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September 1, 2011

We Can't Handle The Truth

I was reading the news today on the internet and came upon this news article published in Yahoo!News-Philippines. It is about an alleged comment made by former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney (who is now the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand). According to the article, Ambassador Kenney allegedly wrote criticizing the move of the late President Corazon Aquino of allying herself with "more dubious political figures such as President Estrada" thus "blemishing her reputation as a moral crusader". Kenney was referring to the time when there were calls for then President Gloria Arroyo to resign from the Presidency due to allegations of electoral fraud. This alleged criticism was published in the WikiLeaks. Former President Estrada himself was ousted in 2001 by a popular revolt. During the said People Power 2, President Cory Aquino was among the "leaders", together with the late Jaime Cardinal Sin and leaders of the opposition. Erap was then charged and convicted with plunder. He was later released from prison through a clemency given by Gloria. In 2008 however, with Gloria experiencing a very low public rating due to allegations of poll fraud, Cory publicly apologized to Erap for being involved in the 2001 uprising.

Going back to the present news article, our current Foreign Affairs Secretary reacted to the alleged comments made by Ambassador Kenny, saying, "(Kenny) was a dismal failure in helping the Filipinos defend our democracy." Secretary Albert del Rosario also said that "it would seem that she preferred instead to be favorably looked upon (by Arroyo's administration)."

Now here's my reaction: Firstly, I am not even sure if Ambassador Kenny did make those comments. Even if she did, she is entitled to her own opinion. There are no "sacred cows" in our political system, yes, even the Aquinos. As public figures, dead or alive, they are subject to criticism as they are entitled to our lauds.

Secondly, I hate to say this but assuming that Ambassador Kenny did say such a comment, I have to agree with Ambassador Kenny here. In fact, I wrote a blog in response to the old article featuring Cory's apology to Erap. It is very odd to hear such an apology rendered to a person judged by history as a plunderer. Both international and local media listed Erap as among the Philippines' corrupt leaders. I am not saying that I am PRO-Gloria. Gloria may have her own faults as well. But that does not change the fact that Erap too was guilty and was in fact found guilty according to our legal system. He had his day in court and due process was given him and he was, based on preponderance of proofs, found guilty of plunder. To align one's self therefore with a person judged as corrupt in order to put down an alleged corrupt leader is definitely strange and even defies logic. It is definitely a clear case of "tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who are."

By criticizing Cory, it does not imply that we are ungrateful of her contribution to our democracy. She remains an icon of democracy. Cory is still my idol. She is albeit human and therefore prone to making mistakes. Perhaps one mistake that she made was to ally herself with the Estradas, at least that is my opinion, seemed to be shared by Ambassador Kenny and some readers in cyberspace.

The comments from readers reflect much of the general sentiment towards this news article. One comment read, "At any rate, wasn't it awkward to see former Pres. Cory beside former Pres. Erap in a Mass praying for then Pres. GMA to step down? on what moral plane did former Pres. Erap stand on to be asking a peer to step down? It's a crook heckling another crook!" Another reader wrote, "its her opinion and the opinion of many, and people are entitled to those opinions.. and if we are all honest with ourselves we will see what she says is pretty much on the button!"

Some readers suspect that the reaction made by our government is basically related to the present visit of Pres. Noynoy Aquino to China. The reader wrote, "Mahirap talaga mamangka sa dalawang ilog simula pa lang to. Kapag lumapit pa tayo China ng mas malapit ang kapalit sigurado mapapalayo tayo lalo sa US, nag paparamdam na sila. Nag tatangahan lang nalang ang gobyerno natin."

Another reader gave a different perspective to the news, "Pinoys are so emotional pag dating sa critisismo, gusto natin good views and news lang palagi dahil kung hindi, we cry foul and say we were treated wrong!?! Get over it Juan. Cory's decision to reconcile and side with Erap could have been the best move she could do for the Country during GMA's reign, after all, there is no such thing as clean politics, and Kelly was just giving her opinion as most Pinoys would do at that time, mapa pro-gloria or anti-gloria, and I agree, these enraged Gov't folks are just kiss ass to PNoy."

Perhaps the strong reaction to the Kenny comment is due to the fact that whatever she wrote, assuming again that she indeed wrote it, may have actually hit a nerve there. After all, like some readers note, Kenny did have a point there. While at that time, Cory may have shared the same sentiment with that of Erap (that is to bring Gloria down), it was not necessary for her to really apologize for her role in the 2001 revolt. I participated in that revolt and I believed that 2001 was not a mistake. It brought down a corrupt leader. I could not say sorry for having rallied against Erap at that time. Erap was guilty. Aligning with him makes it not only odd but very conflicting.

It is true, what they say, "Truth hurts" and more often than not we can't handle the truth, especially us Filipinos.


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