There’s The Rub: Puny by Conrado de Quiros via @elvinuy

November 30, 2009 at 6:47 am Leave a comment

I now believe Arroyo hired her spokespersons so she could have deniability. So she could always disown the thoughts and sentiments they ascribe to her.

Look how Lorelei Fajardo answered last week the question of whether her boss would continue to have anything to do with the Ampatuans. “I don’t think the President’s friendship with the Ampatuans will be severed. Just because they’re in this situation doesn’t mean we will turn our backs on them.” Allowing for some nuances lost or added by our reporter’s translation of her remarks from Tagalog to English, they still leave you gaping in disbelief.

Just because they’re in this situation? Well, this is not a situation where they’ve been found stealing ballot boxes from precincts. This is not a situation where—since there’s no need to steal ballot boxes anyway, they can always produce zero votes for GMA’s rivals—they’ve been found terrorizing rival clans. This is not a situation where their rivals’ supporters have been found rotting in grassy knolls, and though suspicion naturally falls on them, they cannot be pinned down to it.

This is a situation where 57 people have been brutally murdered, the teeming number of the dead exceeded only by the wanton savagery of the deed. This is a situation where men and women—and had there been children, children too, the witnesses swearing Andal Jr., not unlike Herod, expressly ordered them to kill every man, woman and child—were variously tortured and raped, the genitalia of some of the women mutilated, before they were shot. This is a situation where, like the vicious lords of crime empires who have become so by showing the world they are prepared to boldly go where no cutthroats have gone before, the Ampatuans have announced their handiwork for all to see and fear.

Just because they’ve severed heads, GMA will sever her ties with them? Good question.

Before that, Cerge Remonde was asking Andal Ampatuan Jr. to voluntarily surrender.

Why on earth would you ask the author of something that easily qualifies in the international courts as a crime against humanity to give himself up? Or indeed, as Ronaldo Puno did, to show he was a tough guy, warn the Ampatuans that if Andal did not surrender by midday last Thursday they risked a military assault?

Do you tell the Abu Sayyaf, when they’ve left their hostages dead and decapitated, to turn themselves over or risk military action? Do you tell the MILF when you believe them to have ambushed a group of soldiers to surrender themselves? No. You send your special forces to storm their lairs and to run them to the ground. If they surrender, fine, if they don’t just as fine, if not better. You do not make it a matter of choice. Paying for a crime is not a matter of volition. Paying for a crime of this magnitude is not a matter of “sige na nga, suko na nga lang ako.”

The only thing in fact that Remonde and Puno contribute by their utterances is to acknowledge what Toto Mangudadatu knows, what the witnesses and survivors know, what the dead know, what all of Maguindanao or indeed Mindanao knows, what the world knows, with absolute certainty:

The Ampatuans did it.

And then there was GMA herself, lamenting “this tragedy” and “sad legacy of our nation,” asking us to “pray today that the events of this week will not deter us from breaking the bonds of violence that plague our political system.”

This wasn’t the first time GMA did this. Caught plotting with Garci to steal the vote, she fulminated against the legacy of patronage that had been plaguing our political system, as though what she had done wasn’t the very apotheosis of patronage politics. Caught masterminding the NBN deal, she fulminated against the legacy of corruption that had been plaguing this country’s social system, as though what she had done wasn’t to push corruption to the max. And now caught coddling the Ampatuans, she fulminates against the legacy of violence that has been plaguing this country, as though what she has done is not to sow the seeds of bloodletting whose bitter harvest we are now reaping.

Sad? Tragic? I don’t know which is the more vicious, the violence the Ampatuans wreaked upon life or the violence GMA wreaks upon thought.

One is tempted to say that GMA’s own sense of impunity does not lie in a lack of appreciation for the enormity of the crime but only in the smug confidence that she will get away with it just as she has gotten away with all sorts of crimes in the past. In part that is true. She has gotten away with lying, she has gotten away with cheating, she has gotten away with stealing. Hell, she has gotten away with murder, the real, literal and physical murder of Jonas Burgos and the other political activists, many of them in the flush of youth, filled with fire, life and idealism. As has her current defense secretary, Norberto Gonzales. She figures she’ll get away with this one too.

But it’s more than that. It is simply that having spent a lifetime dodging retribution for crimes that commend themselves to the Hague, her own sense of enormity, atrocity and monstrosity has been bonsai-ed. Look at her utterances and see if there is anything in them resembling the kind of reaction the ordinary citizens feel, the instinctive recoiling from vileness so unthinkable, so mind-boggling, so past the range of human experience it has had several women friends of mine having nightmares about it. Look at her utterances and see if there is anything in them resembling the unspeakable outrage the ordinary citizens feel, the sense of violation so complete, so thorough, so annihilative of human interiority they soar to hellish heights contemplating punishments worse than death.

But the hour of reckoning is near. Those who feel impunity now will soon find themselves:


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There’s The Rub: Puny by Conrado de Quiros via @elvinuy Filipino Voices: The Clear and Present Danger of Congresswoman Arroyo by @cocoy

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