(Photo by John Pritchett)
13 years ago today, our nation is once again on the crossroads. In fact, I already am tired of that phrase. Ours is a nation perpetually lost, to say the least. In my 29 years of growing up in the Philippines, I have seen 4 Presidents come and go. The 5th's future is yet unsure at the moment, but I'm leaving her out of this letter. She deserves a break. We all do, actually.
Today, you spoke to the nation again as the benevolent and charismatic leader that you have always been. I was glued to the radio (I was on the road) as I took your every word - with that familiar, reassuring voice we've practically grown up listening to - and tried to digest the discernment you've just revealed to us.
Your son, Benigno Aquino III, said early this morning that you will make a statement on the current crisis, and that you "...will make a call for the President's resignation but it will be phrased in such a way that it is reflective of someone who is religious and prayerful".
At this very moment, a transcript of your statement is before me. First of all, allow me to congratulate you for calling for an adherence to the rule of law. Indeed, nothing will slide us faster into the murky waters of anarchy than a public ruled by a mob mentality. After all, People Power 1 wasn't mob rule and I assume ,since you were part of it, that People Power 2 can be described in the same breadth.
Magkaisa tayo but until when?
In your call for President Gloria Arroyo's resignation, you acknowledged her qualities and worh ethic - things that we haven't seen in her predecessor - and you asked "the President, in all humility and with full awareness of its difficulty and pain, to make this supreme sacrifice to spare the country from the violence that threatens it from those who seek in her lapses of judgment, not a reason for reform, but an excuse to subvert the Constitution, grab power and destroy our country.
The sacred oath that she and I took to uphold that Constitution by every means in our power, and which compels me to speak out today, now urges her to relinquish the presidency."
Let me slow down a bit for you, Madame President. Perhaps you may recall several instances in your own administration, say, the 6 coup d'etats perhaps. Many would call these military adventurism now but perhaps, had it occured to you that these may have been legitimate show of grievances then? Much like the Oakwood now, among other things.
Of course, I must admit you have been very lucky that history - and the Filipino people - have been very kind to you. We have collectively forgotten the following: the Mendiola Massacre, the disappearances of more people under your watch, your family's hyprocitical stance towards the Agrarian Reform Law but were just quiet about it because you were in power after all.
I don't even know if you should be thanked for leading the movement to oust President Estrada. After all, the poor guy hasn't even been given the chance to prove himself innocent in court. Trial by publicity, like we always say it here in the Philippines. He was already guilty before your eyes and the Cardinal's and you took no chance to express this by marching to Makati and dragging the partly-excited, partly-reluctant VP Gloria Arroyo with you in the hope that when she takes over, we can all move on.
People Power 2: still the Virgin's work?
Well, we may have. In fact, I have closely watched PGMA during her first few years in office and although I must admit she did dilly-dally a lot (maybe because you, after all, had always been her "idol"), I gave her the highest respect I possibly could for a President (not that I didn't have the same regard for Ramos but good grief, he was a total spectacle in his own right).
The past few weeks have been rife with noise of all kinds - people who claim to have no ambitions suddenly appear from nowhere and present themselves before the nation as our messiahs. For a while I thought that was Cardinal Sin's role in our lives, Bless his soul. And as the noise escalated to shouts of resignation, who else added their voice to it but you - the mistress of democracy, the mother of all that is good and beautiful in our land.
Somehow, I sensed a rather discordant note in that statement of yours. Although I agree with Manuel Quezon III that resignation is actually a legal course of action PGMA can take, I was thinking that she also has a right to prove herself innocent through the process of impeachment. Of course, it is lengthy. Justice in this country is always lengthy but whether it takes a month or a year, does it really matter? You waited more than a decade to find the truth about your husband's killers but despite what you believe, the truth has never been in your keeping.
Why can't Gloria be given the chance the American people gave to her classmate Bill? America forgave him and allowed him to finish his term - a period of great economic accomplishment for America that is currently being squandered by Bush.
What made you think Opposition, Inc. will not do this same thing to VP de Castro when he assumes office? And if they do, and since his rise to power is also "tainted" with cheating (yet to be proven, too), will you be issuing a similar statement in, say, 2007? At the moment, all I ask God and the Virgin is that may they never tire in helping our nation find its way.
Madame Aquino, you may have missed my point. Besides, I am writing this letter straight from my heart and far corners of my now-troubled young mind. In fact, I may never have the chance to edit it for intellectual clarity whatever but please, may I strongly suggest that in times of grave issues like this, if it does present itself again in the future - can you be less prayerful perhaps and think more?
Just asking. Yours
Dylan Yap Gozum