AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star
Call it the Law of Karma or a lesson from the Bible on Divine justice. Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is now reaping the fruits for nurturing those Ampatuan seeds in Maguindanao for her own selfish political interests. These Ampatuan seeds include Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr.
The November 23 Maguindanao massacre, allegedly perpetrated by Andal Ampatuan, Jr., transformed Filipino pride from the triumphs of Manny Pacquiao and Efren Penaflorida into Filipino shame over the barbarity of political intolerance in our country. Philippine local politics have been traditionally dirty and bloody (other than corrupt) but the scale and meanness with which the Maguindanao massacre was done shook the sense of decency not just of Filipinos but of other nationals as well.
No less than United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed the international outrage. Not just political rivals but also women and journalists were brutally murdered. The body count has reached 57 victims and there is no ruling out that there could be more. The worst incidence of political violence in our country – it was clearly premeditated, ruthless, indiscriminate, brazen and fiendish.
It was such an unimaginable crime that one would only expect from a mean, ruthless, bloodthirsty and despotic monarch in some anachronistic kingdom far, far away. But a far, far away kingdom is not where the Maguindanao massacre happened. It happened in a country that is touted to be a democracy which boasts of having staged the inspiring 1986 People Power Revolution.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had labeled the Philippines as now the most dangerous country for journalists – effectively overtaking war-torn Iraq. Considering the world fraternity of journalists, this atrocity is not going to be off the press for a long time until a perceived just conclusion has been reached.
Prior to the Maguindanao massacre, GMA appeared to be focused on preparing to exit with a semblance of respectability. She had relinquished the leadership of the Lakas Kampi CMD Party of the administration to her anointed 2010 presidential candidate – Gilbert Teodoro. Her current TV advertising reminds us of the achievements of her administration. Now, all these have been rendered puny and irrelevant to the respectability and recognition she seeks in the light of what the Maguindanao massacre injected into the equation.
GMA cannot escape accountability for what the Ampatuans became in Maguindanao. In fact, the Maguindanao massacre has been juxtaposed with the climate of impunity which characterizes the GMA regime. Every political watcher knows that it is in Ampatuan country where the 2004 and 2007 elections had the worst cheating – where GMA’s political rivals got statistically improbable zero votes in many places.
In his November 26 Camp Crame presscon, Local Government Secretary Ronnie Puno announced that they had already relieved all Ampatuan country police officers and disarmed all militia men too. This came after witnesses testified that the massacre was conducted with the active participation of PNP officers and militia men.
This is a confirmation of the immense control the Ampatuans had over their fiefdom – something which GMA cannot justify. It is because of this power why these warlords can act with such shameless impunity. Sans any semblance of checks and balance to make them think twice, it is easy to see how these warlords manipulate elections and how GMA’s political rivals subsequently register improbable zero votes.
Puno tried to downplay the issue of the slow moving wheels of justice in making the alleged mastermind or masterminds account for the accusations against them. Puno said that, all the time, the authorities were silently, carefully making their moves. It looked more like they were negotiating.
The massacre happened on November 23 and the young Ampatuan was only turned over to Mindanao Adviser Jess Dureza on November 26. In contrast, Ted Failon was arrested right after police saw the body of his late wife – without anyone accusing Failon of murder. Of course, Andal Ampatuan Jr. was an important GMA ally while Failon was a big thorn to the GMA regime.
GMA is now haunted by the “Frankenstein Monster” of her own making. The Ampatuans can threaten her with exposure of the gory details of the 2004 and the 2007 election cheating. If that is not bad enough for her, the Mangudadatus – the offended and aggrieved party – were once in partnership with the Ampatuans and they would also know where the “bodies” of the 2004 and 2007 election cheatings were buried.
Either way, GMA is running the risk of being exposed for those hitherto unproved cases of massive election cheatings in 2004 and 2007. Filipinos and the rest of the world will not accept a whitewash – no way. But if the Ampatuans or the Mangudadatus feel shortchanged by GMA, either of them could sing terribly embarrassing and incriminating songs.
In the 1986 Snap Presidential Election campaign, it was as if some powerful force was determining and guiding events in our country. Cory Aquino, the political neophyte, could do nothing wrong. On the other hand, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the wily political veteran, could not do anything right.
How does one deal with Divine and Karmic forces? How does one escape from an unfolding moment of hubris?