Bong Revilla billed his privilege speech in the Senate in defense of himself as “amazing.” It was amazing only in its temerity.
One is tempted to dismiss it as another one of Kap’s not very amazing stories, stories that have grown stale in the takilya. But he sounds off on some fallacies that draw echoes from the past, fallacies that lie in wait to waylay the unwary. Independence Day is a good time to look at them. Independence Day is a good time to be free of them.
First is his suggestion that instead of hounding nonallies, P-Noy should spend his time bettering the lot of his compatriots. Among others by fighting crime, raising the victims of “Yolanda” back on their feet, and tending to the needs of the poor and hungry.
He forgets that catching crooks is fighting crime. And jailing them the best way to accomplish it. Crime doesn’t happen in the streets, the kind amply represented in action movies, such as those Revilla and Estrada themselves make, replete with car chases and ketchup poured on the clothes of extras in the role of fleeing fugitives. It happens not least in the not-so-august halls of Congress, perpetrated by people clad in finery, proving that you can put a three-piece suit on a monkey and it will still be a monkey.
That in fact is the worst crime of all, involving as it does not just theft but also the betrayal of public trust, not just plucking the food from the mouths of the hungry but also expecting them to be grateful for it.
The reason the mantra “Pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap” resonated among the voters in 2010 is that they grasped its truth, however instinctively, however intuitively. You raid the public coffers, you ravage those already ravaged by Yolanda. As the current record rates of growth prove, the moral does not impede the practical, it gives it impetus. You want government to uplift the lot of the poor, don’t steal.
Second is that word “unity” again. “Lead this country not with hatred but with love,” Revilla says. “Lead the country toward unity and not partisanship. Push our nation’s interest and not political agenda.”
“Team Unity” was of course what Jojo Binay’s party, UNA, called itself in the elections last year, an assortment of shady characters that included Juan Ponce Enrile, an architect of martial law, Erap, a convicted felon, however his conviction was steered through by a bigger felon, and Migz Zubiri, who served four years of Koko Pimentel’s term before bowing out without showing contrition or shame. That is the kind of unity Revilla is calling for now—government forgiving and forgetting the senators and congressmen who helped Janet Napoles scam the country, and uniting with them.
If that rings a bell, it is because it should. That was the same thing the Marcoses and their cronies called for after they were chased out of the country by an irate populace. Except that they called it “reconciliation” then.
That is in fact calling on the lamb to lie with the lion. That is in fact reconciling the victims with their victimizers.
Of course government should lead the country toward unity. But that does not mean including liars, cheaters, and thieves into the aggregate, that means excluding them. The heart of Revilla’s fallacy, which happens to be widely held, is that a nation is only its leaders, and governance consists only of the dynamics between them. “There are,” he says, “many brilliant people in Congress, in the bureaucracy, in the private sector. We only need to join hands.” In fact government needs only to join hands with the teeming poor who have been made so by mind-boggling thievery. In fact government needs only to give a voice to those rendered mute by oppression.
The point of national unity is for government to unite with its people, not with the other leaders. The point of national unity is to unite the people, not the other leaders. Certainly not with those who have screwed the people. The latter is not unity, it is stupidity. The latter is not reconciliation, it is treason. The best way for government to achieve national unity is to scorn, spurn, and excoriate those who made the lives of the people a living hell. The only way for government to love the country is to hate to the depths of its being the people who have shown no love for it.
And finally the not very small matter of justice.
“Enough of squabbling,” Revilla cries. “Enough of vindictiveness. My advocacy from now on is to remove distinctions between yellow, green, blue and red. The same blood runs through our veins, and that is Filipino blood.”
I beg his pardon, but I must protest the idea that the same blood runs through his veins and mine. It is not that I have blue blood (and I don’t mean Ateneo), though my friends imagine me to be possessed of it in spirit at least if not in the flesh. It is simply that green blood seems copiously to run in his own veins, even if the peso, unlike the dollar, does not qualify as a greenback. Well, he may soon be wearing flaming orange to go along with it. But these distinctions do matter, and my own advocacy is not only to make sure that they are not removed but also that they are acutely recognized.
In the end, it’s amusing how many of this country’s crooks, from Marcos to Arroyo, and the minor characters in between, have referred to their prosecution as an act of vindictiveness. It deserves an entire chapter by itself in the history books. It is not unlike calling the effort to convict the Ampatuans for the Maguindanao massacre—it remains without closure to this day—vindictiveness.
Jailing them, says Revilla, would be a poor legacy for P-Noy to leave behind. Ah, but the day it happens is the day I bring out the vintage wine (I don’t like champagne) and say like Stan Lee:
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