Destination: Towards the sunset of irrelevance

By Buddy Gomez

Posted at Feb 26 2015 12:40 AM | Updated as of Feb 26 2015 08:40 AM

The story of the valiant, the gallant “Fallen 44” of the Mamasapano encounter police commandos will never be irrelevant.

Its lesson will be most telling in matters of presidential governance and nobody knows this better than Benigno Aquino III himself. In claiming ultimate responsibility for the Fallen 44, he said, “….I will carry this to the end of my days.” How else does one express ever so contritely sympathies and commiseration? He knows the true extent of his leadership’s responsibility even as we all still await its definitive scenario and sequence. What if the generally circulated unsubstantiated information and its subjective interpretations, for truly that is where we are at for the most part, prove to be at odds with the forthcoming truth? As a matter of fact, with verified information beginning to trickle in, it appears that initial accusative reportage is now revealed to be false and malicious.

A remark uttered by one among the bereaved after a visit from the President played up by some of Manila’s mainstream media goes something like this: “….the answers that we want, he is unable to say…” (“…yung sagot na gusto namin, hindi niya masabi.”) Please reread and understand: “gusto namin”…... and “hindi niya masabi.” (”what we want” ….. ”he cannot say.”) The unequivocal indication--that this particular relative of a slain police commando, speaking in the plural as though she spoke for all--is the dominant presence of preconceived conclusions already in her mind. And there is more than sufficient evidence that these preconceived conclusions animate the behavior of a considerable number in the public, especially those of small minds. Conclusions evoked more by emotions than by logic and sobriety. These inexact communications thread is the result of indiscriminate reportage of unsubstantiated bits of information from unidentified sources by most in the mainstream media, picked up and abetted by social media, feeding one upon the other and vice versa, that is fanning the contrived attempt at whipping up hysteria. It is a known practice that the boisterous talking heads of radio commentaries feed ever so voraciously upon the same trough.

Goodness, even an attempt of the President at well intentioned empathy, that is: equating the death by assassination of his father, Ninoy, as a loss that has likewise caused personal grief to him as a son, (loosely meant as “we are in the same boat” or ”we are on equal terms”), was twisted into local words which the President never uttered, and was reported as “tabla-tabla (even-steven in gaming parlance) with a seemingly insidious amount of derision as condescension and a lack of sensitivity. Of course, the emotions expressed by the bereaved are to be respected and understood but certainly not sacrosanct as to become an element, no matter how infinitesimal, of government destabilization rhetoric. And much of media has been very complicit in the promotion of ill will towards the President. His calm and composure under the weight of this problem besetting the nation is twisted and reinterpreted to be insensitivity and incompetence.

Yet, there is an obvious neglect in the metropolis of a very significant interview with photos by Carolyn O. Arguillas of MindaNews on Feb 12, coming from the ranks of the Bangsamoro proponents/MILF--an interview of Commander Haraman right in sitio Amilil, Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Beyond a cursory use by online, this genuine news from an eye-witness and a real participant in the encounter was completely absent from Manila’s newspapers, as far as I was able to observe. Commander Haraman was quoted as having said: “sila pa ang unang bumaril...kung hindi kami pinaputukan…hindi mangyayari and nangyari….” (They were the ones who fired first...had they not fired upon us...what happened would not have happened.) No investigation and analysis of the tragic event can be complete without the acceptance of testimonies from MILF and non-military on-site witnesses. What if their accounts provide truths or portions thereof? (BTW, Jojo Binay’s wife, Elenita, was finally arraigned by the Sandiganbayan more than a week ago. Was there media coverage about it?) Funny that Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Monday editorial calls for “more voices from Mindanao.”


The President is hurting mortally but hardly anybody seems to mind. Of course, the “Fallen 44” predominates and there is absolutely no intent at diminishing, much less downgrading its pain. But what added excruciation and unbearable distress it must be when the very blood of your mother’s blood calls for your hide and carcass!
I am speaking of the public role now being played by the President’s uncle and this uncle’s wife, Peping and Tingting Cojuangco, joining the motley ranks of bellyachers and hecklers calling for the President’s political demise. One begins to wonder what would it have been that Peping and Tingting wanted from their nephew, the president, which the latter did not grant? And from a reverentially spiritual perch, I wonder how and what Tita Cory feels about her younger brother and sister-in-law, in utter desecration, using her memory and that of Ninoy to disparage their only son. (They wore T-shirts depicting Cory and Ninoy with palms covering their faces in shame and saying “Son, what happened to you?” in Pilipino----“Anak, bakit ka nagkaganyan?)

It is disgusting! With such cheap and obscene antics, the dignity of civil dissent is devalued and coming as it does from the selfish personal discontent of a blood relative simply eviscerates the sanctity of family. The face of Philippine politics has never been uglier. Karma will most probably have in store a good measure of commensurate comeuppance. Perhaps, it has already began. The couple has already reaped such unsavory media coverage of their participation and presence among those calling for the fall of this presidency. And proudly announcing support, too, for the presidential ambition of a candidate accused of monumental plunder and thievery of the people’s money. Such morals!


In a study of the history of uprisings and protest movements in this country, one is able to trace its beginnings to religious dissent and mysticism, its misrepresentations along with supernaturalism. In modern times, we are introduced to political zealots with claims to patriotism, to the discontented, neglected, disregarded and dissatisfied power-seekers, to the looney tunes and the pixilated who are never far from the center of the ruckus. A scholar who undertook an in-depth study of this socio-political phenomenon (Popular Uprisings in the Philippines 1840-1940/Cornell University Press by David R. Sturtevant, a Stanford U Ph.D.) described the instigators and participants in the pre-World War II disturbances as: “Middle class professionals with grievances…disgruntled lawyers, unsuccessful union organizers, disappointed office-seekers, frustrated journalists.” How very apt a description of the cast of characters in our contemporary events!

[Mr. Andrew Lim, in a contribution to the “Society of Honor,” a blog accessible @ classified these characters into 4 groups namely: The Marxists/Leninists/Maoists; the National Transformation Council/Political Bishops; the Marcos and Arroyo loyalists/journalists and the Indicted/the Ousted.]

Over the last several days, flashed via video clips of on my “Surface” tablet/laptop, I recognized familiar faces and names. They were those of friends and acquaintances, known and lesser-known individuals who have led and joined the various groups calling for the president’s resignation, his stepping down, even warning of their perverted version of “People Power” and wishing for a coup d’etat. They all possess something in common. They all belong to the “outs” of the current government dispensation and they are mostly senior citizen has-beens and never-beens. As a consequence of which, I dare characterize them as performing the gasping rituals of a pitiably last hurrah. Pitiable because their very presence and participation spell the doom for the objectives of their impertinent enterprise. And they seem to be anesthesized to reality. Deep in their subconscious there lurks the inevitability of their riding towards the sunset. For them, it is the make or break, the now or never of their existence! And so, in defiance of the impertinence of their foolishness, they now face the wages of self-inflicted fiasco.

When soon political dust and detritus vanish, standing tall, steady, strong and vibrant is democracy in the Philippines. Our nation’s on-going maturation is being well-earned. Ironically, we have the”losers” to thank for that. The country has been able to withstand the momentary irritation provided by them, they who are now riding into the sunset. Happy they are who ride towards the sunset of irrelevance, never fully knowing that they marched in lockstep with folly!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.