There's The Rub : Justice begins
Conrado de Quiros firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquirer News Service
HOUSE Speaker Jose de Venecia tried to be magnanimous after the vote last Tuesday. It would take time for the nation's wounds to heal, he said. But with the impeachment complaint settled, he and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (a phrase he kept repeating, "President Arroyo and I," an illusion of partnership he will soon be disabused of) could now turn to pushing the nation along. Before the vote last Tuesday, he said, Ms Arroyo could not do anything without constantly looking behind her back. But with that over, "President Arroyo and I" could now move on.
That task lay specifically in shifting the country into a parliamentary one. With a unicameral body, he said, all the problems we have now, including the problem of impeachment, would disappear.
He could never have been more wrong.
To begin with, if the congressional deliberations on impeachment are anything to go by, turning the country parliamentary is not a promise, it is a threat. It guarantees that mob rule, or a political Mafia, will hold sway in this country, squashing all opposition to it, the way Congress squashed the move to impeach Ms Arroyo. Of course, De Venecia dreams of being the "Don" of this Mafia. Well, he does not know the true character of the person he currently deems his partner. Or he lusts after power too much, he has become oblivious to the fact that he will get to control it only over Ms Arroyo's dead body. And probably not even then.
But more than that, he has never been more wrong about being able to move the country forward. It is not merely because he has always been confused about the direction of forward and backward, it is also that he deludes himself into thinking that the questions about his partner's legitimacy as President will now go away. Garci may have gone away, but not so "Hello Garci." All the murder of the impeachment complaint has done is to show that the law in this country is no longer held by the blindfolded Lady Justice, it is held by the very seeing Lady Macbeth. All it has done is to throw the question of an illegitimate President from the parliament in Batasan Road to the parliament of the streets.
Congress did not douse water into the fire the other day, it poured gasoline into it. It's one of those ironies that almost make you believe heaven truly intervenes in the affairs of earth. Clearly, the reason "President Arroyo and I" killed the impeachment move was to prevent a repetition of the events that led to Joseph Estrada's ouster. What triggered it then was the decision of Erap's allies in the Senate-turned-impeachment court not to open the second envelope because it threatened to doom him. In fact, their decision to not open it doomed him. Angered by what they did, the people took to the streets. And the rest, as the old folk say, is history.
To prevent that -- in the inevitable form of a new impeachment court refusing to "open" the "Hello Garci" tape -- "President Arroyo and I" stopped an impeachment from taking place at all. But as it has turned out, they merely hastened Ms Arroyo's doom. Angered by what Congress has done, the various groups at least, if not as yet the populace, are taking to the streets. It shouldn't be long before Ms Arroyo becomes, as the young folk say, history.
It's almost like that Arab story where a man is told by a seer that death awaits him on a journey to the east; he will lose his way in the desert during a sandstorm and die. So the man decides to journey to the west instead, where a band of robbers falls on him and kills him.
But I don't know that you really need to believe in destiny, or divine intervention, to see why this fate is bound to fall on Ms Arroyo. Monumental wrongdoing has a way of hounding people pitilessly. Wherever they turn, they are bound to meet up with the avenging angel. Garci may have disappeared from the face of the earth, but Ms Arroyo will keep running into him wherever she turns.
Some things do trigger it. The murder of the impeachment complaint last Tuesday shares one thing with the metaphorical murder of the second envelope during Estrada's time and the very literal murder of Ninoy Aquino during Ferdinand Marcos' time. It is a dirty finger thrust in the face of the nation. It is an act of overweening arrogance, saying as it does "We have the power, we can do any damn thing we please." No, more than that, it is an act of perversion, saying as it does, "We are the law, we can do any damn thing we please, and call it lawful."
In a country that responds powerfully to myth and symbolism, the image of Darth Venecia's storm troopers routing a small bunch of Jedi Knights holds boundless emotional provocation. I said it before, some defeats are shining victories. Some victories are merely the feeling of euphoria that people who jump off the roof of a tall building feel before they land on the cement.
Jose Rizal actually warned about it more than a century ago. We, Filipinos, have a threshold, he said. We can stand to have our bodies flogged, but we can't stand to have our pride pricked. The Spaniard, he said, had oppressed the "indio" [native] for centuries, heaping abuse upon abuse on him, and the indio had taken it meekly. But the Spaniard did more, heaping upon him the final abuse of making him understand that he was not only powerless to stop the abuse, he deserved to be abused. And suddenly the mists that had roiled in his brain disappeared, and he woke up from his stupor seething with rage.
Rizal might have issued that warning not just to this country's foreign oppressors but to its local ones. Nearly 100 years after Rizal said that, in "The Philippines, A Century Hence," it took on the luminous words, "tama na, sobra na, palitan na" [enough, too much, time for change].
We are hearing those words again today. It is the sound of a people rousing from stupor.
Impeachment ends, justice begins.