Open Letter to Rigoberto Tiglao, Chief, Presidential Management Staff

Buencamino writes political commentary for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Malaya, July 28, 2005 edition, page A5

Dear Bobi,

I was encouraged by your spirited defense of our idol in an article entitled, “What does not kill you makes you stronger.”  Like you, I look up to Gloria Arroyo, and I needed some assurance that we would not be crushed if she fell on us.

I didn’t want to believe Bob Harris who quipped, “I think natural selection must have greatly rewarded the ability to reassure oneself in a crisis with complete bullshit.”  I knew I could count on you to set the record straight. The truth will set us free, not land us in jail, remember?

I‘ve been feeling quite despondent over the last couple of months. Who wouldn’t be? What with all those surveys reporting that, except for you and me, every Filipino, including the ones who really voted for her, wants our idol out of town. I heard her own husband left town because he gave up on waiting for her to leave. Or was it the Cabinet members? I’m so confused by all these comings and goings.

Anyway, remember those days of the fiscal crisis? Remember how the fiscal crisis mysteriously disappeared after our idol said it was only a case of negative thinking brought about by too many doomsayers?  Well, what were those anti-depressants she took to make the fiscal crisis go away? Maybe you can help me out because I’m going to need a lot of those happy pills to survive this crisis. Besides, I must—to work up the energy to follow your argument to its logical conclusion.  That is, Gloria will become strong enough to become president for life! But before we both get carried away, let’s set our house in order.

First thing we have to do is to get our facts straight. The Malaysian example that you cited (“In the 1999 elections, Mahathir’s party won a landslide victory”) is not true. Mahathir’s party, UMNO, and his coalition, Barisan Nasional, performed poorly in that election.  It was in the election AFTER MAHATHIR RETIRED that they won a landslide victory and recovered the seats they lost in 1999. Don’t take my word for it, do some reading so you don’t repeat your mistake. It leaves us vulnerable to accusations that we twist facts to fit our arguments.

Second, let’s not draw parallels between our idol and Thailand’s Thaksin, who was accused of concealing assets to avoid taxes.  I know the point of your story was to highlight this:  “In an emotional televised court appearance that June, Thaksin said that his was an “honest mistake.”  But a story about concealing assets only reminds people of Jose Pidal.

Third, let’s not let our idol stand beside Cory Aquino. It brings memories of our silly attempt to equate our idol with Ninoy. That only produced the hilarious image of our idol sprawled on Mrs. Aquino’s living room floor. And what did it accomplish? She asked our idol to resign anyway.

Fourth, let’s jump directly to your example of Clinton, who was impeached but not convicted by the Senate. Hey, people might think we are telegraphing our moves. In addition, why remind them of the man who used a cigar on a White House intern when our idol used a garci who might become an intern in Muntinglupa. You should know the Pinoy and how he loves to play with words . Dugay ka na sa Malacañang….

Fifth, I don’t think it was very smart of you to mention that a “’lame-duck’ president…is the conceptual cousin of the fuzzy notion of ‘credibility.’”  It’s too close to “ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw.” So stay away from references to family ties.

But, I like how you threatened your readers with the enormous powers of the presidency. I hope those people realize that our idol will not hesitate to use those powers in the most forceful way. We must erase all doubts about our determination to make Gloria president for life.

Finally, because we are realistic, we will issue a decree on succession that names the two Mikes, Jose Pidal, you and me to the council that will decide who will succeed our idol in the event of her untimely death or incapacitation.

Why should I be included in the council? Well, you need someone like me to make sure you don’t have that look of a deer caught in headlights every time you face TV cameras.

Sincerely yours,
Manuel

PS: Have you heard the joke going around among some of your former activist contemporaries? Question: “How many kinds of communists are there?” Answer: “Three. The reaffirmists, the rejectionists and one Hare Krishna.”

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