Sylvia Estrada Claudio is a doctor of medicine and a PhD in Psychology. She is Professor of Women and Development Studies as well as Director of the University Center for Women’s Studies, University of the Philippines. Those who remember her occasional Yellow Pad columns might be interested to know that she wept while apologizing to her sons for passing on to them a country where things like the Maguindanao massacre could happen. This was published in the BusinessWorld’s December 07, 2009 edition, page S1/4 to S1/5.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared she would run for a seat in the House of Representatives.

I can see it all now. Nine years from now she will be barred for a third term and will run for maybe, mayor? governor? How many elective positions can she run for before she runs out? Perhaps she will then enter the Guinness Book of Records when she finally becomes the first centenarian to run for barangay councilor.

On the day of her announcement, her election lawyer also described the motorcade to be undertaken to file her certificate of candidacy. Perhaps aware of the massacres that happen to people who oppose administration candidates, her erstwhile opponent Prof. Randy David, decided not to oppose her after all. Opposition motorcades are a bit dicey these days.

Being a women’s advocate, I noticed her say that she felt the need to, among other things, continue to contribute to the empowerment of women. I suppose she intends to consult her allies, the Ampatuans, on the matter. Or should she consult Chavit Singson?

On the same day, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde attempted to speak at a rally in Mendiola to protest the Maguindanao killings. He seemed to take it graciously when he was booed off stage. “Part of the job,” he said. I wonder what else he thinks is part of the job? Making us believe that now that they are prosecuting the Ampatuans ever-so-carefully, they were not trying to keep them in power barely two weeks ago? Having us believe that we are to sit back and be jolly after discovering that Gloria and much of her cabinet have been pals with mass murderers?

Oh, I can imagine it indeed. The hoopla that surrounds the President and her men wherever they go. The bowings and the scrapings of underlings and sycophants. The increasing arrogance that comes when one keeps power that you do not deserve. With such power you can buy either, by money or the promise of lucrative positions, any number of lackeys. In fact, with such power you have no choice but to surround yourself with corrupt, the corruptible, the mediocre or the deluded.

It is a common question people ask each other. A psychological one really: how do they sleep at night? Very soundly actually. They can no longer imagine a way of politics that is different from their shabby shenanigans. They can no longer afford to exercise their moral faculties— if they had it in the first place. Ampatuan, Garcellano, Abalos. Bolante, Palparan, I could name many more. Arroyo’s friends and allies. They are famous not just for their misdeeds but for the added venality of their downright refusal to be shamed off the national stage.

Megalomania, dissociation from the humbling dialectics of a normal social life, the inability to respect dissent, delusions that have them believe their own lies, isolation from the ordinary lives of the majority. It is a condition that beset the imperial palaces of the past when the powers of kings and
sultans were paramount. These days, we might think of describing it as a mass psychological syndrome affecting members of a depraved elite.

They are shaking their heads over the turn of events, wondering how such bad luck could happen to them. The death of Cory Aquino and the surge in Noynoy’s poll numbers, the Maguindanao massacre, their low approval ratings, the mass desertions from their political fold. Note to them: it is called by some religions, karma. The impersonal law of moral balance that no amount of wealth or power can overcome.

To sleep at night, those who have enough brains to need rationalizations, call us communists, terrorists, agitators, naive, wooly academics, hysterical, or any number of things. Those who do not have enough moral or intellectual abilities, do not need to even think about the rest of the world. Indeed they may be untouchable in their safe places. But those spaces have only the size of their mansions and not the expanse of our communal acceptance.

We, blessed ordinary folk, shall laugh in the face of at their arrogance. We shall whisper our dissent against their imperiousness. We shall satirize their self importance. And, at their moments of greatest venality, we shall hysterically scream: NO.

No, you’re not good people. No we don’t buy your lies though you may get away with it all. No, we will not be dazzled by your illegally obtained wealth nor grant your children and grandchildren the status that wealth confers. No matter how many people you can buy, cajole or threaten into showing you acceptance and admiration, you stand condemned by us.

With laughter, in tears, with sarcasm, in full-throated dissent, with irony, in hysteria—we say NO. And we will not forget. I humbly ask the good people of Pampanga not to vote for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.