The big news yesterday was Cory Aquino’s statement and the interesting decision by the majority in the House to go along with the playing of the Paguia tape: talk is that the administration has decided to raise the ante by preparing to release new tapes that show at least two opposition senators also talked to Garcellano (if this happens, the result will be that those senators will have no choice but to share the same fate as the president). Also, a new Civil Society coalition has called for the Comelec’s resignation.

Cory Aquino’s statement, I believe, is part of her efforts to arrive at some sort of national consensus that transcends party lines. Contrary to what some observers feel, she has not closed any options to herself. She has hinted, though, that she will have to make some sort of public, and thus, highly influential, decision, in the coming days.

But she has shown the self-imposed limitations under which she will work. First of all, that she will not support a coup, or a junta, or a revolutionary government. That, second, she remains dedicated to peaceful means; third, that those peaceful means are only those permitted by the present Constitution. Those options are many: peaceable assembly and petition; calls for resignation; impeachment; even, perhaps, censure of the President by Congress.

People knowledgeable of her ways told me that Cory Aquino’s strategy started going into effect when she quietly met with Susan Roces on June 17. She may have heard that Susan Roces was preparing to make a public announcement, and felt it would be better to show good faith by meeting with her before then. Cory was moved by Roces’s call for sobriety in the wake of her meeting with Atty. Ong. And the question, perhaps, for one widow as she met the other, was: perhaps we have some things in common? It seems they do. Both do not want things to end up with an uncontrollable explosion of anger in the streets. Does this common desire show a potential for a meeting of the minds? This, is, perhaps, what Cory is praying over now.

As for me, let’s be clear: no to a junta, no to a revolution, no to extra-constitutional options or means. However: it is fear that is motivating people to refuse to even explore or discuss the constitutional options, and this worries me.

Window dressing is the editorial of the Inquirer, with this thought-provoking section:

To sacrifice others, whether out of tactical considerations or a genuine desire to appease the people, evades the preeminent expectation of accountability. The President continues to evade the clamor for her to personally account to the country as to her conduct during the national elections last year. She must do this without equivocation. She must do this by responding, point by point, to the questions raised by the opposition. She must eliminate all doubts that remain concerning the close to 17 percent of the vote even the election watchdog Namfrel can’t vouch for. This is how both moral and political courage — which she has tried but failed thus far to show — can be proven.

There is only the beginning of a Civil Society and middle class consensus, and I think the minds of people have not been made up so long as there remains the chance the President will favorably react to a proposal for a Truth Commission. If the President either rejects, or drags her feet, on the commission proposal, then matters may accelerate as Civil Society and middle class (and business) types wrestle with the dilemma of clinging to the President out of fears of Noli de Castro, or losing control over, or relevance in, coming events. The fears of many people of things spinning out of control is reflected in entries such as Jove’s, in his blog, where he explains the prudence required of his work, and his own personal belief, and his need to be consistent with his own views.

Lito Banayo is an interesting person, he has Edsa 1 credentials, having worked for Cory Aquino, and as political strategists go, avoids the shrill and too personal; he made the decision to serve Panfilo Lacson after having served Joseph Estrada. His column recently is one of those columns worth clipping, and sharing. It discusses what many people have gone through before, and are going through now: the private agony of deciding between loyalty to a president or the country in a time of crisis.

The following was written by my good friend Raul Gonzalez (no, not the Secretary of Justice), who was Diosdado Macapagal’s press secretary and most recently, a columnist from the Tribune. He knew the President’s father very well. He sent me this some years back, and it’s something I turned to, time and again, while I worked for his daughter.

M & M: A Tale of Two Presidents
by Raul Gonzalez,

“SIR, with such a person as President, what will become of our country?” This I asked Diosdado Macapagal just before he was to relinquish his office to Ferdinand E. Marcos who was —in vain, we had warned voters during our failed campaign —“a thief and forger, landgrabber and filer of false war damage claims, fake war hero and proven man of violence, unmitigated liar and consummate scalawag”.

For his reply, Macapagal stood up from his chair in the presidential study, tapped its backrest, and said: “Have no fear. Whatever might have been said of him, no matter what kind of man he is, I believe that once he sits in this chair, he will always have the best interest of the country in mind.”

That—as the succeeding 20 years amply demonstrated—was the most egregiouos yet of Macapagal’s misjudgments; and as in many of his more blatant blunders, this, too, derived from his cock-eyed view of the world as hospitable and of men as honorable.

Macapagal insisted on seeing only the best in even the worst of men and building on what he imagined to be their virtues and merits. On the other hand, Marcos persisted in looking for the worst in even the brightest and the finest and playing on what he believed to be their darkest fears and grossest greed. This is the reason Macapagal committed mistakes, and Marcos committed sins.

The fundamental difference between the fifth President of the Republic and the sixth is this: Macapagal’s respect for the Filipino is almost mystical, while Marcos’s contempt for the Filipino is surely monumental. This surprises because it is Macapagal who was in rags reared while Marcos was amidst riches raised. Moreover, Macapagal during his presidency was the object of countless undeserved rebuffs from our people, while for much of his public life, Marcos was the subject of too much unwarranted adulation.

But Macapagal’s problem was, he lacked the charm to convince people of the sincerity of his intentions. And Marcos’ advantage was, he possessed the craft to conceal the malice of his motives.

