SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: The jokers. By H. Marcos C. Mordeno

It was the least you would expect of someone who was a long-time Marcos-era human rights lawyer/activist and who, many believe[d] possessed a political mind independent of Malacañang’s. Personally, I expected that while the senator may continue acting like an administration ally, he would not be so brusque in showing his partisan bias. But there he was behaving like a mad inquisitor tormenting a heretic named Jun Lozada. But only the presumptive President’s stooges were amused unknowing that the joke would be on Joker after the witness mentioned the name of the senator’s wife in an unexpected twist.

Joking aside, newly installed House Speaker Prospero Nograles was also a human rights lawyer during martial law. And there’s no need to belabor on what he has done to his ideals, if there was any. So have other former activists turned on their vision in the face of subsidiary power, perks and privileges that have come their way. Some do it for survival, some for the desire to taste the things they condemned to high heavens during the more enlightened days of their lives.

Back to [the] Joker, was it not the senator, then a congressman, who boomed during the impeachment trial of ousted president Joseph Estrada that this country should not be run by a thief? Well, the Senate – and the whole country for that matter – is dealing with
not just a thief but a bunch of insatiable thieves engaged in large-scale larceny against the public coffers. But instead of helping his colleagues pin down the culprits, the senator is trying to block the exit way where they slipped through. This country cannot be run by a thief but thieves may run away with their crimes?

If it’s any consolation for Joker, he is the company of the likes of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile. Not too long ago, the two senators were among Estrada’s rabid defenders in the impeachment court. They are doing a similar comic act today except that they are now shielding the official who benefited the most from the ouster of their previous master: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I refuse to call these senators’ political behavior simple turncoatism. I wish there were a more shameful term, and etymologists should put on record that it derived its meaning from the acts of Enrile et al. That would be less degrading than having the word
“Filipina” defined as a domestic helper in a dictionary, although its entry may not be wholly malicious but based on a reality that has typecast the collective identity of our women abroad.

Nonetheless, I have much more respect for our women who sell their labor abroad in order for their families to survive. It’s not their fault that they have been typecast as such.

But Enrile and Santiago? They have voluntarily typecast themselves as defenders of large-scale graft, first during the impeachment trial of Estrada and now in the televised probe of the scandalous national broadband project, although Enrile’s record in defending crooks and bullies goes back to his stint as martial law era defense minister.

Imagine the kind of scruples – or lack of it – he may have if this is all he has been doing all his life. As a senator, his only moment of glory was when he voted against the extension of US military bases in the country.

As for Santiago, she started her political journey on a strong anti-graft and corruption platform and almost clinched the presidency. Yet she soon realized the convenience and rewards of looking the other way while the treasury is being plundered. Never mind the past image as an uncompromising immigration commissioner.

However, the biggest casualty among the three of them is Joker. He seems to be saying now that his life, like Enrile’s and Santiago’s, is that of a joker. Dig into his past and the meaning becomes clear.  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno received in 1987 the Jose W. Diokno Award for winning in a national editorial writing contest sponsored by Ang Pahayagang Malaya and the family of the late senator.)