The Real World

I’m supposed to be writing four concept papers. But after seeing Billy Esposo’s March 20 commentary on Inq7’s Viewpoints area, I realized I cannot continue with the aformentioned papers without getting this off my chest.

I remember an argument I had with a barkada, just sometime late last year. I was complaining about the horrid state politics in general, and politics in the LP in particular, has become following July 8. My friend took a jab at me by saying, in so many words, that what the hell was I complaining about when I, of all people, should have expected politics to be made up of nothing but dirt and shit. I argued, rather heatedly as the conversation turned into a full blown debate between us, that, yes, some compromises have to made with one’s idealism (and even ethics!) to operate in the political sphere, but there are just some things you don’t do. There’s a line you draw in the concrete, I said, and you don’t cross that.

Besides, I argued, not all politicos are horrid monsters. I passionately defended “reformists” in the political sphere, people who I thought stood for higher standards. I think this was where we started really arguing, because I insisted that, despite the murk of politics, there are people who you can still trust to fight the good fight and stay true to the ideals and principles they taught and made one believe in.

At the time of that debate with my barkada, I guess I thought I’d seen it all.

That was until 2 March 2006, when LA and a whole lot, if not an outright majority, of Party leaders decided to take matters into their own hands and take down Drilon and company from the leadership of the LP.

I wouldn’t be much of an analyst if I didn’t expect a countermove; duh. Of course there would be. Given the stakes of the game, I knew Drilon and his people would hit back. Their still had “weapons” in their arsenal, after all, resources at their command. Even worse (at least, for LA’s group, from my perspective), some of the most well-known and those regarded as “progressive” in the LP were in Drilon’s group. This, I thought, would make this whole contest really, really, interesting. But, I thought, truth will out. People, once told of what really happened last 8 July 2005, and why March 2 had to happen the way it did, will realize that, at the very least, the whole situation is more complex than simple a… corollary to the whole GMA-Garci thing.

I, too, have been guilty, many times, of overestimation.

Actually, Billy Esposo’s article is not surprising; he’s anti-Gloria, so given that context it’s not really surprising he’d take the Drilon line, insisting that even what happened to the LP is intimately connected to GMA. Okay, maybe it is: if Drilon had not been tempted by suddenly becoming President – however acting – before 2010, maybe the LP wouldn’t be in this mess.

It’s in the… other sources of information, they way they treated this fiasco, that has shown me just how really ugly, dirty and thoroughly lacking in morals and ethics this world can be.

In a post made last March 9, PCIJ’s blog showcased comments from Rep. Neric Acosta. In the post, titled “Filipinos Dying by a Thousand Cuts,” Neric gave us a preview of the Drilon’s group true mentality regarding the Atienza group, which I thought showed that any attempt to unite the Party, even if Ka Jovy Salonga was the one to mediate it, would not even get to first base. Again, this was not surprising. Neric is a person I respect and admire a lot, but he’s like Chito in the way the adamantly stick to the positions they espouse on an issue, regardless of the context of other mitigating factors surrounding the issue.

What hit me was the way PCIJ – a well-respected institution, indeed regarded as the last bastion of objective, professional, investigative journalism – treated the LP issue. If you check the post and proceed to the comments section, you’d notice a post made by Phoenix Blue, asking why PCIJ has only showcased the comments from Drilon group people (Chito had already been featured a few days before).

I am Phoenix Blue.

Neric’s comments are something that didn’t surprise me, but PCIJ’s treatment did. I have the greatest respect for PCIJ. I tell people that it was reliable, objective and professional, that it was one of the best sources for objective-yet-hard-hitting information this side of the Pacific. So it came as a surprise to me that PCIJ was suddenly seemingly taking sides. Like I said as Phoenix Blue, there had already been two posts made by Drilon people on the LP issues, but none from the other side. I said this somehow did not fit in my defnition of fair journalism, that giving airtime or print space to only one side can badly skew the perceptions of readers, even more so that PCIJ is regarded not just as a Gatekeeper of Information, but a Strategic Constituent as well.

Until now, there have been no “rebuttal” posts in PCIJ’s blog.

Perhaps that’s what’s rankling. Anti-Gloria people claim to be so on the basis of morality: the little girl cheated (the constitutionally-guaranteed right of innocence-until-proven-otherwise aside), therefore she should go. For National Demcorats and Rightists to do what they do is something that will not bother me; I know them, I have been trained to stand against them, so I am not surprised about anything they do. Ditto for Erap people, because they really are just a… variant of the communist “everything for the revolution” (replace “revolution” with “erap”) credo.

It is the way “our” people – the so-called Moderates, the ones in the center, the ones who call themselves liberal yet are as illiberal and unethical in their comport in this issue as the person they hope to supplant – have acted that hurts me so much. Since when did the morals and ideals that the Center stood for gave way to justifying any and all acts to achieve our objectives?

Look at Chito: he is portrayed as the paragon of all that is good and true in today’s young leaders. But he suppresses dissent and different opinions. If you do not side with him, you are the enemy. He subjects you to the worst public humiliation you can ever have and you can’t do anything because he is Chito Gascon. And if you won’t bow down to him and his humiliation of you, he will try to erase you from the equation, like what he’s tried to do to KALIPI, like what he’s tried to do to me.

It is painful to see so many of those I admire and hoped to emulate on the other side of this battle. More so because I do not consider myself fully on any side: I said I will stand up against Gloria when she transgresses human rights and the freedoms we enjoy, rights and freedoms she swore to defend, but I do not automatically believe the Garci tapes are for real. I know too much. I know that the technology and skill to manipulate information is there. And it is absurdly amusing to see people who help put Gloria where she is right now – who ran her campaign, for God’s sake – saying she cheated and therefore must be removed.

It is painful to see them there. And to hear them justify their acts be a hundred different reasons. It is painful because you know the truth. I was there in 8 July 2005, when a dolorous blow was dealt the Liberal Party by its very own President, by its own leaders, by the people the Party regarded as its paragons and bannermen.

Because if the people who supposedly represent all that is true, noble and good in the LP cloak their actions in shadow and deceit, in slander and propaganda… what and who else can you believe in?

I was there last July 8, and two days before that where Drilon and his factotums (to use a new term being bandied between LP camps) declared July 8 as “katulad ng ginawa natin ngayon,” or similar to what we did today, “today” referring to July 6, which was a simple consultation. I was there. I know the truth. And I believe they know it, too. Yet they can appear in public and still claim the truth is otherwise. Unless they have started to believe their own propaganda.

Was my friend right? Was my Atenean idealism making me believe in an illusion?

Is this, then, the real world?

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