The President with an Asterisk

Buencamino does political affairs analysis for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in Today, June 30, 2004, p. 11

“the darkest hour is just before the dawn” – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

It is the best and the worst time to commit a crime. Those lawyers who found public service more lucrative than the legal profession must have known that a crime committed under the cover of darkness and combined with overwhelming force warrants the maximum penalty under the law, but they did it anyway. As a dead white Hobbes once said, life, when we don’t respect or fear anything, remains “nasty, brutish and short.” And he was right. The elections were nasty, the majority in Congress was brutish and the winner was short.

The accused know that the best way out of a rape charge is to marry the victim, with or without a shotgun, as long as there is a judge willing to officiate the ceremony and there are enough witnesses to say the bride consented. The shotgun bride can always file for annulment, provided, of course, to use the criminal phrase du jour, it is “filed in the proper venue.”

The celebration will be held in Cebu. Guests will ride the inaugural train of the newly built Drilon-De Venecia Inter-island Railroad linking the Batasan directly to the island of Cebu.

Welcoming the guests on behalf of Cebu’s “intelligent” voters will be Tony Cuenco, the only Cebuano congressperson whose English can be understood by those of us from Imperial Manila. Tony Cuenco is living proof that Ateneo de Manila is the best language school anywhere.

Cuenco’s explanation for GMA’s statistics-defying victory in Cebu—”Cebuanos are intelligent”—did not fly. The other congresspersons from Cebu had a more plausible but no less Kenkoy explanation for GMA’s victory —”she spoke Cebuano fluently.”

GMA had enough brains to speak Cebuano to the Cebuanos. Maybe that would explain why Miriam Santiago was included in GMA’s ticket. She needed someone who could communicate in English to those who lived in the outlying islands south of Luzon. Miriam is Ilonggo? Same difference.

The celebrations will be simple and austere. It will be one of those potluck affairs to which everyone will fight for the honor of bringing something to the party. Expect Miriam to bring chicken feet as a symbol of the six-year orgy of toe-sucking that she dreams about. Expect the Comelec and the majority to bring gift-wrapped certificates of canvass or “gift certificates” for short.

On a lighter note, the country is in deep shit. Had it not been for America’s 2000 presidential election, we would be in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest and dirtiest election in living memory. God Bless America.

But seriously, our president is in the same situation as America’s president-select. The bills are coming and they must be paid. There is no easy way of getting around that pain.

Bush was lucky to have a Bin Laden to distract his people. Arroyo, on the other hand, only has Elly Pamatong. Metal— spikes puncturing a tire are not as distracting as jets crashing into a building. Arroyo has to keep us distracted while she finishes what she set out to do.

I wish her the best of luck because, at this point, it is useless to fight so I might as well lie back and enjoy it.

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