The Filipino people are at a crossroads in their political lives. The impeachment trial of Chief Justice (CJ) Corona will resume on March 12, which gives us time to think how we have gotten to this point. GRP personified benign0 gives us an idea here.
Let us recall what has happened in the last two weeks. Evidence presented by the prosecution got thrown out. Secretary de Lima struggled with her testimony. The prosecution dropped five out of their eight original articles of impeachment. Senator Miriam Santiago delivered her most ear-wrenching lecture yet (gago!). Vitallano Aguirre made the mistake of covering his ears just to keep from hearing one of Santiago’s lectures, which in turn earned him a citation in contempt of court. He resigned from the prosecution panel shortly thereafter.
In summary, the prosecution’s case is going rather well.
We the Filipino people, in a way are involved in a trial of our own. We stand accused of not thinking for ourselves these last 26 years. We stand accused of being responsible for our own lack of progress. We stand accused of not taking our destinies into our own hands as a people. We stand accused of squandering opportunities that have come to improve our way of life.
In short, we stand accused of paving the road towards our own demise.
CJ Corona’s case has clearly divided us. There are those who have pre-judged the CJ even if the trial has not yet finished, and there are those who have come to appreciate the law, the idea of due process, and the idea of three coequal branches of government, for what they really stand for. We have seen our Senators rise to the occasion, and for some, fall flat on their faces. Whatever the verdict will be, Filipino society will never be the same.
In one of my previous articles, I enjoyed the exercise of drawing parallels between a fictional work, and our current state of Philippine politics. I thought I would do it again here.
Our reference this time is the very noteworthy film, A Few Good Men. It stars Tom Cruise and Demi Moore as Judge Advocate General (JAG) lawyer Kaffee and Naval Investigator Galloway, respectively. Jack Nicholson stars, in perhaps one of his most memorable roles, as Colonel Jessup. Plot summary here.
The story follows the trial of two United States Marine Corps (USMC) soldiers, Downey and Dawson, who are being investigated for murder following the death of a fellow Marine, Willy Santiago. They were stationed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, where the commanding officer is Colonel Jessup. If you think about it, the two defendants can represent two types of Filipino citizens. I will elaborate on this later.
The courtroom scene towards the end is the source for one of the best lines in film ever. After Kaffee caught Jessup in one of his own lies, he decided that the time was ripe to force the colonel to admit ordering a Code Red, a euphemism for an extrajudicial punishment. Although he was close to being cited in contempt of court, he felt he could get the colonel to admit it.
Jessup: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!!!
Jessup: You can’t handle the truth!!!
Substitute President Aquino (PNoy) for Jessup, and a Concerned citizen (cross-examiner) for Kaffee, and take any scenario of his being caught in an awkward situation where he had been inconsistent, or inadvertently shown his own bias (take your pick):
PNoy: You want answers?
Cross-examiner: I want the truth!!!
Pnoy: You can’t handle the truth!!!
After that, Jessup delivers a short speech where he regards Kaffee as disrespectful of Marines doing their duty. It’s not too far from the notion of PNoy disrespecting his critics, isn’t it? Kaffee continues anyway.
Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?!?!?!?
Jessup: You’re goddamn right I did!!!
Now, let’s define “Code Red” in our own context. We can make Code Red stand for COrona DEcision (on Hacienda Luisita) REDone, or COrona DEposed, REputation Destroyed. I leave it up to the readers to think of their own terms. The significance of this phrase to us is that even just by dragging him through an impeachment trial, PNoy has effectively killed not just the career of CJ Corona, but of anyone who has an opinion that he does not like. Do the same role substitutions, and we get the following exchange:
Cross-examiner: Did you order the Code Red?!?!?!?
PNoy: You’re goddamn right I did!!!
As for the defendants, they were found not guilty of murder, but they were not able to avoid dishonorable discharge, due to being guilty of conduct unbecoming of a Marine. The difference lies in the way each of them accepted the verdict:
Downey: Colonel Jessup said he ordered the Code Red!!! What did we do wrong?!?!?!? We did nothing wrong!!!
Dawson: Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy.
I mentioned earlier that the two Marines on trial can symbolize two types of Filipino citizens. Downey represents a Filipino who just blindly follows his leaders’ words and nothing else. Dawson symbolizes a Filipino who, in the end, had learned to discern between right and wrong, between what his duty is and what he should not do, albeit too late.
It’s interesting to note, by the way, that the USMC motto is Semper fidelis, which means “always loyal” in Latin. I wonder how much longer PNoy’s supporters will be able to feel that for him.
While we are talking movie references, let’s mention the sci-fi classic, Tron.. I am referring to the very first film, released in 1982, not the sequel from 2010. Let’s proceed to the scene where the security program, Tron, is doing battle with the main villain’s assistant, Sark.
Sark: You’re very persistent, Tron!
Tron: I’m also better than you!
Now substitute Corona for Tron, and PNoy for Sark. Hey, even the roles that they play fit! We get the following dialogue:
PNoy: You’re very persistent, Corona!
Corona: I’m also better than you!
Those familiar with the movie will probably find more parallels between it and our current political situation, but I won’t go through them in detail here. I leave it as an exercise to the readers (hint: Master Control Program (MCP) = oligarchs).
Lastly, I just want to mention that it’s a given in these forums, that we get the occasional commenters who just do not get it. There are some who have the gall to keep insisting that we are too concerned about the procedures of the impeachment trial, instead of focusing on the truth. An example of such a statement, below:
“And all of you are making a controversy out of the PROCEDURE while missing the goal and the crux of the matter which is the TRUTH. How pathetic. I’m out of here.“
If your data is flawed, then your conclusion is flawed, that simple. This is non-negotiable for anything that has to go through a systematic procedure, such as a court trial. If you don’t follow a systematic procedure, you’re doing no better than a witch hunt. People like the above-mentioned will never be able to appreciate, nor understand that.
Once again, that epic exchange from A Few Good Men plays in my head:
“I want the truth!!!”
“You can’t handle the truth!!!”
PNoy, his prosecution team, his supporters, and anyone who does not want to think, do not look very capable of handling the truth. The case against CJ Corona has just gotten even flimsier. The house of cards is about to come crashing down.