• Gloria and Noynoy stage ‘Les Miserables’ minus the music


    THE intertwined lives of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno BS Aquino 3rd strangely mirror the lead characters in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables—the hero Jean Valjean and his obsessed tormentor, Javert.

    In this Filipino version of the classic novel and musical, Gloria is the victim, and Noynoy is her implacable tormentor. Even a grade school student can immediately tell who is the heroine and who is the villain.

    The local version is destined to be poster-ized and remembered, because the real-life protagonists happen to be former Presidents of the Philippines and members of the Filipino oligarchy.

    This long-running tale has stretched on for four years like a telenovela, and would have gone on further had the Supreme Court not stepped in this week to pronounce Arroyo innocent of the charges Aquino filed against her, and order her immediate release.

    Arroyo as trophy prisoner
    When I first wrote about the plight of Arroyo under the administration of Aquino (“Gloria Arroyo: Aquino’s trophy prisoner,” Manila Times, Dec. 25, 2013), I essayed the view that she had become a trophy prisoner of Aquino—a revenge object to display to the nation and the world, as proof of the potency of his campaign against corruption.

    I wrote then:
    “The idea that she is a trophy prisoner struck a chord because as far back as I can remember, putting her behind bars was always the obsession of Aquino. He talked about it during his campaign for the presidency in 2010. He incessantly talked about it once ensconced in Malacañang.

    “Now, three and a half years after acceding to office, and in the twilight of his watch, he still boasts that her being detained is a high point of his presidency.

    “In a country that disputes everything, including when a human being can be considered dead and qualified to become a casualty statistic, how did President Aquino succeed in keeping GMA in detention for so long without giving her a proper trial, without her getting bailed or getting freed, without the alarming state of her health getting full consideration, and without our people demanding that she be given justice or freed?

    “The reason, I submit, is that GMA is a trophy for display of President Aquino.”

    But Arroyo proved to be nothing like a trophy wife, who is usually content with being a wallflower or pretty vase.

    This trophy prisoner had her passionate defenders, including the celebrity wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney who succeeded in getting a United Nations committee to declare Arroyo a human-rights victim. GMA and her lawyers fought spiritedly against the pile of cases that Aquino ordered filed in court by his justice secretary, Leila de Lima, and the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. They got most of the cases dismissed, leaving finally the plunder case, which the High Court has now voided.

    Feud about Hacienda Luisita
    I wrote a second column on Arroyo’s case to get at the heart of Aquino’s vindictiveness against her. I sought to understand how two political leaders from the same region, and nominally both Kapangpangan, could wind up as bitter enemies.

    Reviewing what was available in the records, I concluded that the animosity stemmed mostly from Arroyo’s refusal to back Cory Aquino’s crooked formula for shielding Hacienda Luisita from agrarian reform—the infamous stock distribution option (SDO).

    When the Arroyo administration scuttled the SDO, it was war from then on. Cory was most bitter toward GMA because she thought her support was instrumental in the overthrow of Joseph Estrada, and the accession of Arroyo to office.

    When BS Aquino was installed in turn in the presidency in 2010, he fantasized that it was payback time against Arroyo. He started by orchestrating successfully the impeachment of then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, who had to be removed for any assault on Arroyo to succeed.

    Aquino’s vindictiveness—which sometimes took comical turns by incessantly blaming Arroyo for his administration’s shortcomings, and grabbing credit for the achievements of Arroyo as President—was always about Hacienda Luisita.

    Like Javert’s obsessive pursuit of Valjean in Les Miserables, Aquino’s obsession to secure the conviction of Arroyo knew no bounds. He dangled prospective appointment to the Supreme Court as an incentive for Sandiganbayan justices to keep Arroyo in continued detention. Aquino kept people like De Lima and Risa Hontiveros perpetually indebted to him by helping to secure their election to the Senate. Both issued press statements to assail the SC decision.
    How will this drama end?
    From the pictures and TV footages, it looks like Aquino has noticeably aged since he left Malacañang. He looked emaciated in the first pictures of him in his new digs in his house on Times Street, in Quezon City. He did not get a boost of energy from the SC decision to free Arroyo.

    Meanwhile, his adversary, Arroyo, is raring to take her seat in the 17th Congress, on Monday, July 25.

    She could find a new lease of life as a legislator. Before Congress could convene, she already filed two significant legislative proposals. And she enjoys a comfortable relationship with President Duterte, who offered her a pardon, but which she prudently declined.

    In a major role reversal, Aquino now faces a future of multiple lawsuits arising from his misdeeds in office—starting with a case filed by the families of the victims of the Mamasapano massacre, and another on his approval of the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). In contrast, Arroyo appears to be recovering her spirits, if not exactly her health. The self-confidence that was eroded by her four years of hospital detention has slowly been rebuilt in resistance to Aquino’s efforts to destroy her.

