The inconvenient truth about 'convenient documents'
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-12-13
During the Marcos dictatorship, the military and the police were often the butt of jokes because they operated an intelligence machinery that performed like an oxymoron.

Even then, in the 1970s, the military and the police were already materializing evidence of subversive documents anytime this became convenient in pinning down a target, their so-called enemies of the State.

Every time the Marcos news machinery announced the discovery of a certain 'Communist Master Plan' after a raid or an encounter, we invariably raise our eyebrows and say, "How convenient."

The more the military and the police did this, the more they isolated themselves from the trust of an already incredulous public. They continued to play the old deception game as though convinced that people believed them. Either they are really so dense or they think that their tactics are working with the masses.

However, it looked like their deceptive tactics did not fool many folks. The repressive Marcos regime had only served to inspire and embolden the Red insurgency. The military and police institution can only blame themselves for all the public cynicism, repulsion and lack of respect for the men in uniform that their taxes force them to support.

At the height of the Red insurgency in the early 1980’s, the Marcos propaganda machinery ran newspaper headlines that screamed: "Reds plan to poison Metro water." This was obviously designed to malign the Communist movement and the organizations identified with them.

Guess what! The banner headline hardly caused any concern. In another place and time, in cases where a trusting relationship between leader and people exists, that revelation would have caused panic buying for bottled water. Instead, everyone went on their merry way because nobody believed the fantasy tale woven by the Marcos regime and its military and police.

When the standoff at the Peninsula ended, the authorities announced that they found a document left behind at the Peninsula Hotel which is purportedly the master plan for the power grab.

This would, of course, establish documentary evidence to build a case for rebellion. Lawyers say that without this document, what happened on November 29 would have been nothing but an announcement of withdrawal of support accompanied by calls for the public to do the same.

Conditioned by the martial law experience, I instinctively raised an eyebrow and muttered to myself: "How convenient."

In the first place, how are we assured that indeed the document is authentic — that means that it is the purported rebellion master plan and it was made by the principal players behind the Peninsula standoff? If they had seized it in the possession of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV or former Vice President Tito Guingona — in front of credible witnesses — then it can stand up in court and we can all believe it.

I, for one, will admit though that such scenario building proposals are circulating all over town. Groups that are seeking alternatives to reforming the system or changing the leadership have such proposals to offer. Some proposals work within legal parameters and others outside of it. Some people even prepare such documents just for the exercise.

In fact, one such proposal for a caretaker government was discussed in some media weeks before the standoff and Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno even went out of his way to publicly deny that he was open to leading a proposed caretaker government.

Then too, what are the chances that rebellion plotters will bring along damning evidence to the staging venue — like some exam cheater's 'codigo'? While they're at it, why not set up a complete secretariat equipped with computers and all to ease the job of the authorities in figuring out their game plan and securing the hard evidence with which to convict them?

On the surface, the Trillanes caper last November 29 looked very stupidly planned and executed. If Trillanes and Lim are considered the best of our officers' corps, I'd hate to imagine what we will look like if we went to war with an ASEAN neighbor like Singapore or Malaysia! But could they have been that dense to provide the very documentary evidence for their conviction?

I am confident that this 'convenient document' will eventually be proved as a fabrication by a smart defense lawyer. But as a media practitioner, that consolation does not prevent me from feeling disgusted that here is another government attempt to fabricate evidence and fool the public.

I've repeatedly written about the information gap that forms one of the four big gaps (wealth, opportunity, education and information gaps) that sum up the Philippine problem. Historically, the government has been one of the biggest promoters of that information gap through its lack of transparency and its inclination to propagate cover ups and create scapegoats.

One of the reasons why we can't produce great leaders is because most of our leaders do not provide enlightenment, the hallmark of a truly great leader. As extensions of the ruling elite, our leaders propagate the myths that conceal the exploiters from the victims of systemic predation.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo