People we must now feel sorry for
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-05-15
Election’s all over except for the cheating. While elections in other countries resolve national tensions, here it rouses more tensions and triggers a national crisis.

Cheating in the 1986 Snap Elections led to the People Power Revolt. The expose of the Garci tapes opened a can of worms and plunged the nation in a leadership crisis.

Yesterday’s elections went down in history as the dirtiest ever, thanks to the brazenly partisan position taken by the Comelec (Commission on Elections) in favor of the administration. Comelec’s many transgressions on public trust included its wantonly obstructive tactics to undermine the candidacies of the Opposition’s Alan Cayetano and Jesse Robredo for the Senate and the Naga City Mayoralty, respectively.

A hopeful nation went to the polls yesterday eagerly wanting to resolve the raging issues that threaten to push this country closer to civil war. With over 60% of Filipinos doubting the legitimacy of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) divided between the top senior officers who support Arroyo and junior officers who have many times already taken the more unorthodox courses of action — civil war becomes a realistic danger.

As a people, we have a lot to feel sorry for.

First of all, we must feel sorry for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for failing to set the course for a peaceful transition of power. After holding on to power in 2004 under doubtful circumstances, she has not even arranged a proper and smooth turnover of power which could have left her some saving grace of a legacy.

Stuck in savoring the benefits of a longer stay in Malacañang Palace, she has compromised her legacy, perhaps irreversibly. Instead, history is left to record her tenure as one that spawned the Garci controversy and possibly, civil war.

We must feel sorry for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because she failed to learn the most important lesson of history: that success lies not in holding on to power but in using it to bring about a flowering of a cherished and memorable era.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had even failed to learn from the earlier resident of Malacañang who lived there for 21 years — only to become the most reviled president. In contrast to that, Ninoy Aquino never became a Malacañang resident but is now loved and regarded as a national hero.

We must also feel sorry for Comelec Chairman Ben Abalos who failed to clear his name in this election. After being tainted by the failure to computerize the Comelec and after being associated with Virgilio Garcillano — many of us hoped that Abalos would use the May 14 elections as his golden opportunity to redeem himself. Instead, Abalos dug for himself a deeper hole.

Another man we must feel sorry for is AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon. Like Abalos, Gen. Esperon is haunted by the ghost of Garci. Again like Abalos, Gen. Esperon only worsened people’s doubts about his motives and actions.

His orders to deploy troops in the Metro areas that happen to be Opposition bailiwicks reeked of partisan maneuver. Then he was linked to an order to ensure an administration 12-0 Senate victory in the AFP camps.

Instead of erasing links with Garci, Gen. Esperon cemented his association with the notorious election cheater. His actions in this election erased whatever benefit of the doubt people may have been inclined to give him.

We must feel sorry for the Opposition who failed to offer a clear alternative to both GMA and Joseph Estrada. They failed to appreciate the priceless value of a pure cause and settled for what they think is the lesser evil.

We must also feel sorry for our Church leaders. In the face of such predation, murder and exploitation, how can they take such a passive stance? Christ, after all, was the greatest revolutionary.

Not the least of all, we must feel sorry for ourselves. We own this country. But look what we have allowed it to become. Our indifference is the single biggest crime against our democracy — it had even allowed an illegitimate ruler to preserve her power.

It is tragic that although we already know what it takes to assert public will to remove an undeserving ruler, we now seem not to care anymore, preferring instead to suffer the indignities of our conditions.

Imagine yourself a homeowner who is suddenly invaded and displaced by squatters. They now live in your house and enjoy its many appointments and provisions. Do you just watch helplessly from the doghouse?

We have the means to rectify the stench permeating in our country. We know that all it takes is for us to unite in common cause and assert our rights. Yet we fail to do that.

We hope for miracles. We wait for the ideal leader — forgetting that it is incumbent upon us to produce our leaders.

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