Death squads, one incensed reply said, are a figment of paranoid imagination, but God forbid that the recipient ever draw security detail for (unprintable) or nothing would be left for the paranoid to imagine.
Confound it, yes. Conrado de Quiros asked how to solve the problem.
To my observation, the AFP is on the right track, despite a few technical problems in methodology. Use the tools of social investigation to get a grip on this thorny situation that confronts the organization. Not to preempt the inevitable results to the faulty survey that the Civil Relations Service is conducting (no tool is perfect anyway), but I'm betting that the survey will yield a conclusion the AFP knew all along: The AFP is a microcosm of the Philippine society.
Question is, what then does that imply for the leadership? With that, the AFP comes full circle. After that survey, the AFP will have empirical data to validate that conclusion to be drawn from an analysis of the results of the special elections. That'll make its reality a lot harder for the AFP leadership to deny.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can well appreciate the AFP's public show of restraint and stoicism, even as most of the detention cells and command headquarters in the land were reverberating with the frustrated sounds of gnashing teeth as, with the blessings of Mother Lily the Mythmaker, the newest proclaimed senator vowed to undertake an investigation into so-called military death squads.
As the first official address, what in the bleep was that about?
Well, aside from the fact that Trillanes ran with virtually no political platform to speak of, it looked like save for getting Mother Lily the Mythmaker on his side, he was still kind of short on inspiration for last Friday's ceremony.
Yes, he could have talked about cleaning up corruption in government and the AFP. Isn't that his favorite banana? Strange how priorities change as one moves up in the world. Someone catch that banana quick.
Poor Erap. It looks like now that his boy has joined legitimate government again, he has suddenly grown shy of questioning the legitimacy of the sitting president. And to think that for the last few years, Trillanes the one-two-three-four in Roman numerals was the only consistent voice that kept that question alive in the minds of the Filipinos. But on the culmination of his crusade at providing a combative opposition to the One Who Yaks and Yaks, at the moment of his decisive triumph, he takes a left turn. Confound it, huh?
Or is it really a left turn.
See, on the surface, his call to mount an investigation may be interpreted as championing the cause of progressive groups whose ranks have been decimated by this specter called military death squads.
But, as the one-two-three-four in Roman numerals is finding out, just because he said he would doesn't mean the paranoid horde will believe him. Pamalakaya, among others, wants more than mere lip service. The Left doesn't need a champion, poster boy. It does well on its own in that department already.
But if he really wants to be friends, Trillanes' loyalty to the cause has to be proven over and beyond what he committed in public on his eleventh hour, beyond matters that have to do with military death squads.
So while the alliance might be convenient for him now, it's really about what he can do for them now that he's a legislator and not so much about what they can do for him. But Trillanes knows that already.
Think Boracay time share.
Still, debts to pay are debts to pay. And if you can cut it both ways with the same banana – oh why the bleep not? Something can be said for someone who'll use the banana because the banana happens to be the only tool that he can hold on to behind bars. And no, it's not the same banana. So, okay, he changed bananas behind bars. It's still a banana he's playing with, isn't it
Seriously, there are two ways for things to go in an investigation if ever there's going to be one. An inquiry into the so-called military death squads stands a chance of proving their existence. On the other hand, it could also clear the military's besmirched name in a legitimate forum and win for the proponent an open door to get back in the good graces of his estranged brothers. In the Bible, there's this parable of the prodigal son, and we all know how that played out. I'm betting that the one-two-three-four in Roman numerals is no David Hand.
What seems obvious though is that three days after his proclamation, the eleventh senator still has to set his priorities for his impending public service. He really should think beyond his obsession with plotting for his reelection because that would depend largely on how he performs – and for whom – between now and then.
I just remember that in 1986 the electorate from all over gave consistent oppositionist Cory Aquino the benefit of the doubt, performance unseen and untested, too. I also remember just how soon after that optimism turned into disillusion and how talk soon turned to cynical speculations about the view from under the bed.
The eleventh senator might be too young to remember this lesson from recent history. Somehow, as someone older, I just think that the lesson needs revisiting. Like, you know, be careful what we wish for or we'll end up with senators legislating from under the bed – er, from detention cells, I mean.
Oh, we got those?
Confound it. Well, what do you know? That tells me I'm still in my country. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected] "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)