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Poetic justice in the Yellows vs GMA saga

POETIC justice is defined “as an outcome in which evil is punished and virtue rewarded usually in a manner peculiarly or ironically appropriate.”

That is an excellent description of the finale of the Yellows’ persecution of former President and retiring Speaker of the House Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Her vindication has occurred in a period when the Yellows that ruthlessly persecuted and demonized her have been thrown into the Philippines’ political wastebasket, viewed with disgust by many as essentially the anti-Marcos oligarchs’ bungling tools. She steps back from a political landscape — many hope only temporarily — littered with the corpses of her Yellow foes.

Benigno Aquino 3rd, who stole five years of Arroyo’s life when his government had her detained for charges that are now all incontestably proven to have been baseless and dismissed by the courts, is nearly universally viewed in the country as, if not a lazy, incompetent president, a reckless idiot who did nothing to prevent the massacre of 44 of the police’s elite special forces and a bungling head of state who let his foreign affairs secretary give up Scarborough Shoal after he was told by the Americans to do so.

Mar Roxas, who shamelessly betrayed her in 2007 when the Yellows’ lynch mob against Arroyo started, spent P1 billion to get elected senator, but instead landed on the 16th slot, just two notches above the formerly totally unknown Doc Willie Ong. Filipinos rejected Bam Aquino, the last hope of the Aquino clan for national political stature when as a sitting senator and a household name, he could have easily beaten the likes of Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa.

Last selfie with their admired leader.

I can’t help but use the overworked “karma” to refer to Serge Osmeña’s defeat. It was Osmeña who diabolically financed Pulse Asia (set up by Antonio Cojuangco and his cousin Rapa Lopa) to undertake an unprecedented kind of poll from Oct. 26 to 31, 2007, just days after people were barraged with front-page news every day of allegations against Arroyo and her family that are now all proven to be patent lies. Of course, the poll yielded the result, as banner-headlined by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “President Arroyo, the most corrupt president — Pulse Asia,” which even some stupid academics to this day take to be true, just because of that poll.

Well, even the PDI was hit by this karmic energy, so to speak, with the Duterte government recovering from its owners their Mile Long cash cow they had allegedly illegally held for three decades and filing tax-evasion charges on their other income-revenue earner. Why, PDI now has as its editorial top dog a reporter who strived to be fair to Arroyo when she covered Malacañang during her time.

Antonio Trillanes 4th and Leila de Lima became senators — other than the fact that the Aquino camp threw hundreds of millions of pesos for their campaign — entirely on the reputation they had built as the merciless persecutors of Arroyo. (What kind of woman would defy the Supreme Court to stop the travel abroad for emergency medical treatment of Arroyo, who had given her first stint in government, as Commission on Human Rights chairman?)

Not even the Liberal Party stalwarts bother to visit de Lima these days, whom even her boyfriend cum lover had accused of colluding with drug lords.

Trillanes is stepping down from Senate this month, hated even by his own colleagues and comrades in the oust-Duterte campaign, for having undertaken such bungling black operations as the “Bikoy” videos. He’ll be spending a lot of time, effort and money to stay out of jail, what with four serious charges against him: rebellion, inciting to sedition, libel and, most recently, for grave threats, filed by Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras. Unfortunately for Trillanes, Paras, a longtime politician who served three terms as congressman and is reportedly wealthy, is intent on seeing him thrown in jail.

I could go on and on and list the ignominy many of the Yellow cultists have gone through recently. The Yellows are history, and even they are no longer wearing their once-proud yellows shirts.

In contrast to her persecutors, Arroyo at this period has emerged triumphant. She has all but debunked the charges against her, and demolished her demonization by the Yellows.

When she was voted Speaker of the House of Representatives 11 months ago, Aquino 3rd jeered: “What could she possibly do in a year?”

A whole lot, Arroyo has proven, if the Speaker just works hard, isn’t vindictive, and puts the need to enact laws fast above everything else.

Since July 23, 2018 when she became Speaker, the House of Representatives passed 250 bills out of the 880 bills it processed and would have become laws if time had not run out. Among Duterte’s priority measures approved by the Lower House were: the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Security of Tenure Act, the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund Act, the Rice Tariffication Act along with various packages of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

The other major measures passed are the Universal Health Care Act, the Free Tertiary Education Act and the National ID System. Following the administration’s request, the House passed mining, alcohol and tobacco tax increases, reforms in property valuation, capital income and financial taxes along with the tax amnesty program pushed by the Department of Finance. The House promptly passed all the bills highlighted by President Duterte in his last State of the Nation Address.

How did she manage such a feat?

For one, Majority Leader Fredenil Castro’s description of her style is almost exactly what I witnessed myself when I was with her administration in the early 2000s. “She would pound on a House member, official or employee constantly to get updates on an assigned task. She pushes everyone to their limits, often resulting in a self-realization that one can actually do larger-than-life tasks that the person never thought he was capable of accomplishing,” said Castro.

“She is strict and a real hard worker. But Speaker GMA is fair. She is well-loved not only for being a motivating and at times challenging mentor, but also for being generous when it comes to compensating work given,” he added.

The pace Arroyo set for her colleagues even inspired them to be so hardworking that absenteeism in the House went down during her watch.

Even in recent months when all of the bills Duterte requested had been passed by the House, Arroyo was taking on a new kind of work, which was to find out how to make it easier to do business here, so as to recommend to the President measures that he can undertake.

One of Arroyo’s virtues that likely helped her achieve her feat is that, in contrast to Aquino and the Yellows, she isn’t vindictive, preferring to move on and use her energies on the projects she thinks would benefit the country.

Feliciano Belmonte, for instance, was the Speaker during Aquino’s entire term, practically his political lieutenant in Congress, who got the chamber to file impeachment charges against Chief Justice Renato Corona in a few days’ time. Yet Arroyo gave him the chair of the foreign affairs committee, which Belmonte had asked for. Ben Evardone was an Aquino cheerleader, yet Arroyo made him chairman of the public information committee, since he was a former media man.

In stark contrast to Leila de Lima’s regular, often absurd rants against Duterte, Arroyo didn’t say a word against Aquino in her five years in detention, and even in the past three years when she had become one of Duterte’s most important supporters — in respect for the office by a former occupant.

That’s grace and grit.

(P.S. Yellows who think they can make a dent on the analyses I have been making in my columns, in their usual ad hominem style of argumentation, almost always describe me as Arroyo’s former spokesman, even as that was a five-year hiatus in my decades of work as a journalist who got all of the four most prestigious awards in Philippine journalism. Continue referring me as such, please.)




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