Monday, March 16, 2009

The power of truth and humility

For weeks, Gloria’s Justice Secretary has been firing up speculation around the return of Dacer-Corbito slay suspect Mancao by circulating rumors and histrionic news, such as the stashing of the deposition in a steel vault. With the witness still alive and kicking, and with such legal documents usually in quadruplicates, why should putting a copy in a vault be such an important matter? Rumors and texts then linked President Joseph E. Estrada, the bane of Gloria’s political existence, to the Mancao testimony. The Philippine Star’s resident Estrada demonizer, Billy Esposo, for one, texted Linggoy Alcuaz that Erap was indeed implicated. Unfortunately for all of them, a most unexpected witness, erstwhile Estrada nemesis, retired police colonel Reynaldo Berroya, has come out to vouch for Estrada’s complete innocence. 

President Estrada had kept silent in the face of treacherous attempts to sully his image by connecting him to the Dacer-Corbito case. It was only late last week that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada rose to defend his father and his family’s name, denying any truth to the insinuations. President Estrada himself finally spoke out and said that the Estrada family does not stoop to such deeds. Truth to tell, I have been going around among friends and acquaintances in different social circles, getting feedback on the Arroyo regime’s underhanded campaign to taint Estrada. One career government official and former newsman told me that Dacer and Estrada had always had good relations, and he also knew that days before Dacer’s disappearance, the two had met on the friendliest of terms. “Estrada is not the type,” many invariably opined. 

The big surprise was Berroya stepping forward to clear President Estrada in the Dacer-Corbito slay, a speculation that has persisted to a limited degree over the past decade. It is a very significant turn of events as far as Estrada is concerned and a very big setback to those who have long hoped to implicate him by hook or by crook. 

Truth has triumphed, as it has always had throughout the trials of Estrada in and outside the court. Although I still can’t fathom why Berroya would come to the defense of someone whom he once had accused of unjustly persecuting and prosecuting him, and sending him to prison. 

One said that Berroya is simply narrowing down the target to his greater nemesis, a former colleague in the police force and the Philippine Military Academy--his tormentor Sen. Ping Lacson. But I argued, that still does not explain why Berroya had to go out of his way to help Estrada clear his name. Linggoy Alcuaz opined that it may be because Berroya is investing in goodwill with President Estrada in case the latter really does get back to power in the 2010 elections. But Estrada is not yet a clear frontrunner as he was in the 1998 elections, so isn’t Berroya betting too early in the game? Or could it be that the power of truth and Estrada’s humility simply had something to do with it? 

The past decade chronicled President Joseph E. Estrada’s rise and fall, demonization and reconstitution, exaltation and humiliation, incarceration and liberation. The final outcome of it all, though, has been the triumph of truth--that Estrada was not only not as bad as his rabid detractors made him out to be, or that Gloria Arroyo and many others turned out to be worse, but that he is actually better than most ever thought he could ever be. A string of “mea culpas” started with Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias’ birthday mass for Erap in April 2006, six years after his incarceration, which was followed by many others, and climaxed with President Cory Aquino’s apology to Erap at Joe de Venecia’s book launching recently. Estrada’s truth became a beacon for honest hearts because Erap’s humility disarms even those who otherwise would have remained his enemies. 
Erap’s humility was born of his exultant rise and ignominious fall, and final vindication by his unflinching faith in truth and justice. “Six years and six months,” Estrada would often say--that was how long he was incarcerated. Yet it was the price he had to pay for his humility, made even worse because his son had to join him in detention for several years, with his family insulted and disgraced without justifiable cause. Rage gave way to enlightenment over the years, and Estrada, upon reflecting on the past, would often say: “I was overconfident.” Enlightenment then became forgiveness, which grew to become humility, and such humility made even his sworn critics laugh at his self-deprecating humor, and melted even the hardest of hearts. Maybe Berroya is just like the rest of those who have been touched by this and succumbed to the plea of truth, to speak it and save the innocent. 

In the months to come, we will be facing an opportunity for peaceful change and transition toward a new government leadership. I don’t know what better leader this nation can have than one who has shown and shared the power of humility with the rest of the nation--healing it with the balm of truth and compassion--while promising wisdom not only in our disengagement from the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, but also in our quashing of the decades-long plutocracy of the global and local oligarchy. I hope we shall have in the nation’s service, this wisdom and power from truth and humility, to prevent the redux of a younger Gloria Arroyo by way of a plutocracy-backed puppet. 

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