To posture or to submit are second stage options. One or the other is taken when fight or flight fails. As second stage options, posturing and submission are not instinctual. These are choices we weigh after some consideration of the magnitude of threat, one's distance from it, and one's capacity to counter it. As survival techniques, either of these choices when taken may very well prevent needless death.
So when former Philippine Forest Corporation CEO Rodolfo Noel Lozada got an inkling that he was to face the Senate inquiry on the controversial ZTE broadband deal, he tried flight. He couldn't have helped it. The instinct to run is, as I said earlier, just that – an instinct for self-preservation. It is an instinct that makes evolutionary sense. One's primary duty is to protect one's self.
But in the last year, Lozada had formed a constellation of associations to the term dead meat. He got these words from the unforgettable phone conversation he had as he was traveling from Dumaguete to Bacolod on 18 January 2006. Among these choice words were: military, police, intelligence, FG, Wack-wack, and Mandaluyong.
"Senate inquiry on ZTE" just pushed the button on the specter of doom he'd built up in his mind. He ran.
Flight bought him time to be away from the threat enough to realize that coming back weighed more than ex-COMELEC Chair Benjamin Abalos' alleged threats to his life, even if coming back meant having to face the Senate.
So today we finally have Lozada disclosing. He is a man who has made the decision to submit. Having been subjected to the harrowing experience of expecting death anytime, Lozada has been inoculated against fear. The fear he felt earlier at having to face the Senate inquiry pales in comparison to the terror he would have endured alone in that car, outnumbered by strangers with guns, his life about to end any minute. In those hours, he lived the reality of the specter of his doom. He knew he was dead meat.
When one's choices are reduced to life and death, it's a lot easier to resolve decisions. When one is face to face with a potential killer, ex-COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos and his alleged threats over the phone are perceived as less real a danger on one's person. At that hearing we saw that the man on the stand was a man running on last reserves who had resolved to first do the decent thing before he would allow himself to rest.
We owe Mr. Lozada much thanks for his very lucid and educational testimony at the Senate hearing today. If it were up to me it would be people like Lozada who should stay in government service. He obviously knows what he is talking about, where the system is flawed, and what a civil servant should do to protect the interest of the people. When the system is flawed – like ours is – it needs people like Lozada who
won't let others exploit the system beyond what is appropriate. It comes down to judgment call. Until we get our act together and correct that flaw in the system, someone has to make the judgment calls. Would we want FG doing it for the rest of us?
Senate President Manny Villar tried to draw similarities between Lozada's NAIA experience and the experience of Ninoy Aquino a generation ago. There may have been some merit to the comparison, though personally I am of the opinion that imputing the Ninoy brand of heroism on Lozada does the latter disservice. It's a lot harder I think for a mere "Probinsyanong Insik" to muster the credibility to do
the heroic thing, but earlier today, that was exactly what we saw.
If anything, PI doesn't sound like such a bad word anymore. (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 firstname.lastname@example.org. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says).