A former president of the republic is arrested, humiliated and tormented on the sole basis of the very dubious claim of one man: Norie Unas, Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s former underboss, who relatives of the 58 victims in the Maguindanao massacre claim was involved in the atrocity. Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife’s and two sisters’ bodies were abominably mutilated, said it was Unas who even deployed the tractor backhoe to dig the victims’ mass grave.
Yet Justice Secretary Leila de Lima calls it “a triumph of justice,” and this lawyer debased the Supreme Court’s image on the basis of the testimony of this massacre suspect.
“Drag her out of the hospital, crucify her now,” the lynch mob, led by the communist-inspired Bayan Muna, shrieks. Cartoonists laugh hysterically as they caricature a seriously ill person wearing a device that prevents her from being paralyzed for life or who may even be dying.
Schadenfreude, the sadistic pleasure over the suffering of others, has now become the ethos of this Christian nation. Rage has eclipsed reason, a mob’s frenzy has overcome decency.
The accuser Unas’ allegations? After a dinner of over a hundred people in Malacañang in 2007, he overheard Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo order his boss Ampatuan Sr. to cheat for her senatorial candidates in the elections that year. He overheard her, despite the deafening din of a hundred people talking in an enclosed hall.
President Aquino is asking us to believe that, already accused of cheating in the 2004 elections, Arroyo would order within hearing distance of others, a politician, who owed his rise to power in 1986 to Corazon Aquino, to commit a crime, and not even for her candidacy but for her senatorial candidates.
That’s it. It is solely this massacre suspect’s claim that is the “evidence” against Arroyo. No other witnesses, no other documents. The other “voluminous” documents, which the Pasay judge claims he read in a few hours, do not have anything to do with Arroyo.
With the plot to jail a former president undertaken on the second anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre and with the only witness against her one of that abomination’s planners, President Aquino is sending us a chilling, arrogant message: I can do whatever I want, as I have media behind me. I can even use the country’s worst crime ever, the Maguindanao massacre, to jail Arroyo, and do it on the atrocity’s anniversary.
This tragedy’s alarming aspect is that the media have been so caught up in the frenzy that they have abdicated their role of reporting and analyzing the facts. That famous formulation of the media’s sacred duty has been depraved to read:
“Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable.”
Instead of protesting why Mr. Aquino’s lone witness against Arroyo is a Maguindanao massacre suspect who will escape justice for his false testimony, the National Union of Journalists imposed the student-paper gimmickry of altering columnists’ photos to have their eyes closed. Instead looking like a morgue’s mug shots, these unwittingly symbolize a media seeing no evil: that of Aquino spitting on the massacre victims’ graves, just to jail Arroyo.
I will not have my eyes closed; this piece is my cry for justice for the 58 lives snuffed out two years ago, who are turning in their graves as their massacre is being immorally exploited for Aquino’s conspiracy.
Facts are being casually thrown to the garbage bin. A veteran columnist recently wrote here that “Ampatuan Sr. and detained Comelec official Lintang Bedol … said they were instructed by GMA to cheat in the 2007 polls.”
That is utterly false. Despite pressures on him to back up Unas’ claims, and despite his vulnerability as he is already in jail for the massacre, Ampatuan swore in writing that Unas is lying to his teeth. Bedol didn’t say he was instructed by Arroyo to cheat. All he said is that Ampatuan told him so, which the former governor denies. Both are among the accused in the electoral fraud case to pressure them to testify falsely against Arroyo.
An editorial here stated that the “charges against Arroyo [are] in connection with the alleged rigging of the 2004 elections,” the subtext being that she cheated to be president. The charges had nothing to do with the 2004 elections, but on the 2007 senatorial elections.
Aquino’s officials for 15 months tried but failed to fabricate charges of 2004 electoral fraud. It was only in September that they hit upon this demonic scheme of convincing a suspect, whose name (Unas) is not commonly associated with the Maguindanao massacre, to testify falsely against Arroyo, in exchange for his exclusion among those accused for the atrocity.
Hundreds of articles have been written on Arroyo’s arrest, on her medical condition, on the constitutional issues involved even on the kind of cell the former president would be put into. But there hasn’t been a single print or broadcast article on the accuser who triggered all these events: Unas. Why did he suddenly volunteer to accuse Arroyo? Was he promised not to be included in the massacre case? Is he even alive? Or is he already dead, in which case he can never be cross-examined nor retract his accusations?
A French politician is accused of rape and in a few days media uncover the minutest details about the accuser, which helped expose her as an extortionist. In our case, a former president is arrested for an electoral crime and most media men, even a senior columnist, do not even know the name of the accuser.
I can express the darkness that has descended on this land now only in Yeats’ chilling poem titled, quite aptly now, “The Second Coming”: