What makes a Blue Eagle turn into a Blue Chicken?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-02-05
Senate ZTE hearings star witness Romulo Neri is a former Ateneo Blue Eagle from my own Ateneo High School batch of 1966. Neri was simply pathetic — very un-Atenean — when I heard him last Friday on Ricky Carandang’s ANC morning show.

Neri was desperately trying to draw public sympathy for being the subject of a Senate arrest order and for being labeled a fugitive. The Senate arrest order was issued last week after Neri’s continued refusal to attend again the ZTE Hearings and bare all that he knows about the NBN scandal.

From being looked up to as a bright ray of hope during the build up for his first appearance in the Senate ZTE hearings last year, Neri is now the object of derision for having failed to tell the whole truth.

What Romulo Neri did was to get the nation aroused in some sort of political striptease that only the meanest sadist would inflict on a people long lusting to know the whole truth about how their leaders and their closest kin are royally screwing them.

A person who is deprived of a long overdue climax is known to do the wildest things. The repressed passion could trigger the most bestial reaction and Neri is lucky that he resides in a country that has not yet adopted the more violent ways of inflicting retribution upon those perceived to have betrayed public trust.

After 9 years of being under Jesuit mentoring myself, what immediately crossed my mind was this: How could a Blue Eagle be so easily transformed into such a Blue Chicken?

Jose Rizal, Gregorio del Pilar, Ninoy Aquino helped form the Ateneo ideal of taking the ultimate risk for the love of country. Rizal, del Pilar and Aquino were Ateneans who bravely sacrificed their lives for the causes that they believed in.

In our history and character formation classes, the Ateneo Jesuits always highlighted Gregorio del Pilar’s famous last words at the Battle of Tirad Pass: “I am surrounded by fearful odds that will overcome me and my gallant men, but I am pleased to die fighting for my beloved country.”

Ateneans of my generation grew up revering the finest qualities of men like Rizal and del Pilar — how they yielded their young lives then bravely and stoically embraced death.

Sir Thomas More and Edmund Campion were two other examples our Jesuit mentors often cited. Both More and Campion stood by their religious principles against the Anglican Church order that Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I enforced all over England — under pain of death for violators of the Royal Decree.

I guess Ninoy Aquino was influenced a lot by the examples of Jose Rizal, Gregorio del Pilar, Thomas More and Edmund Campion.

My Ateneo batch mates and I thought that Romy Neri would rise to the occasion and uphold that great Blue Eagle tradition that our Jesuit mentors always hammered into our consciousness school year after school year.

In the build up to his first Senate appearance, many of our batch mates, through our egroup, were confident that the Romy Neri they knew (I never really met Neri and cannot remember him at all) will fly high and courageously provide the nation the truth that will set it free. His announcement that if called he will tell the truth bolstered that expectation.

Oh boy, how disappointed we were! What our batch mate Boom Buencamino had to say in our egroup is simply unprintable. But what Boom said was a fair expression of how I and many of our other batch mates felt.

We did not think that Neri was in any of the dangers that Rizal, Gregorio del Pilar, Ninoy Aquino, Thomas More or Edmund Campion faced when they made their heroic decisions. We felt that Neri will just have to live outside of the stinking Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government if he told the whole truth. They may have threatened him verbally with physical harm but really — would they have been that stupid to do anything to Romy Neri if he testified and told the whole truth?

I can agree with you if you call this regime greedy, callous, and vindictive but I don’t think they are that stupid. Even Joseph Estrada, not exactly known for deep thinking, was not that stupid to kill Chavit Singson after the former Ilocos Sur governor exposed Juetengate.

If his knees weren’t banging into each other so loudly that he could no longer think — Romy Neri should have been able to appreciate that his risk was nothing like the ultimate sacrifices that Rizal, del Pilar and Aquino had to make.

So, how come he failed to rise to the occasion? For all that greatness that awaited him, for all that service that he could have done for his country and people — why couldn’t Romy Neri give up his job and perks at all?

So, what makes a Blue Eagle turn into a Blue Chicken? Maybe it’s the fear of the greedy, vindictive, arrogant BLUE VULTURE.

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