Saturday, August 2, 2008

Regret and Redemption

“Regret is insight that comes a day too late” is something that best describes my friend’s sentiment these days. As a Christian and adopted son of Mindanao who comes from the disillusioned Edsa II ranks, my friend got all the more riled up after learning about the GRP-MILF’s agreed postponement of the ARMM elections. “Nakapagngingitngit” (provoking teeth-gnashing dismay) was how he expressed disgust over Gloria Arroyo’s green light for the usurpation and land grab. All Christians in Mindanao , he says, are just as enraged too.

In between expressions of regret over Erap’s unconstitutional ouster, my friend pleaded me to urge Estrada to take the lead against this deal -- in the same way the former leader led the 1999 trouncing of the MILF, when the Philippine flag was successfully hoisted in Camp Abubakkar after its takeover.

Fortunately, this regret didn’t come too late as I was told, upon consulting President Estrada, that the agreement rushed by Gloria Arroyo, Esperon and the MILF won’t amount to very much. For one thing, one congressman explained that it’s still a long process and chances are, the MILF and local politicians are only buying time to perfect their new cheating mechanisms. Of course, there is that widespread suspicion that Gloria just wants to time the exercise for her Cha-cha plebiscite.

But whatever their schemes are, it seems President Estrada’s rightful place in history has become more and more etched in stone that even my atoning friend, who was once active in Cardinal Sin’s “Anybody But Erap” campaign, is now batting for his restoration.

Pulse Asia ’s July 1 to 14 poll on the public’s “presidential preference” shows non-candidate Erap second only to incumbent Vice-President Noli de Castro for the 2010 presidential elections. But what’s more significant is that Estrada’s statistical advantage over De Castro has now bowled over to the social class that once treated him as its “pariah,” preferring him over Noli and almost every other candidate.

This finding does not mean President Estrada is interested in running; it only indicates that if indeed the opposition cannot field a singular candidate, then Estrada can quickly gain the lead once he announces his decision to run, being within striking distance of Noli.

All this puts Noli in a dilemma because if, as expected, he is anointed by Gloria and Kampi, he will be the recipient of the kiss of political death from the most hated political leader of all time. And he would be more foolish to think that he can get support elsewhere.

The Lakas party of FVR will surely keep him out since from within, there are two wannabes, Dick Gordon and Bayani Fernando, who’ll work to squeeze out some mileage for themselves. Although Noli was a guest candidate of Lakas once, he never wanted to join as he believed he can win solely on his popularity. That may be true for a senatorial run, but for the vice presidency up, a party organization is vital.

Good thing President Estrada can still count on his Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and the parallel Jeep ni Erap, whereas Noli, without any organization, is just left by his lonesome -- a talking head that has remained so all this time.

What’s more, my friend, possibly mirroring the change of heart of some of his erstwhile comrades, is now a confirmed believer in President Estrada’s leadership. But it took a sea change in his way of looking at things to come to this, thanks to eight years of betrayal by Gloria Arroyo of the hopes and aspirations of the well-intentioned in their group.

Indeed, as James Joyce once said, “A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” And I see that this nation of earnest and honest Filipinos has begun to see through these portals. The only ones hard-pressed to admit their errors to come around and reconcile with truth are those, like my favorite anti-Erap nemeses Billy Esposo, Tony Abaya et al, who’ve made it a matter of personal pride to still demonize Erap.

This is relevant in that Erap is an important and unavoidable issue in any process of national redemption. I have held that if a national leader elected by eleven million Filipinos and officially proclaimed President of the Republic can be subjected to such indignity and injustice, nobody else in this country is safe from unthinkable persecution.

Hence, the summary killings, the regular travesty of the electoral process, the institutionalization of corruption in the judiciary (the latest evidence being the bribery issues in the Court of Appeals involving Meralco), among other things, have made this plain for all to see.

As long as the injustice against Estrada persists, the injustice against all of Philippine society continues. Justice for Estrada is justice for the Filipino people. To give Estrada his due is to give every Filipino the same. All the forces and personalities that have put him through his ordeal are the very same ones now putting the entire Filipino nation under the yoke of oppression, deceit, and exploitation.

Thus, the result of the survey exonerates Estrada from all the accusations against him, and by itself is already redemption for the Filipino people. If Estrada decides to run in 2010 to ensure the full redemption of the nation from the clutches of hypocrisy, perfidy and economic-political tyranny, it would be an end to the wicked years of Gloria Arroyo and the victory of the democratic weal.

To paraphrase Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient: “In the course of our nation’s history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fears and give hope to each other. That time is now.”

That new level of consciousness is what my friend, former Mayor of Quezon City Brigido “Jun” Simon has attained; as has the rest of society by looking through the portals of experience and historical truth -- to guide them toward the hope-filled destiny this nation deserves. Verily, Estrada and all suffering Filipinos are awaiting the rewards of that final, national redemption.

(Tune in to: Talk News TV on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 3, Tuesdays at 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Kape’t Kamulatan, Kabansa on 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; and Sul√≥ ng Pilipino every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the same station. Also, check out: