It’s hard to imagine it’s been a mere two years since rumors began to circulate that there was a tape –a dangerous tape. Then Jove Francisco wrote When does “Hello” mean goodbye? And the PCIJ wrote The Palace and the Tape, and I wrote The “Hello” heard ’round the world, beginning a personal odyssey (see Media can’t be held liable for releasing tapes and A happy shrewdness, Machiavelli suggests; and recall the two truncated versions of the tapes and the eventual full, three-hour version) that culminated in my online manifesto, Where I stand, on June 16, 2005. From there, it was, perhaps, inevitable that I’d decide on the course of action I proposed in Redemption, June 30, 2005,when I added my voice to those calling for the President’s resignation.
Last year, my reflection on the sad Sixth of June was What we’ve learned: the tapes. This year, I only want to offer up a brief reflection. It’s really one involving the clash of two book ideas. On the one hand, there’s the quest for, and expectation of, The Tipping Point; on the other, the idea of The Wisdom of Crowds. For those of us who took sides, particularly in 2005-2006, it was always a tipping point that was the Holy Grail; but as things turned out from 2005, culminating in the May 2007 elections, what’s been demonstrated is the wisdom of crowds -the whole, comprising the partisan and the non-partisan.
As always, we have to keep looking back to what’s happened in the past: back in 2000-2001there were those who called for Joseph Estrada’s resignation; but the majority of Filipinos preferred constitutional options and to wait-and-see, specifically, public opinion weighed heavily on the side of acting as juror-spectators as the senate took on its role as senator-judges in the impeachment. May 2001 and May 2004 also saw the passions of Edsa Dos and Tres channeled to the preferred arena for settling political combat, as far as the public’s concerned: elections.
From 2005-2006, even as many groups sought a tipping point, the public, in survey after survey, expressed itself, on the whole, firmly on the side of constitutional paths. Impeachment was the majority-preferred option, just as, at one point in 2005, resignation (a thoroughly constitutional option, we forget) was the preferred solution of a majority of the public. What the public expressed itself against was a purely military solution, or even the revival of People Power on the streets; but also, later, it would express itself as firmly against extremes even within the constitutional system: against a Senate that investigated but didn’t legislate, against a presidency that claimed too much power and ignored other branches of government.
This is what I mean by the wisdom of crowds. Those of us who took partisan positions have a role to play, but in the end -and it’s at times breathtakingly beautiful to me, to pause, take stock, and realize this- the devotion of our country as a whole, is doggedly, unbudgingly, sensibly, for the democratic path. Partisan lines came closest to blurring in December, 2006, when it seemed elections themselves might be postponed if not canceled; and we’ve seen the May elections finally settle what the public opinion polls could only hint at: where does the country, as a whole, stand? On the whole, not even for or against the President, but firmly on the side of checks-and-balance. And we can even expect a certain kind of renewed stability, if only the powers-that-be could read this message. Sad to say, I think what we have ahead of us will be government-provoked destabilization, as today’s Inquirer editorial spells out.