Saturday, November 19, 2011

AMBIVALENCE


am·biv·a·lence

  [am-biv-uh-luhns]  Show IPA
noun
1.
uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused byinability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to sayor do two opposite or conflicting things.
2.
Psychology the coexistence within an individual of positiveand negative feelings toward the same person, objectoraction, simultaneously drawing him or her in oppositedirections.




I am taking off from the dictionary meaning of the term. That is exactly how I feel.  It is more of a collision of emotions.

I feel happy that finally a big fish is caught and has the prospects of landing in jail for electoral sabotage --- among other crimes accused of her as well as her kin and cohorts.

But I am not all that happy with the manner by which she was hauled off for detention amid loopholes, fast tracking of events and, worse, philosophizing deliberate violations of the law under the spirit of righteousness, zealotry and determination for reform.

Maybe it is just me. Or maybe there are also others.  But instead of feeling jubilant, I feel nervous instead.

I feel nervous because I know that if this can be done now with the justification that it is for the greater good of the State taking priority over the rights of an individual citizen, then circumventing the words of the law can be justified.  That is, deliberately ignoring the law (such as recognizing the autonomy of the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative bodies of a democratic government, such as respecting the orders from the Supreme Court, such as recognizing the demands of the State without any direct or indirect violation of human rights of its citizenry) or re-interpreting this in a manner convenient for the moment: these are not the manifestations of democracy, I believe.  

If handled clumsily and irresponsibly, a precedence has been set. These could be the preludes to giving ennobling reason to institutional crises.

Well, that is why there is a constitution, right?  That is why there are laws.

And when laws are tainted, bastardized and usurped by powers that claim authority, then there should be a proper way to correct it --- and not with compulsion branded as determination.  There are others who also agree with the "end" but could not completely approve of the "means" because they feel that there is an element of personal vengeance rather than righteous wrath in the flurry of fast track actions to prevent the ex-president from being wheeled out of the country --- wheelchair, neck brace and bad hair day.

Yes, we all have our doubts about the eight justices of the Supreme Court who approved of the TRO.  But are we really surprised that happened? We knew it was not only bound to happen but rather it will happen ... then there are some of us who gasp with utmost disgust. We knew that the past administration insured that the majority of the justices were her appointments --- and, you must give it to her, the Little Presidentita covered all the grounds possible in spite and despite of protestations.  Yes, we all screamed bloody murder when she made her midnight appointments just before she slithered into supposed oblivion ... but were we able to do anything to stop her? Nada.

And now that she is in this rather sad physical condition, the government is trying very hard to balance righteous indignation with public sympathy.  One thing you can say about Philippine politics, our sense of drama tends to overcome our hunger for reason.  

When the ex-president was wheeled into the airport using the front entrance and not the privileged areas leading straight to the diplomatic lounge, all sorts of telenovela scenarios exploded in the imagination of the madlang people.  There was nothing more dramatic than to see Little Gloria Shriveled on her wheelchair, wearing her braces and other concoctions making her resemble a piece of hand-carried luggage with wheels ready to be stored on the overhead compartment of the plane.  Mobbed by the press, she indeed looked sickly,vulnerable and pathetic --- which is perhaps the exact kind of media image needed for people to yield more easily to any act of forgiveness.  Is there contrition far worse than physical deterioration --- not unless the mob is demanding something more drastic --- like a public beheading by guillotine?

And isn't drama also a convenient tool used by the administration when it wants to get a message across?  

Isn't the insistence on the importance of mythology and the cult of personalities instrumental to the rise of the Son of Ninoy and Cory into his present position of power and responsibility?  Didn't media hype his role, putting him and his sisters in the natural order of Philippine history, to be symbols of reform and hope because of what their parents did decades before rather than what they have done to prove their competence or appropriateness in such roles? Isn't that whole mindset founded on tapping popular emotions rather than discriminating reason?

Again, there is nothing wrong with that. It only becomes wrong when it does not jive with what you have in mind ... or what you think is righteous.

Just for clarification: I am not an Arroyo fan.  

I never was.  Even if I was active in the anti-Erap movement which eventually ushered her into office, she was only there out of the law of succession and not by  deliberate selection. Well, even now that she is having her mug shots and fingerprints taken prior to detention, I will  not change my mind about what I really think about her.  Even before everyone else started questioning her brand of governance, I caught a glimpse of how she mastered the politics of compromise when she danced with the princes of the Church and condemned me as a pornographer for a film I made and was shown in Berlin.   Right there and then I knew that she was a brilliant but calculating woman who knew her moves and never leaves anything to chance.

True enough this let to her doing ... as well as un-doing.  True enough she is far smarter than an entire platoon of government officials (elected or appointed) who look like they are undergoing on-the-job training compared to the sense of calculation, precision and foresight this woman had about her political agenda ... and exit.

So I feel no sympathy for her. I am awed by her but I have no admiration for her. But I feel no happiness either for what has happened to her.

It is easier to let personal feelings guide how you would react to a given situation but any which way you look at it --- the situation is sad.  Years ago, Joseph Estrada was forcibly led out of the Palace then eventually incarcerated while Gloria Arroyo was sworn in as his successor. Seventeen months after her nine year rule as the fourteenth president of the republic, she received her warrant of arrest as she lay in bed in a suite at Saint Luke's Medical Center, strapped in a neck brace and surrounded by her family and lawyers.  Such is the humiliation even to do that whole shtick at the airport. There is such sadness in that.  

These are the men and women that the Filipino people elected to the highest office in the Republic. Thus the ambivalence.  No, maybe the sadness of what our country has become. Or what is trying to be. 


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