It was a pitiful sight: the old man Guingona, soaked to the skin, and showing his age. And yet I must also confess to a vague discomfort whenever I hear his son on the radio or see him on TV. Nothing recommends Rep. Teofisto Guingona III except his illustrious name. Thus, when I read the congressman’s statement yesterday, I was moved by his filial devotion, but at the same time I caught myself thinking: It should have been the son’s turn at the front line. Surely his father had done enough.
One of the things I remember most from last year’s elections was the drama in Guingona’s district in Bukidnon. A long-time oppositionist was running for another term in office, as the official candidate of Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino. Enter FPJ and his running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda. Through a political maneuver, the Estrada loyalist suddenly became the unofficial opposition candidate. As it turns out, part of the price FPJ paid for the opportunity to welcome Legarda’s close friend, Vice President Guingona, on board, was the Bukidnon seat for his son.
So much for the politics of principle. True, it is a subject which the young Guingona will perorate on at the drop of a hat (indeed, that’s how he found himself in a position to lecture all and sundry on the politics of courage and decency, by essentially throwing his FPJ-protected hat into a ring the lines of which his father had redrawn).
"There are no warm friendships nor serious alliances with this woman," [Rep. Guingona] said [referring to the President]. "Only frigid temporary alliances of conveniences."
As a certain Estrada loyalist may confirm, Guingona speaks from, ah, deep personal experience.
I have agreed with quite a number of Star editorials, but yesterday’s was just plain wrong.
On a busy Friday, payday, traffic was again at a standstill in many parts of the city of Manila. Why? Because there was another anti-government rally in Mendiola. The usual people who surely hold no steady jobs and don’t go to school since they can afford to stage rallies daily were augmented by a small bunch of individuals suffering from acute lack of public attention.
The argument from inconvenience has been raised before; it does not acquire new force merely because the particular inconvenience in question happened on a "payday." Almost by definition, the use of the democratic space available to citizens may inconvenience others who live in that space. That is simply the price of democracy.
The closing off of certain streets in Manila to honor Filipinos who have brought honor not only to the city but to the country, such as Manny Pacquiao or Lara Quigaman, also caused some inconvenience. Should we allow this kind of inconvenience only because there are no water cannons or fundamental civil liberties involved?
To be sure, the main headline in yesterday’s issue was about the rally: the son of ex-Vice President Teofisto Guingona called the violent dispersal an act of tyranny and oppression. But that choice of story does not, at least in my view, redeem yesterday’s editorial, or the false dichotomy foisted on the reader by its last paragraph.
The protesters last Friday, however, were not just after expressing a message in their usual inarticulate, infantile way that leaves no room for intelligent debate. They wanted maximum disruption of other people’s lives. Was their dispersal state repression? Only if you think being a public nuisance is an inalienable right.
As those who loiter by this newsstand already know, I have a thing about anonymous comments. I welcome them, but I am temperamentally unable to respond to them, at least not with any consistency. But someone who frequents this intersection, Jojo Abinales, dances rather nimbly with ghosts. This comment thread, for example, is a crash course on recent and not-so-recent CPP-NPA-NDF history.