SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Politics of avoidance. By H. Marcos C. Mordeno

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 July) – Former president Gloria M. Arroyo, ever the spoiler, rendered an anti-climax to what could have been a theatrical exposé of her unlamented administration’s penchant for profligacy and highly irregular fiscal transactions that left her successor with practically nothing to spend for the remaining months of 2010. Using her equally scandal-prone husband’s medical problem as an excuse, Arroyo chose to skip the first state of the nation address of President Benigno Aquino III to avoid placing herself in an awkward situation vis-à-vis what correctly promised to be a litany of her government’s brazen abuse of power and discretion.

While Aquino’s SONA sounded “bitin” (not fully gratifying) to some observers, it would have made Arroyo stage a walkout nonetheless. Better read Noynoy’s tirade from a safe distance than bear the televised humiliation of waiting the end of arguably the longest half-hour of her life, a time metaphorically longer than the flight to Hong Kong, although Filipino protesters greeted her arrival there.

Her deliberate act of avoidance would make one think she must have regretted having debased her stature as a former president by coveting a post in Congress. Subsequently, her son who held that post had to disgrace himself too by choosing to become a “security guard,” if only to remain in the House of Representatives. Tragedy after tragedy beset us when they still held sway. Now we are witnessing them perform one comedy too many. Should we scorn or laugh at the once mighty people of this country who find it all right to stoop to levels so low so that they could still cling to the semblance of a lost power they had wished to keep as a birthright?

Pray tell what dignity is there with a former chief executive being obliged to shout during roll calls. Place yourself in Arroyo’s shoes and imagine how it would feel to have your opinions and proposals subjected to scrutiny – or worse, ignored and dismissed – by fellow lawmakers who not too long ago came to you on bended knees for “pork” and other favors. Or imagine negotiating for “pork”, the same incentive you dangled to the wolves that are with you now in the House. Reversal of roles can be comic and tragic at the same time.

Ironic, but by holding on to residual power and influence as a lawmaker – maybe one without even an obscure committee to handle – in the hope of avoiding eventual prosecution for her misdeeds, Arroyo has only emphasized her current inconsequence. Abandoned – as expected – by opportunistic allies in the House who no longer find her useful, all she can hope to get from them as peers and co-equals now is ceremonial courtesy for a woman who once held them in their noses.

Ironic, too, but in trying to remain relevant to the affairs of state, she has betrayed the real state of affairs in her own mind – fear of retribution. Will she be able to elude prosecution and ultimately, conviction? Or will she go the way of ousted president Joseph Estrada? At least, Estrada may claim to have been vindicated in as far as the May 10, 2010 elections are concerned.

The next few months will give an idea of how effectively Arroyo can wrestle in an arena where the rules are set by a new president who appears to be serious in getting to the bottom of unresolved controversies during her watch. Let’s see if the Truth Commission will indeed be interested in the truth not in the commission. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])

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