COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
As I wrote three years ago that Gloria won’t resign at the height of the Senators and civil society’s desperate call for her to resign, indeed, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not resign. She held on to her post until she can make a smart exit of the presidency by taking the newly proclaimed president Benigno Aquino III to his inaugural. The former president, however, renounced tradition and did not do the honor of witnessing the swearing in of her successor, and ran fast for her own oath-taking as congresswoman of Pampanga for her own political survival.
Was President Arroyo avoiding a possible embarrassment at hearing Aquino’s inaugural address which proved to be an indictment of her administration? Had she honorably acquired the presidency and not through the power grab in Edsa II and the massive fraud in the 2004 national elections, Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo would have stayed for the occasion and be part of a striking historical event. But the former president earlier showed contempt for history and national sentiment, like wining and dining in New York when the whole nation was mourning at Cory’s death.
The inaugural of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III showed the national sentiment by the throng of people who attended the ceremony at Luneta and the millions who were glued on radio and television during those noon hours of June 30, 2010. It was even reported that there was zero crime-rate at the time the new president gave his inaugural speech, now delivered in Pilipino, and reaching out to the masses of Filipinos who can better understand in that language.
What appeared so striking in that 2010 inaugural was the presence of personages that have figured in our nation’s history in the last four decades. It must be through political savvy that these men have survived in the chaotic and ruthless world of Philippine politics. Or it must be that they’re simply destined to be great players in our country’s history. Or it must be that they represent different symbols in the continuing drama of democracy in the making.
Fidel V. Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile were two top officials of Marcos during Martial law, the former being a high ranking general who rose to become the vice chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the latter a brilliant lawyer who became Minister of National Defense. Both became heroes of the Edsa Revolt that toppled Marcos and resulted in the ascendancy of Cory. Ramos later became president of the republic while Enrile became a prominent lawmaker. And it must be fate that Enrile is in time the Senate president as to be the one to proclaim Cory’s son as the new president of the Philippines.
Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Jovito Salonga were two of the thirteen senators who voted “No” to the retention of the US Military Bases in 1991, a significant event in which US control over our government has been greatly diminished. Salonga was a top legislator and a staunch nationalist while Estrada went on to become president of the republic. And as fate would have it, Estrada was deposed, put under house arrest, convicted, then pardoned; and Salonga, to reach old age.
Benigno Aquino III himself appeared to be a continuity of a family saga that has influenced the course of our country’s events in the last forty years. His father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was a brilliant politician but undoubtedly considered a leader of the Filipino people, for his death proved to be a turning point in the fight for freedom and democracy in this country. The people rose up to topple a dictator and now led by Ninoy’s wife, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, our country embarked on a more participative form of democratic governance.
With Cory’s death and fueled by the excesses and misconduct of the Arroyo administration, the need for a moral leader in the person of her son Noynoy proved to be the nation’s urgent call. The people’s consciousness was revealed when they elected Noynoy to be their president. And like Cory, Noynoy looks destined to lead the country for a certain purpose. Even Ninoy’s death was also destined for a specific purpose for many freedom-loving Filipinos have died before him but did not make that same historical impact.
We are still a people that want to be led and our choices are still influenced by our past. Being ruled by the elite is a continuation of that master-servant relationship brought about by more than three centuries of feudalism under Spanish colonization. And the predisposition to see things as either good or evil a great influence of the Catholic Church. In shaping our nation’s history, we can see that the process has been more of undoing the past than charting an unknown territory.
July 12, 2010