Sunday, February 17, 2008
Make no mistake - assuming that Mr. Lozada is telling the truth, and assuming that he is indeed telling the truth for the sake of the country, this is a very brave and laudable act, for which he must be duly applauded. Yet if he truly has the good of the country in mind, I respectfully submit that the last thing he should be doing is lionizing himself, or making himself out to be a savior of the nation - and it's hard to interpret "I didn't know I was saving the soul of the nation" as anything but that, whether he intended this or not.
First, because it assumes too much. For all the fuss and bother at the Senate, nothing concrete has yet to come from his testimony. What that testimony did was to give more evidence to a belief held by a lot of our countrymen that, surprise surprise, the government is corrupt. The particular individuals accused of impropriety remain fairly well entrenched in power. Even should they be removed, the structural problems that allow for that corruption still remain. Make no mistake the testimony is helpful - but primarily only insofar as diagnosing the problem is concerned... as far as creating a solution... not so much.
Second, because it gives him too much credit. Again, consistent with the assumptions above, Mr. Lozada has done a good, brave thing. Yet even should a solution come about, it would be improper for him to claim even a majority of the credit. Should he play Chavit Singson to GMA's Erap, he would have been instrumental in her downfall, but would hardly be considered its singular cause. And again, even a change of administration will do nothing if the underlying causes are not addressed.
Third, because it plays straight into the hands of the administration for Mr. Lozada to set himself up as a hero. The administration has adopted the strategy of making the ZTE issue seem to be about Mr. Lozada's virtue and character... something even Mr. Lozada has admitted to be far from spotless. Statements like those he gave at the mass only serve to galvanize the administration, and aid in their attempts to divert attention from the truth or falsity of the allegations. Mr. Lozada's greatest gift to the country is, if truthful, his testimony. Any attempt to use public sympathy for his plight to heighten his personal stature only serves to divert attention from that testimony, in favor of an idol with feet of clay.
Again, I should repeat, that given the usual caveat as to truthfulness, Mr. Lozada does deserve support and affirmation. But the moment he gives in to the urge to make this about him, and not about his testimony, the moment he engages in the hyperbole and rhetoric of a 'hero' - at that point, he ceases to do service to the nation.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Like the vast majority of Filipinos, I was born and raised a Catholic, by a family for whom faith has always been felt, but lived. I was also born and raised in a city, taught by my mentors (many of whom come from my family) the value of reason, logic and critical thinking.
Ah, the olde Faith vs. Reason dichotomy, some of you will say.
Not quite. Think more Religion vs. Reason.
It is the Catholic Church, with its doctrines and hierarchy and ancient traditions, with which my reason struggles. Not because I have a little "Creationist" angel and "Evolutionist" devil perched on my shoulders and shouting imprecations at each other - the mainstream Catholic Church is not quite as literal in its interpretation of the Good Book (anymore) I think.
What I do have trouble with, is reconciling my discerned moral values on issues such as birth control, homosexuality and individual rights with certain positions adopted by my Church, and clothed with the aura of immovable authority. Even more difficult to reconcile is a structure wherein I can be told by members of the hierarchy that my discerned moral values are wrong, without engaging me in any discussion and debate. I've never dealt well with "arguments from authority" - just ask my mother.
One does not however, simply discard one's religion, nor can one shrug off as irrelevant the teachings of a Church that have passed through the hands of some of the most brilliant - and radical, for their time - thinkers the human race has ever produced.
What is a Concerned Catholic to do then? While many will have their own methods, mine has been engraved in my bones from years of Jesuit education: pull up a chair, open a book, read it, and discern.
Right now as my Lenten commitment (I hardly consider reading a good book to be a 'sacrifice') I will be trying to go through two "textbooks" that have gone unread for too long: "Doubts and Loves" by Richard F. Holloway, retired Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church. The second is "Why I Am a Catholic?" a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and one of the few Catholics I know who writes critical, researched books on the Church while still being in the Church.
