- Jonas Burgos, by the way, is but one case in many. About 800 such activists have in fact been extra-judicially executed or disappeared, and more than 50 journalists assassinated in the Arroyo regime, the latter case making the Philippines the most dangerous place on earth for journalists after Iraq, which, being itself a war zone, makes for no comparison. Journalists who are merely taken to court, such as the case with those who have run afoul of the president’s husband, Mike, who sues them wholesale, have yet a great deal to be thankful for – they are able to keep their lives and limbs.
- To add insult to murder, the Arroyo regime has characterized the activists dismissively, stereotypically as communists purged by their own movement, and the journalists as mostly corrupt and abusive ones getting their comeuppance. In all cases, the regime has pronounced the military, on the other hand, as absolutely innocent.
- Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has reduced its existence into doing the president’s bidding, overstretching the legitimate idea of political coalition into the treacherous one of conspiracy.
- For their part, many in business, a sector that customarily dances with the political wind, have shown a flirtation with a radical step promoted by an elder statesman, an idolater of the Singaporean strongman Lee Kuan Yew. Indeed, I will never understand how one can go with Lee the foreign fluke and dismiss the native specimen itself – Ferdinand the Real McCoy.
- Finally, the Commission on Elections, the supposed protector of the free vote, democracy’s fundamental weapon of reform, has done little, if at all, to rebuild its credibility. The resignation of its chairman amid accusations he brokered the zte deal has only furthered, not dampened, suspicions that whatever he stood to gain from the deal was reward for summarily letting off the election commissioner Arroyo lobbied – Virgilio Garcillano, for whom the “Hello Garci” tapes have been named – and subsequently getting his commission to validate her presidential victory. If the commission has moved forward at all, in response to Arroyo’s stock exhortation every time the past is raked on her, it has done so from fraud to fraud – from Garci to Lintang Bedol, his worthy disciple who made his own mark in the following election, the midterm one this year.
Did we really yet need the ZTE deal or the Malacañang bribe or the Estrada pardon how badly off we were? Don’t we suspect at all that Arroyo has taken increasing risks with power – initially with desperation, then with arrogance, then with shamelessness, and now with madness – because, as the American idiom for the utterly dominated goes, she has got our number?
Gloria Arroyo has made a travesty of democracy and the moral philosophy on which it is founded. She is the pretender, we the people – journalists and advocates included without distinction – are the rightful sovereign.
So, what do we do?