A fate worse than impeachment can befall GMA and Merci
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-03-29
“Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” is traced to the Greek play Medea by Euripedes. In the play, Medea went mad and destroyed her own children just to exact retribution on her lover. “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” has since been adopted to allude to those who engineer their own downfall by acts that are irrational or bordering on madness.

The August 21, 1983 assassination of Ninoy Aquino can be considered a “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” moment of the Ferdinand Marcos regime. An assassinated Ninoy became a worse scourge to Marcos than if they had just kept him alive and in detention.

The refusal of the then Senate majority to open the Jose Velarde envelop during the President Joseph Estrada Impeachment Trial of 2000-2001 can also be considered another “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” moment. As it turned out, the Jose Velarde envelop was not that damaging but by refusing to open it during the trial – they unleashed People Power II.

The turn of events surrounding the forthcoming impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez strikes your Chair Wrecker as a “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” moment that is about to unfold.

The recent reported 2 a.m. visit of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to the residence of Merci Gutierrez — two hours after her Tuesday midnight impeachment was decided by the House of Representatives with a vote of 212 for, 46 against and four abstained — simply borders on madness. The core of the issues against Merci is that she betrayed public trust by protecting GMA and her ilk against prosecution. The last thing Merci needed after being impeached by the House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote is a visit from GMA which further reinforces the negative public perception.

Whether it was a gesture of sympathy made by GMA for her alleged protector or something deeper than that is now fueling the very perception that is condemning Merci. Your Chair Wrecker was informed by a GMA camp insider that there was a serious concern that Merci might decide to resign after the Congress show of force. The concern is that if Merci resigns in order to avoid further embarrassment and vilification — a replacement, assumed hostile, Ombudsman will prosecute GMA and her ilk.

If that was the reason for the visit, then it’s likely another stage of development in the “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” moment. A clear, sober mind, that’s clear from the influence of brandy and sans the dark side of a suicidal personality, would have seen that resignation on the part of Merci was the best recourse.

Are GMA and Merci ignorant of historical precedents and the potential of unforeseen forces coming into play during an impeachment trial? Considering all the big issues of the GMA regime that are begging for closure — this impeachment trial will be viewed by most Filipinos as a proxy trial for GMA.

If GMA thinks that she can easily influence the required number of Senators to acquit Merci, then she’s in for a big shock. Said to be pro-Merci, Sen. Bong Revilla is aiming for a higher public office and he would certainly think twice before joining the wrong side of history. Another, Sen. Migz Zubiri is up for reelection in 2013 and he wouldn’t want to have to defend casting an acquit Merci vote, if ever.

They are going to conduct this impeachment trial at a time when the administration is against them and when President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) is at the peak of his popularity. Joseph Estrada, the defendant in the 2000-2001 impeachment trial, was in power and that did not prevent his ouster.

Merci is lucky that Supreme Court Chief Justice Rene Corona will not be the presiding judge in her impeachment trial because that would have been another complicating factor. Whether deserved or not, there is wide public perception that Chief Justice Corona is another protector of GMA. His mere presence in the trial might fuel public anger and determination to exact closure to all the GMA scandals and issues.

Those slated by the gods for destruction may have overlooked in their moment of madness that their imagined best case scenario — a Senate acquittal — could become their greatest nightmare. Going by historical precedents, what is to prevent the people’s frustration — if Merci is indeed acquitted by the Senate – from bringing the issue again to the streets? If people dared to defy a sitting president in 2001 to stage People Power II, what would prevent them from doing the same now when there is a sitting president who is sympathetic to their cause?

Because of the corruption scandals in the armed forces that have been exposed in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee — the military has a big stake in this process. We have all the ingredients for a perfect political storm.

Obviously, another People Power exercise isn’t going to be launched to remove P-Noy. Rather, it will be to remove the obstacles that deter P-Noy from paving the DAANG TUWID (straight path) all Filipinos want.

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