Pinoys are not easy to please. Maybe even impossible? I don’t know that Erap or Manny Villar would have done better than PNoy. Maybe yes, maybe no. Tough to lead and feed 105M rabbits, with countless Wa-is, Kadunongs and Pilosopos. The one you hate the most, egg him to run for Prez of our ungovernable nation of scofflaws, who dump or pile on PNoy.
He is blamed for Kidapawan even if the gutsy Gobernadora admirably assumes responsibility in her home turf. I gather the local mayor was an activist himself. Both “progressive” then, in the lingo of veteran street parliamentarians.
But an elected official has to care for all sectors.
I really cannot say much more about what happened in that faraway place with a (to me) strange-sounding name.
Kidapawan was where I met Bishop Orlando Quevedo pre-Edsa ’86, when, in a cameo role, I helped prosecute, with Department of Justice Tirso Velasco, and fellow local human rights lawyers Greg Andolana and Sol Jubillan – the notorious Manero Brothers, on the request of Italy’s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), for killing Fr. Favali, yes, exactly 31 Aprils ago, on April 11, 1985, in Km. 125, Tulunan. (Sol is gone, vehicular incident; Greg, your take?)
The Bishop, now a Cardinal, harbored our witnesses, in that memorable case. The Maneros would go to court billiard-ball-bald, save for a tiny heart-shaped tuft of hair. The patriarch reportedly shot and killed a son for being disrespectful (lapastangan) to his mother. He was buried in the silong of their house over which was the dinner table.
The weirdos were convicted, said to be para-military, some kind of Lost Command, which rural legend linked to Col. Carlos “Ladi” Lademora, of San Francisco, Agusan Sur. I’d take the 2a.m. Bulilit Flite to Davao, then go overland by bus, for two hours, for the trial in beautiful lush green Kidapawan, God’s Little Acres.
Anyway, Your Eminence, ano po masasabi nila sa kapapangyari sa Kidapawan? You too, Archbishop Tony Ledesma? Your Mindanao-based views should carry a lot of weight.
The Jan 22, 1987 Mendiola Massacre has also been dredged up, about which I have something to say (none, as to the 2004 Hacienda Luisita killing, to which I am not privy at all). We were in the Malacañang Guest House watching the telecast, at dusk. To our shock, Ka Jimmy Tadeo, et al. quickly and forciblybreached the police lines sans stopping for the customary negotiations. Gunfire. Reports varied. Some said it started at the back of the marchers. Agents provocateurs?
Prez Cory was blamed. Why? Cuz the cops and soldiers fired shots to protect her and us? Should they have stepped aside and have the marchers attack, harm, maim or even kill us in the Palace at a time when emotions ran very high? Probes and lawsuits did not pin her down.
During the wake in Mt. Carmel, Sen. Lorenzo Tañada expressed to me doubts that the deceased were farmers. He could have erred, we all err, but that was what he told me. Peksman. Inaakay so siya, ngayon ako na ang inaakay (last Tuesday I was in the Senate briefly and I met Manong Johnny, 92; we chatted, not about RCBC, which would have been improper, ex parte, in the absence of adverse parties, but about La Comparsita; he also dancexercises and loves the fiery tango; at home; he can join me in Solaire‘s Eclipse but he has to arrange his own seduction).
Hours later — back to Jan 22, 1987 — another aborted coup by the military. Was there a rightist-leftist plot to bring down duly-constituted authority? After Prez Cory stepped down, she was sued. Her cuz, Ding Tanjuatco of MABINI, Mel Santamaria and I defended her. Judge Percival Mandap Lopez dismissed the suit on Jan 4, 1999. Statute of limitations. FVR and Lim were co-defendants.
Immune when Prez Cory was in Malacañang? But, Prez JFK was sued in 1962 in a vehicular incident. He invoked immunity. Rejected. JFK settled for $17,500. Prez Bill Clinton paid $850,000, to settle the case of Paula Jones. Immunity rejected also, as in the case of Prez Nixon, who Fitzgerald had sued; case settled for $142,000. Prez Cory could have been sued much earlier than the late 90’s. Presidential immunity is just so much local superstition. Were PNoy charged with rape, he could plead timely consent but not “I’m Prez, I’m immune.” Bill Clinton could be the role model. Pay to settle.
On Kidapawan, let’s hold our galloping horses, shall we? Trotting or cantering will do. And wait for the Kidapawan probe results in the calm of our study before passing judgment on anyone. But, the PNoy bashers have gone to town again. (They may not be the ones being asked in poll surveys, who elevate him, overall. Uncle Jovy Salonga said that per surveys his bid was hopeless but he emerged as No. 1 in three senatorial bids. Yup, the poll that would really matter is on May 9, a month from now.)
Friends, “to be fair,” per one email I got on Kidapawan, “PNoy walang kinalaman dito sa shooting sa North Cotabato. Inatake ang mga police ng mga rallyista wala ng magawa ang mga police. May nagpaputok sa hanay ng rallyistas ayon sa aming driver who was in the area. Ayon sa isang video ng isang rallyista may nagpaputok ng mga lalaki sa hanay nila di nila kilala kung saang grupo. Niloloko sila, pinasabi ng Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis, Gabriela, etc. na may bigas na ibibigay only to find out that they were going to the rally. They want to go home but the marshalls of the strikers prevented them from going home. Question: saan ginagamit ng Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anak Pawis, etc. ang pera ng party list? They hired 10 wheeler trucks, etc. para kunin ang mga farmers na niloloko nila. Government funding to destroy the government?” A version to verify, in fairness.
Let’s hear the other side.
If X’s kids are starving, one may not just go in with food. Course same to the family head. Huwag lapastanganin ang padre o madre de familia. Dignity matters.
In 1986-87, I was in the arena (Malacañang) myself. In the Sorbonne, in Paris, on April 23, 1910, Prez Theodore Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
As I wrote this piece the other day, the PDI reported that the Supreme Court SC) had denied the motions to reconsider in Grace Poe’s case. If true, I laud the egalitarian pro-foundling ruling. Let the People decide to reject her, the quintessential political question in a democracy, for the sovereign people, not the few unelected, in the Comelec or the SC, to decide. The I in PDI: Inquirer? Intriguer? Vamos a ver.
Precedent? PBA, Vivo, Pimentel, MABINI, et al. v. Comelec, 140 SCRA 453 (1985), and an arguably unconstitutional or extra-constitutional snap election ended the brutal dictatorship. Nothing in the Consti requires Grace to have eight votes to win, another superstition, but only a majority of those voting as long as there’s a quorum. Seven cannot be trumped by a lower number.