Monday, September 21, 2009

Persecution and greatness

For daring to stand up to the plutocracy and its foreign overlords; for defying the rule of the hypocrites with his openness and sincerity; and for preserving the nation’s sovereignty by wiping out the secessionists in Mindanao, President Joseph Estrada was unceremoniously ousted in an elite coup more than eight years ago.

Then, for winning the moral struggle over that elite conspiracy and for marching toward full vindication in light of the apologies of erstwhile tormentors such as Cory Aquino and Bishop Antonio Tobias, the elite’s resentment against him simmered even more. Erap’s caring for the poor and the middle class, as well as, his preserving the coffers of the State against the oligarchy’s rapacious profit-taking quite simply dismayed them and their foreign counterparts no end.

Thus, for agitating the nation to seek genuine leadership that brooks no puppetry and for challenging the alternatives by standing for consideration yet again, Estrada is being persecuted today.

The conspiracy that deposed Estrada in 2001 has coalesced once more to thwart the will and wisdom of the people, despite some previous acts of contrition. That conspiracy, whose players hardly paid any respect to the supreme act of humility of their “icon” through words of dismay or claims of downplaying the apology as being made “in jest,” is set to stop Estrada’s crusade again by coalescing with the evil of the worst kind--the fiend of the highest order who figured in the Kuratong Baleleng infamy many years past.

Now I understand what some of Ping Lacson’s most ardent critics have warned people against. Although I’ve never given them much credence before, owing to the goodwill that Ping once had, I began to have serious misgivings about the man ever since he chose not to defend the constitutional order during Edsa II.

From my review of John Campos’ assassination, I now understand why Lacson was tagged in that murder, which also took the life of an innocent waitress, 27-year-old Emily Dumlao. And as I am now convinced that the murder of Dacer witness Jimmy Lopez three weeks ago smacked of a “warning” to the other witnesses, it now seems a trail of blood always follows Lacson wherever he goes.

Yet, despite this, rabid anti-Erap fanatics would rather root for their new man, Lacson, than give the persecuted Estrada, who has but a record of compassion, kindness, and magnanimity, even an ounce of sympathy.

It’s not that Erap really needs it; but their calibrated attacks reflect more on their character than the one they are persecuting. Characters like Rodel Rodis, who persistently dishes out falsehoods from the US --against Estrada, as well as, about the Plaza Miranda bombing to protect his icon in Utrecht , Jose Maria Sison--are just as vile as those who stand idly by while watching the extreme injustice being perpetrated. Political players who similarly savor the unfolding events for whatever reason without a tinge of indignation are just as cruel as the oppressors.

But there must be a greater, more transcendent reason for all this. As German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright Johann Friedrich Von Schiller once said, “… great people are always subject to persecution and always getting into straits.”

Always chastised by his mother and jailed by Marcos twice, Erap nevertheless ended up being Doña Mary’s favorite and soon got recruited by Marcos for higher office. Always subjected to persecution, the way Cardinal Sin declared “Anybody but Erap” and with the patent injustice from Gloria Arroyo’s kangaroo court, Erap still won in 1998 and graciously accepted Cory’s apology years later. And after being declared a political “washout” repeatedly, Erap still figures in the surveys’ top two berths without much campaigning.

Independent US political thinker Don Mashak, likewise, has something for us to ponder on: “Throughout History, Empires have persecuted the great agitators; Noah, Socrates, Jesus, Columbus, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, Gandhi, the US Founding Fathers, Martin Luther King, Jr. et al.”

Of course, one of the most persecuted Filipinos in history was Jose Rizal; another was Andres Bonifacio, who suffered a persecution more akin to Estrada’s--as theirs came from the ilustrados and the foreign powers.

What then makes for Estrada’s greatness? It was in his persecution years ago by the local political establishment of San Juan that shunned him as a “mere actor,” but which didn’t stop him from winning the TOYM in the field of public administration just the same. It’s in how he inherited one of the most decrepit of cities but shaped up its police force, cemented all its streets, and alleviated squatting through pioneered resettlements.

The mere actor-mayor thus became senator, then vice-president; then as president, made his mark with the largest margin of victory, accomplishing what no president before had done; cleaned up the Mindanao insurgency; integrated the welfare of the masses into governance for the first time; challenged the imperious authority of the Church on such issues as population and the legalization of jueteng; and thumbed down demands by Big Business of sovereign guarantees and public utility rate hikes.

Through it all, Erap has always defied the demands of the powerful in favor of the welfare of the greater majority. This defiance awed and disconcerted the powerful even more when he courageously tackled the threat of incarceration by facing the kangaroo court and winning his moral victory.

If Erap is again facing persecution, it is because he is living up to his greatness; forging ahead with his mission despite all the odds against him. I only hope the nation will have as much mettle and courage to win in this renewed battle against the persecutors of this nation.

(Tune in to 1098AM, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday with Atty. Alan Paguia, Wednesday with former Mayor Jun Simon, and Friday with Ver Eustaquio; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 21, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday on “Sept. 21 1972: Martial Law and the New Society Revisited;” also visit