Response to Open Letter: Don’t Be Angry, Get Smart

Posted below is Manuel Buencamino’s answer to an open letter by S. C. Austero to “Tita Cory, Senators, Congressmen, Businessmen, Media people, Leftists, and all Bleeding Hearts Out There.”

In the letter that sounded like it was sent out straight from Malacañang’s propaganda bureau, Austero berates Aquino, et al for “sabotaging” the Philippines, declares he chose to forgive Arroyo’s Hello Garci act because it was what the bishops taught us. He also naively believes Mrs. Arroyo and company’s story about the Left-Right conspiracy, and sees nothing wrong with the current regime’s authoritarian tendencies.

Here is Buencamino’s reply:

Dear Schubert Caesar Austero,

I am angry too. Really angry. And depressed. I hope this letter makes at least one of us feel better. It’s honest. It may be too frank at times but we need to take stock of ourselves and the opposition.

We are facing a stubborn enemy. We have guns and the law at our disposal and yet our enemies don’t back down.

We tried to intimidate their press. We sent armed men to occupy their premises. We surrounded their buildings with “guards”, for their protection of course, but to no avail.

Our enemies smell our fear and it’s making them bolder. This is not the time to show weakness or lack of resolve on our part. We must follow Mike Defensor’s lead and say we’re ready to shed blood to keep our leader in power.

The weekend of the EDSA 1 commemoration so shook me up, I had to go back and read the March 5, 2001 interview that Mike Arroyo granted to Graphics magazine. I had to remind myself why and how we captured Malacanan. I needed Mr. Arroyo’s words.

He said, “I told myself: it’s now or never; if we lose here we’re totally destroyed and it’s goodbye to her political career – but if we win here, she becomes President! So we really fought.”

He reveals they were ready to shoot their way into Malacanan.

He said, “In every place where Erap loyalists had a force, we had a ounter-force to face it, with orders to shoot. And not only in Metro Manila. …. This was a fight to the finish… ”

Those words never fail to boost my spirits. It makes me feel confident, reassured that our leader will not go down without a fight. Read the magazine. It will do you good.

Now, we have to do a little constructive self-criticism. We have to identify our shortcomings if we want to win this “fight to the finish”. As Mike Arroyo said in that interview, “Panalo kung panalo. Patay kung patay.”

I don’t know why you said we are prepared to experiment with authoritarianism to move this country forward only to turn around and say we will stand up and fight when we feel our rights and our freedoms are imperilled.

Why did you try to disguise the fact that we want authoritarian rule but only under our leader? Let’s not be shy about our agenda. Shyness only makes us look weak and indecisive.

We should not whine either. We shouldn’t cry about having to suffer immorality because the opposition did not offer us any alternatives. That’s wimpy. And it only shows we are incapable of thinking for ourselves. It might even fuel speculation that we have some deep-seated doubts about our leader.

Besides, the opposition will say if we’re really serious and sincere about looking for an alternative, we would have looked for one ourselves. And they would be right.

We can’t claim our leader has been working really hard to move the country forward and then not offer any evidence. We’re not paid hacks.

Let me remind you the opposition has been working very hard to substantiate their accusations against our leader.

EO 464 notwithstanding, they have evidence that the Fertilizer Funds were used to fund our leader’s campaign, that our people made money selling watered-down overpriced fertilizers to farmers, that the military was used in the election and the ISAFP was the one that tapped Garci’s phone.

In light of their solid accusations, it’s facetious to claim our leader is really working hard to move our country forward. Who do you think people will blame for the country’s problems – those who perpetrated the anomalies or those who are investigating them? I know our leader is trying her best to shift the blame to the probers but are people listening or is she just preaching to the choir?

We could sell forgiviness if we know what our leader apologized for. But when Korina Sanchez asked her that question, she refused to answer.

She’s not helping. It’s not easy to convince everyone to give our leader a blanket absolution when the opposition is insisting they won’t until they’re sure she’s done with doing wrong.

What do you think? Do you think she’s done doing wrong ? Maybe it’s better to leave absolutions to bishops.

I also voted for Roco. But I voted for him because I liked him, not because I disliked the other candidates more. There are many people like me who don’t allow dislike to guide their choices. So I don’t think it’s a good idea to suggest to people they stay with our leader because someone they dislike even more might take her place. It’s weak.