Macapagal took pride in being of the people, Marcos in being above them. Macapagal; believed the people to be the source of national wisdom and consulted them frequently. He was more led than leader. Marcos regarded the people simply as the means to political power and corrupted them unconscionably. He was more manipulator than motivator.

Macapagal was obsessed with delivering our people from poverty, Marcos with assuring his place in posterity. Macapagal spoke of doing one’s duty and completing the “Unfinished Revolution” of Rizal, Bonifacio and Aguinaldo Marcos orated about being great again and building a New Society which starts with himself. Macapagal was moved by a vision from without, Marcos was driven by voices from within.

Macapagal gloried in being with the mases. From shaking hands with the unwashed thousands to whom he later opened the gates of Malacanang, he caught eczema and to conceal it, he took to wearing those outlandish lonmg=sleeved shirts Marcos poked fun at. Marcos recoiled from the masses. He enlarged the Palace guard into a regiment, ringed Malacanang with bayonets and tanks, installed intricate machines to rid its very air of human smell and human breath so that his kidneys would not be offended.

Before either of them became president, both already knew that the country’s problems couldn’t be addressed effectively without eliciting the displeasure of the mighty and the moneyed. Without hesitation, Macapagal lifted controls and risked the rebuke of the nationalists; moved Independence Day from July 4 to June 12—and alienated the Americans; prosecuted the oligarchs—and drew the slings and arrows of their outraged media; pushed through land reform—and earned the enmity of the landlords. There could be no second term for him.

Marcos took a lesson from this. To ensure his reelection, he spent his first term obliging the oligarchs, pandering to Washington, pampering the military, courting captains of industry, cultivating the media. Still, he found it necessary to put the land under martial law …..and yet the vast powers this gave him, availed him only a shameful entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

To Macapagal, all that a President was called upon to do is “add a fine stone to the edifice of the nation”; for his part, Marcos wanted to be both the architect and builder of the edifice—and, of course, a 40 per cent commission on every brick used thereon.

Macapagal’s fatal flaw was, he didn’t know the Filipino all that well and so was unable to serve their ends. Marcos’ crime –and for a President, this is unforgivable —was that he knew the Filipino only too well and so was able to fool them for so long.

Macapagal; failed in his bid to win the love of our people. That is HIS tragedy. Marcos, for a time, succeeded in his ploy to hold their trust. That is OUR tragedy.

Incidentally, my blog was down most of yesterday because of what seem to have been a series of spam attacks.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

11 thoughts on “Reflections

  1. it took me long to fully digest that article by Raul Gonzalez.

    I never realized that Diosdado Macapagal was that honorable…i now understand why his daughter look-up to him that much…

  2. I thank inquirer for ever being on the side of truth… no matter how painful these truths are…I salute and share the opinions of Mssrs. Quezon and de Quiroz, especially in the June 30 issue.

    I do not see the logic in the exile of Mike and Iggy Arroyo… what does this solve anyway?
    And what economic recovery has she talking about? The dollar was 40 before she walked in to the Palace… I hope she and her cohorts would stop making me feel like I’m dumb…I just do not have solutions in mind, i am praying for God’s intervention in this perilous times. I want change… from top to bottom… down to government office clerks who are “garapals”… down to the streets with the uniformed robbers…

    I hope this is ground zero so that there is nowhere else to go but up because people’s suffering are becoming destructive…We need people with clean conscience in government… I’m not seeking perfection because this is impossible.. I just hope more and more people will be vigilant to take a stand and press the need for righteous governance…

  3. dops, thats why we all hoped gma would do well.

    roane: thank you. it will be difficult for everyone.

    f: he’s alive, but ailing.

  4. when he was still active in your girondist grouphe he wrote me a very nice letter and that got me reading the tribune – just for his columns. If you see him, send him my best

  5. “Without hesitation, Macapagal lifted controls and risked the rebuke of the nationalists; moved Independence Day from July 4 to June 12—and alienated the Americans; prosecuted the oligarchs—and drew the slings and arrows of their outraged media; pushed through land reform—and earned the enmity of the landlords. There could be no second term for him.”

    What about GMA? How’s her dealing with Meralco and the Lopezes? With Cojuangco and San Miguel Corporation? With the oligarchs?

    Do we really need VAT? VAT is not popular and it will just make people suffer? Why is she passing the VAT?

    Why dont she scrap the VAT and let the deficit grow to 50 trillion? Most people dont care about the deficit, they care about VAT imposition only.

  6. arn, heard of the great depression where taxes rose up to 63 per cent? But of course, that was going overboard.

  7. speaking of google. all the references to
    mlq the first president and his quote made
    me realize how little I knew of him.
    standard high school history rendered
    him as one of the great presidents.

    possibly from Karnow. I have the impression
    of a playboy, a good dancer and dresser and
    little else.

    so I googled and found an interesting site
    featuring a write-up straight from that era.
    It is quite a vivid portrait and a very good
    read about our first president.
    manolo, I am sure you have read this already.

    but for those with a little time on their hands and who were ignorant of that era like myself:

    it is certainly interesting to compare and contrast with present occupant of the palace.

  8. james, that article was the first i ever read as a kid, my dad made me read it. oddly enough, the post you looked at has a connection with me. i posted it on an earlier version of this site; the owner of that site copied it from me, down to the typos i made while encoding it 😛

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