Mike Arroyo’s big problem isn’t Alan Cayetano
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-01-30
I should be angry with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo for suing me. Mike filed a libel suit against me for a column that was posted on INQ7 three years ago titled "How do you solve a problem like Mike Arroyo." But watching his face-off last Wednesday with Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano over the German bank account issue, I couldn’t help feeling pity for a fellow heavyweight.

Until someone proves otherwise, Mike is entitled to the basic and humane tenet of presumption of innocence. We cannot begrudge Mike for wanting to clear his name. Everyone is entitled to do that. It is natural as it is legal. The desire is inherent in both the good and not-so-good individuals.

That desire is more intense in our largely hypocritical society where political pimps are in high places, the law profession and in media and are there primarily to extol the non-existent virtues of their clients, the political harlots.

Indeed, our political dynamics is aptly called Harlot Politics. Both the administration and opposition subscribe to it. Just six years ago, then Senator Loren Legarda tried to advance her political career by prosecuting then President Joseph Estrada who is now awaiting court verdict for those charges. Today, she is cozying up to Estrada in her comeback bid.

In our part of the world, the guilty likes to assume the posture of the guiltless, living by the terrorist strategy of "a good offense is the best defense." Over here, the biggest crooks, murderers and what not like to appear more "Popish than the Pope."

In contrast, we have seen how disgraced crooks and presidents in South Korea faced their fate with a deep sense of humiliation and shame when truth and justice finally caught up with them.

On this German bank account issue, I am not sure if Mike realizes that the very people who are trying to help him in these hearings are the same congressmen who had played blind to public opinion when they brazenly pushed for the convening of a unilateral Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) last month.

I wonder if Mike realizes that this altogether political matter plays out in the Court of Public Opinion, rather than a court of law where legal arguments matter. In the Court of Public Opinion, the public is the jury and the judge. Their verdict will depend on the credibility and respect they have for the advocates and the persons under scrutiny.

Without even venturing an opinion on who is the more credible of the two – Mike and Representative Alan Cayetano – I think that Mike’s cause is greatly weighed down by the baggage that his defenders in Congress carry.

The unabashed way they tried to push for Con-Ass a month ago had put an added millstone round these congressmen’s necks. Already bearing the deadweight of past election defeats and public repudiation in surveys, it is hard to say at this point what will make these so-called lawmakers deal with the reality of their lost credibility.

That is referring only to the public image of the defenders of Mike Arroyo in Congress. Now as to how they are going about their business of trying to defend him – that is another big blow to Mike’s own efforts to clear his name.

Mike would do himself a favor if he reviewed the ANC tapes of the proceedings that featured him and Alan Cayetano and additionally the ANC tapes of the Con-Ass proceedings last December. I thought I saw the same faces – at least Representative Louie Villafuerte stood out in both – and the same overbearing, high-handed methods being applied.

Mike is no political neophyte. He understands the nuances of the verbal and non-verbal aspects of communications and how the non-verbal can create an even greater influence in the forming of public perception and opinion.

In fact, his wife, Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has benefited greatly from such an adept utilization of subtly crafted non-verbal messages. To appreciate the point, just go back to the 1995 senatorial campaign which Madame Gloria topped.

Without really saying anything earth shaking, Madame Gloria garnered the most number of votes in the 1995 Senate race owing largely to those full-color "La Aunor" posters which used photos I believe Mike himself took. The same method was successfully applied in Madame Arroyo’s successful bid for the Vice Presidency in 1998.

Up to now, Madame Gloria’s communication thrust continues to focus on non-verbals. She may say and do the most revolting things but she will not tolerate a bad photo or video.

Mike has been in the inner sanctum of Madame Gloria’s campaign planning and implementation and knows his political ABCs. He should not overlook how the public will perceive the scenes caught on television – the sight of a lone, besieged young congressman versus the very same congressmen who tried to bully the nation into swallowing Con-Ass.

The fact that Representative Alan Cayetano stood up last December against the Con-Ass bullies would tend to sway public sympathy in his favor. Alan is one gifted communicator who can superbly manage conditions to his advantage. Every attempt to gag him or railroad his ouster – the obvious goal of the congressional Ethics Committee probe – adds more points in his favor.

If Alan can keep these proceedings going for a few more months, he might even top the May Senate race and who knows – beat Manny Villar, Mar Roxas and Dick Gordon to the 2010 presidency!

Everyone loves to cheer for the underdog. The inclination is even greater among Filipinos who cannot help but to empathize with the underdog. After all, the majority of Filipinos are true-to-life underdogs.

The appeal of the underdog is what made Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ) the King of Philippine movies. In his movies, FPJ – just like what is said of the British Empire – has the knack of losing every battle except the final one. The appeal of the underdog is also the same successful formula of those Sylvester Stallone big movie hits, Rocky and Rambo.

Poor Mike. With friends like those congressmen defending him, who needs Ramon Tulfo?

  Previous Columns:

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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