    She says she would not wish what happened to her on anyone. Maybe not even her tormentor.



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    1. And to think that a group of fanatics wanted to declare her a SAINT and even initiated such move!!! The same group declares to high heavens, they are devout Catholics!!!

    2. Victor Hugot on

      Pres P-noy waged a war against Gloria, and lost. Now, Pres Gloria is about to get her due.

      Battle of the giants. The crowds are divided while cheering their idols – not knowing that they were the unwitting victims of these follies.

      Time, and opportunities for development were lost. Funds from taxes were squandered, most going into the pockets of partisan politicians and justices.

      In wars, the biggest losers are the citizens. In political wars, the electorates are the losers. And the mighty courts are the battlegrounds.

      Like in the movies, we are awaiting vengeance from the underdog. Enjoy and watch how your taxes lavishly fund this spectacle.

    3. I ead with interest the words you used & you said concluded. I just woner what evidence you looked at to see if she is truly guilty or innocent, yes she was aquitted by the supreme court & i accept that decision. However it wasnt so clear cut as you make it. If she was as innocent as you make her sound all supreme court members would have come to the same conclusion you so easily did. But aquitted she was.
      Now lets look at corona who you always mention & also always mention his innocence, he had P180,000,000 in his dollar account, did he ever show even the slightest evidence of where that came from. Ne, he just gave a 2 hour speech telling us how honest he was & he saved this with his thriftyness.
      Thats what i concluded from him.

      • I don’t follow your logic but I can conclude that you are a yellowtard. You are blinded by jaundice not to see the obvious. As stated by Mr. Makabenta the late CJ Corona and former Pres. Arroyo were but casualties of their actions against Hacienda Luisita. Mr. BS Aquino the 3rd used the powers at his disposal to exact vengeance on the people that ‘tormented’ his family and their interests. Is that so difficult to understand and accept?

      • Aquino should spend the rest of his life in jail for all the many wrongs he did to this Nation.
        A complete failure across every aspect of his Presidency

    4. Allen Llamar on

      .Katimoy, stop making up stories, your nothing but a typical pinoy tsismoso, she suffered enough already, Titirahin mo pa. May be one day it will be your turn,life is a cycle bro. just remember that…

    5. GMA in cahoots with her husband, was just like Ferdie and Imelda, only worse. The writer does not seem to see this, but not the whole world. Her supposed “illness” is just arte, for the public to take pity on her. Why on earth are they so envious of Hacienda Luisita? This property belonged to them dating back during the Spanish times. Inggit (envy) is a universal flaw of character, more so in the Filipino psyche.

    6. To former Pres BSA3rd: Because of your blind, misplaced & distorted obsessive pursuit of vindictiveness towards former Pres Arroyo regarding the unfavorable decision of the Supreme Court (headed by former CJ Corona) on your Hacienda Luisita’s infamous Stock Distribution Option, you are now facing charges on Mamasapano Massacre & illegal DAP. As they say, “ang mundo ay bilog.”

    7. And one time she also went to China in a jiffy leaving a sick husband in a hospital just to have a tryst with some underworld Chinese spy to sign a who knows what document re national interest? This was never revealed to the people but the result is as plain as it could be. The Chinese building a military installation right in our doorsteps! And boldly claiming the whole WPS as their own. Damn

      • Hoy! Kamote, saan mo napulot yan. Patunayan mo nga. Siguro imbento yan ng sirang ulong boss mo. May sweldo ka pa ba?

    8. Sample siguro ito na nagpapatunay na ang mga giyera kung minsay ay likha ng mga immature na tao. At yung mga sumusunod sa mga immature na taong ito ay mga utu-uto. sayang na katalinuhan. Hindi porke nasa position of responsibility ay immune sa immaturity. Minsan daig pa sila ng mga simpleng manggagawa at magsasaka dahil may mature silang pagloloob.

    9. GMA was just lucky the citizens hated BS Aquino so much that any action to shame Aquino is supported no matter what. Throw BS Aquino in jail for the citizens joy of contentment.

    10. Jose A. Oliveros on

      One thing is clear from this column – the Cojuangco-Aquino mother and son tandem are both vindictive.

    11. Prepare for your “MISERABLE DAYS” to come Mr. BS Aquino III … lagot ka ngayon sa iyong pagiging vengativo !!!

    12. P.Akialamiro on

      “Kung may utang (vicious deed), pagbabayaran!” Conversely, “kung may pautang, may masisingil!”

      People talk about “Karma”, but they don’t seem to connect the happenings in life that will bring about “Karma”. This is a fact of life.

      The old cliche, goes arouind comes around, is undeniably true.