na  naman  ’yung  TG… Talaga  namang  sinungaling  ’yun.” There must be a pathological explanation for why people like Morato and Juan Ponce Enrile keep calling other people liars. Whatever. But this was during the campaign in 2010, and he was campaigning for Gibo Teodoro. Teodoro lost, and Morato, fearing a backlash from his attacks, promptly apologized to those he had offended.


As usual, he made it a point to miss the point. Who cares what his opinions are about people? The point was that he was using government funds, or taxpayers’ money, or our money, to host a program to campaign for a candidate. Franklin Drilon exposed it in the Senate, pointing out that not only was Morato using our money for “Dial M”—P27 million from 2005 to 2010—he also had the gall as a member of the PCSO board to approve another P5 million to replay his campaign rants on IBC 13.

That is corruption, that is a crime. He should have been prosecuted for it. He should have been jailed for it.

But just as well, he made it a point to miss the point: He apologized to the senators when he should have apologized to us, the taxpayers. Not that we would have forgiven him for it. The senators unfortunately did, and the case was forgotten.

Age and sickness are not a natural barrier or impediment to jail. Gender preference is not a natural entitlement to being spared the enforced deprivations and/or unwanted attentions of jail. Juico has a point: What she—and God—may forgive, the law may not. There is such a thing as justice. There is such a thing as crime and punishment. There is such a thing as fighting air pollution.

Of course there is such a thing as  awa  too. But let’s pity ourselves first.

Your daily dose of fearless views

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TAGS: crime, libel, Manuel Morato, Margarita Juico
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