WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. At the end of the day. By Gail Ilagan

 
Every time I saw another coming in, I got this urge to tune to Brian Gorrel's blog instead for a dose of vicarious bile. Rats. So much to do. And then it was time to do something else just to keep on top of the heap.
 
Sorry, laggards. This teacher keeps a sked. You might as well keep to my schedule for anything that involves me doing something for you like grading your work or something.

I tuned out that static. Hubby was out of town and I was a strung out wreck barely keeping body and soul together. There was stress brought by the heavy academic load. I was short on sleep and long on starvation. Throw in guilt for leaving the kids to their own devices. Sometimes they came to school with me and had to wait for dinner till 9:00 pm when class let out. I did not know how absurd my self-imposed cognitive boundary appeared to others until someone actually laughed when I said, "Get the book but do not speak or my brain will lose what it's desperately holding on to."
 
But one morning early this week, I remember I did have time to read an article on the front page. It was about nine Oakwood mutineers changing their plea right before judgment comes down on April 8. Gee, why was everyone so surprised? The defense, the prosecution, and the court all claimed not to have seen that coming. I texted some guys I thought would know about it and they did not know about it, too. It got them scrambling to find the day's papers to read all about it.
 
Hey, maybe it's just me who's still fixated with this thing. Evidently, the rest of the world had moved on. It's only been less than five years and I can't get anyone else to appreciate the Oakwood story enough to watch how it ends.
 
Really, it's no surprise that Milo Maestrocampo is among those who did a turnabout close to the finish line. I would have been surprised if that was Senator-elect Antonio Trillanes IV doing the honorable thing, but with all his unseemly antics and delaying tactics thus far, I have come not to expect that anymore of the senator.
 
See – Maestrecampo is unlike Seligman's dogs that developed learned helplessness because no matter what they did, they couldn't stop getting electrocuted. I'm thinking that the reason why those dogs gave up so easily was because they did not have tactical training. By all accounts, on the other hand, Maestrecampo had trained with the best. Unlike Trillanes, though, he did not train for the circus – media, political, legal, or just plain circus circus. He trained to be honorable in whatever battlefield he found himself.
 
Last summer, I had gotten a copy of Maestrecampo's analysis of military interventions, which he had been generous enough to allow me to condense for the Tambara. In that article, he tried to make sense of the forces that make soldiers like him take part in exercises like Oakwood. He also examined what happened after their involvement. As far as I could tell, with that article Maestrecampo wrote finis to that chapter in his life. He was a man at peace, and ready to move on. The only thing left to do was to make the end official.
 
Grown tired of the legal rigmarole that the group had been subjected to for close to five years, Maestrecampo and eight others reversed their plea. Who in his right mind would want to plead guilty to a capital offense? Uh-oh, let's not go where we're ill-equipped to follow. Who in his right mind would have mounted Oakwood?
 
Okay, there you go then. Same people, right? They dared overstep the bounds of sanity once, they could do it again. Well, you can chalk it up as insanity. Me, I'd prefer to call it resolve manifested twice. The first time, they tried to do what was right and ended up doing it wrong. Earlier this week, they tried to correct the wrong by acknowledging what was right.
 
It makes me wince in sympathetic pain for Senator-elect Trillanes. This case is not being tried individually per mutineer. I can probably look up the legal nuances to that, but the bottom line is that only one verdict applies to all. The fact that nine of your co-accused reversed their plea and admitted guilt does not bode well for how the judge would find this case.
 
There really was good reason for the senator to keep to the good side of his former comrades. Maybe if Trillanes had been professional in dealing with his co-accused things wouldn't have turned out this way. This case could have dragged on until the 2010 election, when the senator could use that delay to whip up in the electorate disgust at why the case would still be hanging.
 
The honorable thing.
 
To say the truth.
 
To accept the consequences of one's actions without prevarication or dissembling.
 
The honorable thing is so important for the professional. But it often is what makes other people say "Are you crazy?"
 
No professional should live through the nightmare of finding a colleague to be even just the very least bit dishonorable. I know what it feels like to find a colleague whose actions do not speak of the truth, who would wish me to just bite my tongue and turn unwilling accomplice to the lie. The honorable thing is to respect the truth and make it come out.
 
The prosecutor reported that Maestrecampo told him that "At the end of the day, you have done the honorable thing."
 
What does that mean?
 
It means that the prosecutor did his job. He told the truth about Oakwood. To all that the prosecution submitted to the court, Maestrecampo and eight others pleaded guilty.
 
And they say our legal system does not work. It would, too, if men were honorable.
 
Life throws bad breaks our way sometimes, but the man who lives by the Honor Code would see it to the its rightful end. He who could not, on the other hand, would most likely become a politician. (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).

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