IF anyone had hoped that the House hearings on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano, Maguindanao massacre would help clear President B. S. Aquino of his culpability in the death of 44 PNP-Special Action Force commandos, and make more people oppose the call for his immediate resignation, those hopes were quickly dashed to the granite floor on the last day. The hearings showed that truth and reason, as we knew them, had lost their meaning in the hands of those resolved to save Aquino from his own deeds and omissions, and that more people have all the reasons in the world now to want him gone as soon as possible.
Because he could not ascertain who were speaking the truth and who weren’t, Partylist Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of ACT-CIS proposed a polygraph test for the resource persons. The committee failed to act upon the proposal, but it was rather unprecedented–nothing like it had ever been proposed in any previous inquiry in aid of congressional oversight, or legislation. That’s how far the state of lying even in Congress has gone.
Outside of the hearings, a resource person at Café Fernandina at Club Filipino on Wednesday revealed that an independent survey earlier conducted by the research foundation she works for had shown that only 17 percent remained opposed to Aquino’s immediate resignation. A previous survey, conducted by one of the more infamous paid propaganda pollsters, reported that figure at 42 percent. This seemed to show increasing support for the call of the National Transformation Council and other groups for PNoy to step down.
While all this was happening, the government’s position on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law became increasingly muddled, as MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, who had earlier signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and other documents relevant to the Babala, admitted that “Iqbal” was but his nom de guerre, and he had used it in signing all the documents. He has refused to reveal his real name, but defended the use of his pseudonym as a common practice among revolutionaries.
Not one disputes that statement. Indeed pseudonyms are common in revolutionary movements as in literature. Lenin, Trotsky, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan used other names in their time, and in recent times we read about Carlos the Jackal and Subcomandante Marcos. In literature, we have famous pen names like Alberto Moravia, Anatole France, Anthony Burgess, Ayn Rand, Cassandra, Ellery Queen, Gabriela Mistral, Gerard de Nerval and so many more. But the Revised Penal Code prohibits the use of any assumed name in any official document, as Davao’s Congressman Karlo Nograles pointed out.
Back to square one on BabaLa
The necessary implication of this is that the CAB and all the annexes signed by Iqbal together with his Philippine government counterpart, and with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as paramount witness, are on their face void ab initio–they have no legal existence. There is, therefore, no Babala to quibble about; we are back to square one.
At the same time Aquino’s latest public statement in Iligan, Isabela warning the public against “two-faced” politicians representing themselves as his “allies” while in fact opposing him, raised serious doubts about the limits of his capacity for nonsense. This is really irrational discourse. Unless Aquino is warning his Cabinet against local politicians who pretend to be his supporters in order to continue receiving funds and favors from Malacañang while in fact working against him, there would be no basis for this statement.
Given how extremely unpopular he has become among our people, it is absurd to suggest that there are any number of politicians out there who will still want to be identified as Aquino’s supporters or allies. Rare is the politician who will still want to be caught dead in that position; the people will automatically reject him. On the other hand, they have to be protected from Trojan horses who pretend to speak for the people but are in fact attached to the feeding trough of Malacañang.
The average mind, which has been trained to reason, can easily detect a lie when it sees one. No need for a lie detector, especially when the investigation is not taking place inside a Camp X-ray-type facility and the ones being investigated are not spies or terrorists who have been trained to beat the most sophisticated truth machine. But the fact that the lie detector was proposed in a congressional proceeding clearly showed preponderance of doubt in the integrity of the allegations.
If lies were flies, one would need a huge fly swatter to catch all the flies in the Batasan. I do not intend to play fly catcher here, and ruin the fun for those who may have enjoyed the proceedings. But I will simply focus on one simple-minded, totally outrageous proposition that failed to bother those conducting the hearings. This was the line which said, in answer to questions from ACT Teachers Rep Antonio L. Tinio, that it was Aquino’s “prerogative” (or right or privilege) to disregard the Philippine National Police chain of command and create his own. This referred to Aquino’s decision to shut out DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and the Acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina from “Operation Exodus,” and to replace them with the suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima, and then to go straight to the bottom of the ladder, Chief Superintendent Getulio Napenas, the now sacked-SAF commander.
No law prevents Aquino from exercising his “prerogative” and no law punishes him for any untoward consequence of the exercise of his prerogative. That is not open to debate. But isn’t he responsible for the tragic and bloody consequence of the exercise of his prerogative? Without debate, he is. And in his first public statement after the massacre, he assumed responsibility for what happened to the 44 SAF commandos, saying he would carry its memory to his grave. But while “assuming responsibility” for what had happened, he refused to accept its real consequences–which, in the finest tradition of public office, meant stepping down from the office even without admitting personal guilt. Then he began to blame everything on Purisima, who had no legal existence in the whole affair, and on Napenas, who was merely taking orders from him, as the actual commander of Operation Exodus–all in an effort to absolve himself of any responsibility or guilt.
Some congressmen showed rare courage in asking questions that were not asked before in the earlier hearings, whether in the House or in the Senate, or in the PNP Board of Inquiry, which produced namby-pamby results. But they failed to ask the most critical questions about Aquino’s real role as operational commander of Oplan Exodus. What exactly did he do during the final stages of the massacre, while he was in Zamboanga City monitoring the carnage from a US drone-fed facility inside the West Mindanao command, where several months ago he had commanded the military operation that extinguished a couple of hundred Moro National Liberation Front fighters, razed 10,000 homes to the ground, and displaced over 100,000 poor folk from their communities?
Why was there such reluctance to open this particular Pandora’s box in all the inquiries? What deep secrets remain hidden there whose revelation is beyond Aquino’s capacity to explain or survive?