There's The Rub : Reminders
Conrado de Quiros firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquirer News Service
I THANK Mike Defensor most sincerely for two things.
The first is for proving what I said a couple of weeks ago, which is that this government has ground to a halt. The problem with governing a country that doesn't like you, I said then, is that you can't. All you'll be able to do is keep in survival mode: You won't be able to "stay the course," as GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) likes to put it, you will be thankful just to be able to stay. All you'll be able to do is conduct a loyalty check on your people. All you'll be able to do is have secretaries whose first duty is not to run their departments but to try to keep you alive.
But to his credit, or discredit, depending on how you see it, Defensor goes well over and beyond the line of duty. Enough to dismay even Prospero Pichay, GMA's loyal servant in the House of Representatives. Commenting on Defensor's presentation about the "Hello Garci" tape being doctored, he expostulates: "Defensor should be concentrating on the environment department's reforestation program instead of trying to prove himself a sound expert. In the first place, investigating the authenticity of the tape is the work of the NBI. It is not his job to do that."
One might say the same thing about Pichay. His job is to help make laws, not to help keep a putative President. His job is to serve his constituents in Surigao, not to serve a master in Malacañang. But we may let that pass, he has done us the favor of showing exactly the direction his favorite government is going, which isn't horizontal.
But I am more sincerely grateful to Defensor for the second thing. That is bringing back to public focus the "Hello Garci" tape. That is the heart of the matter. I wasn't being facetious when I wrote that column on the state of the nation that said only two words throughout, "Hello" and "Garci." I meant every word I said. That is the only issue that needs resolving today, everything else is secondary and/or extraneous: Charter change, reform, who or what should take the place of GMA, jueteng, even impeachment. The central issue is legitimacy. The question is not how well or badly GMA rules. The question is whether she has the right to rule. The question is whether she is the President of the Philippines. The question is whether she has a mandate from the governed.
That is the heart of the matter. That is the state of the nation. We do not have a legitimate President ruling us.
That, of course, is the one thing GMA and her cohorts have been desperately trying to put a distance from. "I want to close this chapter and move on," GMA herself said in her speech admitting she was the voice on the tape, as though one can admit to murder and charge it to experience. Well, what she wants and what she'll get are two different things. Her cohorts of course—not the least of them Fidel Ramos, who is still around today because Paul Laxalt told Marcos, "Cut and cut cleanly"—have tried to help her get what she wants. And for a while, this forgetful country truly seemed destined to forget that GMA ever said hello to Garci.
My monumental thanks to Mike Defensor for reminding this nation she did. I can understand why Pichay should be so pissed off. It's enough to make you believe God truly works in mysterious ways. Or that people are really meant to serve a useful purpose in life, even if they themselves do not know how.
It's a case where the medium is the message. The contents of Defensor's defense we may safely forget. It is based on the word of a self-proclaimed Filipino computer expert who is facing several charges of murder, estafa and extortion, according to Angelo Reyes; and an American who himself finds his findings inconclusive and is not averse to retracting them upon examination of the "mother of all tapes." He admits he does not understand Tagalog and has no way of ascertaining whether the tape was tampered with or merely edited.
In fact, no one has made a more ironclad case for the veracity of the tape than GMA herself when she apologized for it. There, too, my monumental thanks go to Dinky Soliman and company—it is enough to make you believe people serve a useful purpose in life unbeknownst to them—when they convinced her, while completely believing in her cause, that it would serve her best to own up to her crime. GMA never denied that she spoke with Garci about the election results—"I was anxious to protect my votes during that time." She never denied the contents of the tape, she never referred to any portion of it being doctored. You know you're being falsely accused of a crime, you will not relent and apologize, you will stand your ground and face your accusers.
GMA's confession by itself is proof of a crime. Whether the tape is doctored or not can only show the extent of the crime, it can never refute the existence of the crime. The law is clear: No candidate may talk to an election official about election results, least of all the President, as no conversation of that sort may ever be presumed to be innocent. No one may do that and go on to become this country's most powerful figure, the one person set up for the people's—especially the youth's—emulation. What GMA did, as any public school teacher will tell you, is cheating plain and simple. What GMA did, as any ordinary citizen will tell you, is not a cause for reward, it is a cause for punishment. What GMA did, as the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines will tell you, is not a basis for going to Malacañang, it is a basis for going to Muntinlupa.
Again, I must thank Mike Defensor most profoundly for reminding us of the Garci tape and what it most profoundly signifies:
We have no President in this country.