We could say, “I keep the faith burning in my heart that this country will finally pull itself out of the mess ” and I “work so hard to do that”. But the opposition also says that. And they add they are not sabotaging the country because, despite being hosed and bludgeoned, they can still see very clearly that Mrs. Arroyo is not the State. Are we cross-eyed?

I’m not so sure we’re on solid ground when we say the opposition “has tried to prove their accusations all these time and they have not succeeded”.

The Senate Committee investigating the Fertilizer scam has mountains of evidence. So does the Senate Committee investigating the involvement of the AFP in the 2004 elections and the tapping of Garci’s phone.

We could throw dirt at the probers but we can’t dispute their evidence. And how do we accuse upright and decent gentlemen like Senators Magsaysay and Biazon of conducting hearings in aid of destabilization when we are not professional mudslingers?

Anyway, I was very happy when Mrs. Arroyo issued EO 464. That certainly brought those investigations to a screeching halt, didn’t it? And just in the nick of time too because those investigations were beginning to make our leader look guilty.

But happy as I was about EO 464, I couldn’t help thinking, what if ? What if, maybe, there was someone in the Department of Agriculture or ISAFP who could have cleared our leader’s name? Unfortunately, we’ll never know because everybody in the Executive Branch, including possible exculpatory witnesses, was gagged by EO 464.

Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I was disgusted by your cheap shot at the opposition. We both know the opposition is not monolithic. Yet you accused all of them of treason, of participating in an unproven conspiracy between Magdalo and the communists. That was below the belt.

Why couldn’t you be honest? Why couldn’t you say that some, but not all, of the opposition were conspiring with the communists ? That would have made your treason charge credible.

The other cheap shot I want no part of is the demolition of Cory with accusations that she is consorting with Erap and the Marcoses. That might backfire on us .

Cory might remind people that our leader gave an oriental screen from the Malacanan collection to Mrs. Marcos on her birthday and gifted Estrada with a golf cart on his. And the opposition will certainly want to know if she spent public funds or her own money for those gifts. And people will say she’s the one who really wants to consort.

Please don’t include me among those who say they prefer a flawed leader over scheming power hungry fools. I don’t want anybody to think I can only choose between those who will shit on me and fools who piss on themselves.

We can’t accuse the opposition of denying they are trying to bring down our leader. They are proud and loud about asking her to resign. That’s what made us so angry in the first place, right?

But being angry doesn’t give us the right to call them cowards. They stood up to Proclamation 1017 and the arrests and beatings that followed. I hate to admit it but they showed courage.

Let’s just stay away from name-calling because the opposition might ask questions that can make our dear leader look cowardly.

For example, They can ask : Why did our leader lift Proclamation 1017 as soon as the “spineless and unreliable” opposition challenge it before the Supreme Court? Why did she tell her Solicitor General to argue “moot and academic” instead of ordering him to defend her proclamation?

As to our elected representatives, we can’t deny that oversight is part of their job. And we never told them, not when we voted for them, ” you can’t investigate our leader”. We can’t tell them that now.

Anyway, I’m sure that like me, you prefer independent investigations. We wouldn’t want Gen. Danny Lim to investigate himself for attempted mutiny, would we? So let’s not applaud our leader’s offers to investigate herself through her own Presidential Anti-Graft Commission. It makes us look silly.

And let’s not argue that the opposition is “more dangerous and a more serious threat” than our leader because we would be admitting she is also dangerous and a serious threat, only less. If people ask, “shouldn’t we also protect ourselves from her?” , we’re f**cked.

Now, I give a f**k who is in Malacanan because those who don’t give a f**k usually end up getting f**ked. I kid you not.

I’m depressed enough as it is. My support for our leader is “waning,waning”. And you didn’t tell me anything positive about her to cheer me up. Instead, you chose to demolish the opposition.

Believe me when I tell you, it’s no good to make our leader appear tall by cutting off the legs of everyone around her. It spills so much blood on the floor, it leaves everybody too bloody depressed.

Manuel Buencamino

(Also posted at Uniffors. More on Asterio at MLQ’s blog. )

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