Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dr. Minguita Padilla

When one is assaulted physically, when blows or bullets fly, one knows instinctively what to do. Depending on the circumstances, one can run, take cover, shoot or punch back. The answers are clear. But what does one do when the attack is directed at ones sense of decency, self worth and dignity? How does one fight back?

Such is the dilemma many of us face as we live through the daily assault of lies and half truths that have become the hallmark of this administration. So blatant and shameless have been the cover-ups of the president and her cabinet men now turned “operators”, that it has come to the point where the original sin of cheating in the last election for which the president has been accused now pales in comparison to the systematic deception that they have mastered, a deception which accomplishes nothing save to rub salt on fresh wounds of an already battered people.

Those who had called on the president to resign as soon as it was clear that she had lost her moral ascendancy to govern, knew that she could no longer be an effective leader since henceforth all her actions would be geared towards survival and self preservation. She and her men would be so consumed with saving themselves there would be no more room for saving a drowning nation.

The events of the last several weeks have only confirmed these fears. The barrage of relentless propaganda that we have had to endure, some of which have been downright insulting to the sensibilities of all save the delusional, are but the tip of the iceburg in this all-out effort at self preservation. While this fiasco was predictable however, few could have imagined the collateral damage it would inflict along the way, damage that would cut into the very core of our nation’s lifeblood and leave no institution unscathed. Let us begin to count the toll.

The President’s cabinet has been reduced to mud slinging as a result of the resignation of some of the most respected members of her official family. And those who have remained loyal have done so at a great price. Our Press Secretary has lost most of his credibility and much of his dignity after having been used for the most bizarre and misguided of cover-ups and after committing perjury in the House of Representatives. Both acts are now forever immortalized in video for all to replay and remember.

We have an Environment Secretary who has all but abandoned his job in order to act as champion of his besieged president, and whose antics have gone from annoying to ridiculous, epitomized by his latest act of brandishing a person as an “audio expert” who would vindicate Gloria Arroyo, even if this same person has less credibility than a snake oil salesman. After all, how credible can someone be who tried to “market” his “expertise” to both the opposition and the Department of justice several weeks ago, who even the Justice Secretary and the NBI would not touch with a ten foot pole, and who, as the Secretary of Interior and Local Governments revealed, is facing numerous murder, estafa, and extortion charges?

Then we have our Justice Secretary who, despite his sworn duty to uphold justice for all, has, from day one of this crisis in leadership, comported himself as the president’s number one attack dog; harassing and threatening witnesses whose only crime was to dare speak the truth. Indeed, the circus in the cabinet would be comical if it were not so tragic.

Then there is the legislative branch of government. President Arroyo and her men have time and again said that she should be tried in the proper forum, namely the impeachment court. But the public has been made to painfully endure the spectacle of the palace and many of our legislators treating this all important exercise as nothing but a political game. If information from reliable sources is to be believed, it appears money and perks are being spread around like there was no tomorrow, all in exchange for killing the amended impeachment complaint; and as an “honorable” congressman commented, “happy days are here again”.

While the shameless among our legislators feast on manna from heaven, those of us who watch from the sidelines remain transfixed in an agonizing state of longing; a longing for truth and for closure. Our enlisted men are among the most damaged of all.

My heart went out to Captain Marlon Mendoza when he testified in the senate on how he felt sick to the stomach upon learning of the gravity of the cheating during last elections and especially when he realized how many of our officers had been used to thwart the will of the people. What made many want to weep however, was seeing how our armed forces was being used by the present administration to destroy this man for having the courage to openly condemn what almost all of them know to be true.

Here was a man speaking out against the exploitation of our military by those in power who had betrayed public trust; but instead of applauding him, they condemn him. What does this tell us of our men in uniform? What does it tell us of their culture? I would like to believe that the majority of our enlisted men and officers are still men of honor. What then might they feel today? What damage is this continuing scandal wrecking on the morale of our soldiers and young officers?

And then there is the damage all this is doing to our collective psyche as a nation. I cannot begin to describe the disgust and rage many feel every time we are confronted with yet another lie. It’s bad enough to be lied to. But the insult becomes almost unbearable when the lie is so blatant that only an absolute idiot would fall for it. Hence we are enraged and yet we feel helpless. But we can fight back.

We are a battered nation with very tired people where learned helplessness is the rule rather than the exception. But we must take this chance to unlearn our helplessness. This crisis, though maddening in many ways, is also a way out of the old into the new. It is a painful process, a purging in fact, that we must not run away from or turn a blind eye to, but rather embrace for all the lessons it will bring. Change is happening right before our eyes, although in slow, agonizing steps.

Let us be part of this change. We are completing some of the unfinished business of “revolutions” past and we must extricate ourselves from many of the ills that continue to keep us enslaved as a people. But to do this we must first be willing to honestly confront the disease. This calls for courage, wisdom and tenacity. Let us therefore pray for wisdom and courage so that we may see beyond the lies, expose the evil that men do in the dark, and cease to be afraid of the future. Let us pursue the truth with the tenacity of curious children.

It is everywhere and all we need do is look for it with open eyes and honest hearts. We do all this then we may finally see a new consciousness emerge and a new breed of leaders born; leaders who will bring hope and inspiration to our people so that together we may ultimately rise from the rubble. We do this then we stand a fighting chance.

Ma. Dominga “Minguita” Padilla is the President of Sinag, The People’s Crusade for Good Governance, and is a convener of the “White Ribbon Movement”. Email:

No comments :