The following article was written by JR dela Cruz, the former head of Ninoy Aquino's fraternity in UP (Upsilon Sigma Phi). JR just graduated from the UP College of Law and just took the bar.
He wrote this article to put a couple of important points across to Conrado de Quiros, a columnist that I and others revere.
Call a spade a spade, and a pig a pig.
Today at 5:57am
Today at 5:57am
Conrado de Quiros, you are the man. Few opinion writers in the Philippines can lay claim to your impeccable writing style, to your uncanny choice of words, and the thing I love most – your sardonic wit, which not only amuses but also almost always hits the point. After the death of Cory, however, after that moving eulogy you wrote (that eulogy ought to be immortalized, side by side with the apocalyptic ‘May Araw Din Kayo’), you have dropped all pretense of humor and subtlety and have suddenly turned into Noynoy Aquino’s biggest propagandist.
I have great respect for you, Mr. de Quiros, but I just do not, cannot, and will not buy all the “Battle-of-good-vs.-evil, Noynoy-is-our-Messiah-slash-Obama (please lang, sir. Wag naman.)” propaganda. I don’t buy all this contrived madness the Kapamilya network, “civil society” and the grand old Partido Liberal are trying to ram down our throats.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing personal against Noynoy. I’ve met him once, and he is obviously a nice guy. If I was voting for student council president, or maybe even mayor, I probably wouldn’t hesitate to vote for him. By all indications, he is indeed one damn good person, as you, Mr. de Quiros, would put it. But really, is one damn good person what we need right now? Is nice enough to take us out of the mess we are in? Is his amiable personality enough to gloss over the fact that he has spent most of his years in Congress doing, well, not much, and that, just like the lot of them, he is a politician taking advantage of this singular opportunity – of all things, his mother’s death – to be president?
The bigger man, the wiser man, the one damn good person would, after seeing the multitude of mourners outpouring their devotion for his mother, have declined the temptation to be goaded into running; in Tagalog, hindi siya magpapabuyo. Certainly, a good man would have at least waited a little longer and not announced his candidacy right after the ritualistic 40 days after the passing of his mother, making it seem like he was just obliged to comply with Filipino tradition so as not to look insensitive, but at the same time that he couldn’t wait a day more since he’s thrown his hat in the race too late and must thus make up for lost time.
For in his years of public service, in his whole life, really, can Noynoy honestly say he thinks himself competent enough to be president? Or is it more likely that the crowd at his mother’s wake, and his slew of very able advisers – pardon the digression, but Drilon, Abad, which side are you on lately? – emboldened him into that way of thinking? While in his “period of discernment”, I was hoping that for at least once in my life, I would witness a true statesman, selfless, wise, like the previous generation witnessed Ninoy. He would’ve been that statesman had he declined, knowing he knows nothing and being truly wise for it. Alas, the blinding allure of power, the buoying wave of his mother’s (not even his own) supporters, was too strong to resist. If this doesn’t reek of political opportunism, I don’t know what does.
I agree, we shouldn’t vote purely on competence. But that shouldn’t stop experience from reminding us what happens if we vote for an incompetent president. What happens is we vote a hundred thousand advisers with him/her. What happens is after three years in office, we try to take him/her out again, realizing we made a mistake. If we’re unsuccessful, we call it a coup attempt. If we’re successful, we call it Edsa Dos. What happens is we pin our hopes on another popular icon, another shining symbol, without realizing that we’re being f*cked by the same people over and over again.
I agree, Mr. de Quiros, we do need someone we can trust. But I don’t see how that someone is Noynoy at all. On what action, on what defining issue, on what aspect of his life, save for being born into his name or being born in Hacienda Luisita, should we base our trust in him? If the name and the land bear it all, why then don’t we throw all our support behind Kris Aquino, or yes, Gilbert Teodoro? A press briefing right after the announcement of the Noynoy-Mar tandem is very telling.
Asked how different he was from Teodoro, his second cousin, Noynoy, probably caught off guard, only managed to say that he hoped not to “engage in meaningless arguments but rather on how we intend to push our beliefs in how to govern the country and convince people who has a better plan and platform of government between us”. Yeah, right. Evade the question, give a motherhood statement.
His running mate, correctly realizing that the answer his partner gave was so lame, butted in saying that it was apparent Aquino had difficulty answering the question because after all, he and Teodoro were relatives. Mar then offered his own answer, saying that the difference is “Secretary Gibo said he believed in the programs and policies of GMA and that he would continue them, and Sen. Noynoy does not want the crooked, the wrong. He does not want mulcting and plundering. So, he will do what is straight and true. That’s their difference."
First of all, to dismiss as meaningless argument the most compelling argument he can make – that of differentiating himself from his cousin – tells us that maybe he himself recognizes that there is not much of a difference between them. Second, for Mar to say that Sen. Noynoy does not want the crooked, the wrong, the mulcting and plundering only exposes his and his running mate’s hypocrisy. Didn’t Noynoy sign the impeachment complaint against Pres. Estrada in 2000, become Deputy Speaker of an Arroyo-JDV Congress in 2004, run for Senate under Erap in 2007, and now isn’t he in the middle of talks with Erap again? Now you tell me who’s a better man, one who flip-flops between two crooks or one who remains loyal to a crook despite her dismal popularity? To paraphrase Orwell, it’s like looking from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, only to see that it is impossible to say which is which.
You denounce, Mr. de Quiros, Ronnie Puno for having served three masters who delivered this country to the dogs – Marcos, Erap, Gloria – conveniently leaving Cory and Ramos out of the enumeration, as if 1986-1998 were such glorious years in our nation’s history. But really, how different is Ronnie Puno from the posse who currently surround Noynoy? We want a prime example? Let’s look no further than Drilon, the Chairman of Noynoy’s party and one of his closest supporters. Let’s see. He served as Justice Secretary and Executive Secretary of Cory, Justice Secretary of Ramos, Senate President of Erap, ran under Gloria’s “People Power Coalition” in 2004, before bolting once again and re-emerging now behind Noynoy Aquino. How many masters has he served? What makes him better than Ronnie Puno? Again, between the two of them, it’s impossible to say which is which.
All I am asking, Mr. de Quiros, is that you call a spade a spade, and call a pig a pig. If it is a choice of the lesser evil and not a battle of good versus evil then say it. Expose each and every candidate to the people so that we may make an informed decision. Do not stoke our pent up anger at the present administration and our outpour of emotion for the late president into an emotional vote for Noynoy. Sayang e. Magagamit nanaman yung mga tao. Magagago nanaman. Turn it instead into an indignant demand to our candidates for something new, something real. They have never faced that anger. They have not been made accountable for their past actions. Because what we always try to do is to look for that symbol, that pearl, regardless whether that pearl lies among the swines. You are an opinion writer, yes, and are thus entitled to espouse one candidate over another. You are a friend of the late president and of the Aquinos. But I hope you realize that you also represent for many from our generation someone to look up to, and we do not have much left. Please, for the sake of a truly informed electorate, for the sake of political maturity, stop the propaganda and heed this call.
I still love you, Conrado de Quiros. And I love Ninoy. Cory, I am indifferent to. But we all know what will happen if Noynoy wins in 2010.