I hope to find through Holloway's book a distillation of how far the general Christian religion can be reconciled with modern conceptions of values. I read the book of Wills to see how he answers his question... and whether such an answer will apply to me.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The use of the derogatory word "intsik" is not my real beef - there are many people who sadly do not even realize that such a word is a slur. (I abashedly admit that I myself as educated on that matter only recently.) In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that apparently the phrase “simpleng probinsiyanong Intsik" was used by Lozada to describe himself... But of course this does not give license to others to use the word - just look at how acceptable it is to use the "N-word" to describe an african american, if you yourself are not of a fashionably Denzel Washington-y skin tone.
The phrase “[b]agay sa‘yo i-deport, magulo ka dito" though.... well. That consists of at least 3.5 feet-in-the-mouth.
The first foot-in-mouth consists of the fact that it is logically wrong, an ad hominem fallacy, to reply to the argument (testimony in this case) of another by simply insulting that other person. As an Atenean (or so I've heard), Apostol should know better.
The second foot-in-mouth consists of the fact that it is legally wrong, since as far as I know Lozada is a Filipino citizen and not subject to deportation. As a lawyer, and as presidential legal counsel, Apostol should know better.
The third-and-a-half foot-in-mouth consists of the fact that saying such a thing in an interview with the media is mentally wrong. Given that you wanted to defend the administration Mr. Apostol, the last thing you should have done was something millions of Filipinos (in every way that counts) would find despicable.
In his apology Apostol claims it was an "emotional outburst." For someone who harps on Lozada's tears, I think Apostol should realize that his own lack of control might have done far more damage to the administration than an ocean of tears.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I mean, hey, it's a commandment right? Can't go wrong with them commandments.
Maybe though, just maybe, there are better ways to do it Mr. Arroyo, better ways to phrase it. I mean, I understand that you might find it difficult to keep from criticizing a less-than-totally-blameless witness bringing up allegations of corruption against the administration in a venue other than the courts of law and all...
... but hey, do you perhaps remember the last time a less-than-totally-blameless witness brought up allegations of corruption against the administration in a venue other than the courts of law? Sometime around, oh, 2000-2001 perhaps? Old guy, likes sunglasses, name rhymes with Tingson?
So. Three questions:
1) How can Lozada be faulted for testifying in the Senate instead of the courts, when it was the Senate who ordered him to appear?
2) Shouldn't the question we should be asking at this point be: "Is he telling the truth?" and not "Is he a nice person?"
3) How are Lozada's accusations less deserving of a hearing than Chavit Singson's?
And if you think the answer to number 3 is because the Impeachment was a judicial and not a political proceeding... well, then you probably didn't watch the same parts of the Impeachment that I did.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
A part of you has got to cheer for the reformed peon... but another part of you wants to strangle him/her because of how much easier everything would have been had that change of heart come a mite sooner... and one final part, one little rebellious Sweeney Todd little part, still wants the peon to pay.
I won't know if any of the things JDV will end up saying about the administration are true tales from the sordid underbelly of power, or spiteful retaliatory fabrications. One thing I do know though, is that I have three questions for JDV:
1) How long have you had "first hand and second hand” knowledge of corruption in Malacañang, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Cabinet?
2) Why are you only acting on this now and not when you were in a position to really do something about it? (For an example of what a House Speaker can do to a President he's not all that into anymore, please see Exhibit A: Manny Villar)
3) How do you expect us to view both you and your words now, when in effect you are telling us that you've known these things all along and yet chose to keep silent?
The real tragedy is, IF there is truly corruption in the administration and IF JDV really has intimate knowledge of this, he could really have been a true hero - a surprise revelation from someone presently (as opposed to 'formerly') in the President's confidence would have been worth a hundred "Hello Garci" recordings.
As it stands... the revelations will most likely appear to be just another smear of black in the war between the "alleged" pot and the "supposed" kettle.
I believe in the power of prayer. Honestly I do. But is it just me, or does it tend to get used as a bludgeon an awful lot nowadays?
(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Ah, sweet irony. I don’t begrudge the intent – wouldn’t it be nice if finding out the truth about ZTE was as simple as someone actually coming forward and telling us about it?- but I’m unsure as to why they can’t do their speeches and marching in public, and their praying in private.
And, yes, I do realize there was a lot of public praying during EDSA I. Then again, that would seem to me to be a natural reaction if you’re standing in front of the muzzle of a tank.