Buencamino writes political commentary for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Malaya, September 17, 2005 edition, page A5..

After she was horribly disfigured by the “I am sorry speech”, Mrs. Arroyo went on a media blitz to reconstruct her image. As luck would have it, her new face did not survive a televised interview with Korina Sanchez of the ANC.

Asked exactly what she apologized for, the little woman could only say she was advised by her lawyers to “protect her rights as an accused person” and keep her mouth shut. Instead of answering Korina’s question, she lashed out at her critics and courted sympathy from the “pobrecita naman ella” crowd with laments like, “my rights have been sooo violated” and “I have been soo victimized.”

No one was surprised by Mrs. Arroyo’s answer. Her critics anticipated a cover-up. Her allies expected her to protect herself by taking the “fifth,” the way Mafia dons always do.

Today, Dona Gloria does not have to fear impeachment. The same henchmen who killed it will be there to kill it again and again tomorrow. They will remain there until they morph themselves into a parliament. Dona Gloria is safe. She has no further use for the old Mafia standby clause.

Now that she’s safe, she should answer Korina’s question; not from any pangs of conscience, but because she can get away with it.

There are so many lies floating around, people are desperate for something to believe in. They will allow Mrs. Arroyo to claim she did nothing wrong despite what they heard on the tapes if they hear it straight from her “I-am -sorry” mouth, but not from the mouths of “two-CDs” Bunye  and  “that’s-her-voice-but- she-is-not-the-one- talking” Defensor.  Even desperation has its limits.

Mrs. Arroyo can re-contextualize the Garci conversations. She can reframe her concern with the mismatch between SOVs and COCs by claiming it’s proof of her desire to ensure a clean and honest election. She can say “yun dagdag, yun dagdag” was uttered because she  was reminding a Comelec commissioner to keep a watchful eye on it.  She can say there was nothing sinister about her anxiety over the welfare of an election officer who crossed over to Fernando Poe’s camp, because all she wanted was assurance that the election officer and her family were safe and secure under a Comelec commissioner’s protection and custody. She can say she wanted a peaceful and orderly election— that’s why  a Comelec commissioner was mentoring inexperienced generals assigned to election duty in the ARMM provinces. A lie is as good as the truth if you can get people to believe it.

Mrs. Arroyo can end the political crisis and re-unite the country by reformulating those phone conversations. Why doesn’t she? Doesn’t she want to see 6000 independent-minded civil society women embracing their mindless sisters again? Doesn’t she want  Donald Dee and Bill Luz to kiss and make up? Doesn’t she want Ateneo Jesuits and La Salle brothers to go back to settling their differences on the basketball court? Doesn’t she want the Hyatt 10 to move back to her “no tell” motel? Doesn’t she want Cory and Susan to get some rest?

Isn’t she dying to tell Korina, that the answer to her question is, “I was not sorry pala.”