Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Legend of the 'Fall'

By Noralyn Mustafa
Inquirer News Service
First posted 01:43am (Manila Time) July 25, 2005

CONGENITAL, habitual, pathological, incurable, compulsive, hypocritical, vicious, immoral. Never had I read as many modifiers being used to describe the noun "liar." These-and others too embarrassing to print-were in the text messages that came in from readers and friends after GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo delivered her "I'm sorry" speech. (I learned from some colleagues that the messages crisscrossed the country that night in different variations.)

Which got me to thinking: when was the last time the Filipino people called their President (however he or she became one) a congenital, habitual, pathological, incurable, compulsive, hypocritical, vicious, immoral liar?

This was a very bothersome thought, because from it, all else follow.

It is, as Sen. Panfilo Lacson described in his "True State of the Nation" address delivered last Friday, the debilitating cancer that has contaminated and corroded the moral and social fiber of our nation.

And because of this, nothing is going to work. Not the elaborate attempts to cover up or tone down the effects of the so-called Garcitapes, not the supposed demonstrations of support from local government officials; neither the frequent "kodakan" and walk-abouts with Cabinet secretaries and other allies, all of which only come off as cheap theater.

Because of this, every statement Ms Arroyo issues, every television appearance or radio broadcast she makes is now greeted only with more derision and/or laughter.

Not even the impeccable reputations of the personalities nominated to the truth commission she proposes can lend a shred of credibility to that body, simply because lying and truth are contradictory, and one cannot result from the other. We are confident that these respected individuals will choose to spare themselves the ignominy of being used in this highly oxymoronic endeavor.

Never has the presidency been so disgraced. And never have we, as a people, been so degraded as when her allies kept on scaring us with declarations that there is "no alternative" to Ms Arroyo, implying that the best that the Filipino race can produce is, to quote Neal Cruz, "an incoherent midget."

Not a few seemed disappointed with the very mild and motherly speech of Susan Roces in the Makati rally, which was in direct contrast to that famous fire-and-brimstone salvo she spewed on Ms Arroyo on television.

But the Makati speech was perfect. As simple as the Ten Commandments, as precise as the Panatang Makabayan which, she told the youth who were at the rally, "it seems we, your elders, have now forgotten." Because, next to the home, it is the school and the church-education and religion-where we are taught not to bear false witness and to love our country enough so that we do not screw our countrymen from Day One of our assumption to the highest office of the land.

And Susan Roces did not have to go to Georgetown University to learn these lessons.

After all, even the value of education, which really means drawing out and developing what we intrinsically are, depends to a very large extent on the moral framework of the recipient.

Which is why one can understand how Luli Arroyo, acknowledged like her mother for her academic excellence-diplomatic studies in her case-could engage in such undiplomatic language as "porke't maganda ka, actress ka, may mga award ka sa pag-artista, kaya mo na (maging presidente)." (Being an awarded actress does not mean you can be president.)

Of course, had Inday stooped to that level, she could very well have replied "porke't may doctorate ka, kahit ka dakilang sinungaling, pwede kang mamuno?" (And just because one has a Ph. D., no matter if one is a liar, then can be president?) But then Ms Poe is what my mother would call "a lady." And she doesn't need a college degree to be one.

This is the reason I am very glad that we have someone like there markable in-your-face Rep. Francis Escudero overseeing the impeachment complaint. He is the kind who-as he has done and proved-can keep his sights above the dizzying mountain of sins that MsArroyo has committed against us, and can lump them all up under three focused headings that we can all comprehend: lying, cheating and stealing.

Don't lie, don't steal, don't cheat. That's what we were taught as early as Grade I by our underpaid teachers in the public schools. Surely, the good sisters in Assumption College never ceased teaching the same, and with much more zeal.

No, let us not, as the administration so ardently desires, allow ourselves to be distracted by the legal labyrinth regarding the source of the wiretapped tapes or their admissibility as evidence; or by the maelstrom of statistics proving alleged accomplishments, regularly coming out of Rep. Joey Salceda's bag of tricks; or by Secretary MikeDefensor's deafening defense of the indefensible.

Neither should we torment ourselves by wondering about the moves of the opposition, as to what they are doing to remove from our midst the cause of all our miseries here at home and the cause of all our shame in the global community.

I am willing to give the opposition my trust and can only hope that it will not betray us. Because Ms Arroyo has so damaged our collective psyche that we have almost totally lost trust in each other and in our institutions.

Her recently acquired propensity to quote from the Scriptures (anability, indeed, that even the devil can and does exercise) might even, heaven forbid, make us lose our trust in the Almighty. And that will be our perdition.

String up all video clips of the Cabinet in prayer before each meeting and observe. While all heads are bowed, Ms Arroyo is smiling at the camera, or looking at someone across the table, or up at the ceiling. That is the "Omen." Be forewarned.

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