Catch 22, Cronies, and Conspirators


By A S Agcaoili


The drama unfolding in the Philippines is a case of Catch 22: damned if you do, damned if you don’t—and the dilemma is unruly, between extremes, and there are nor gainers but losers if this crisis is not going to be handled properly.

The problem is that those involved in this brouhaha are cronies and conspirators—and only some such well-meaning citizens whose love for the country is contingent upon the country’s love for them in terms of benefits.

True, we have exiled a first gentleman of the first order to defuse the situation that makes heroes out of questionable characters and makes villains out of persons who have only goodness in their hearts.

True, we also have exiled a first son whose hands and pockets are allegedly tainted with grease money of the dirty kind.

True, we have reined in the brother-in-law’s power—absolute as per the impression of oppositionists and freedom watchers and those whose have nothing to do with the redemption of our people except protect their own interests—and that somehow the raging waters of our political life are calmer now.

But the truth of the matter now is that this Catch 22 situation has not been contained. The social volcano is active—and the layers and layers of our silenced and muffled rage are like the embers that are ready to explode. This is why sobriety and tolerance at this time are virtues rather than vices.

In this situation of either/or—with not many choices except to regard the lesser evil, we are alluded to the Abraham dilemma of offering his son to his God or saving his son’s life by turning his back to demand of his God. There is not much more difficult dilemma than this: When a people’s option is between extremes. In this sense, we take a leap—a leap of faith, a faith in ourselves and in what we can do to save ourselves, a leap of faith in our leaders who are sincere, honest, caring, and fair. If there are still some of them left. Well, there is not many of them left—and the number of cronies and conspirators are more than what we can bear. They are the crosses the country must bear forever if political purgation does not happen soon.

The big trouble with us is that we have allowed the cronies to come back and reclaim their kingdoms and fiefdoms.

Economic monarchs, these—and political monarchs too.

They are chameleons—they adapt to any interest, any party, any ambition, any power play that can assure them of a role and a reward.

They insist on their love for the country—and they even present themselves as oblations for our full redemption: our offering for our freedom—or our ministers who are on the ready to serve us.

Their sanctimonious speeches and those statements that land as quotes in the major papers are evidentiary documents to their calculated undertaking to make us believe that, indeed they are the masters who are on the ready to serve us—us the masses, us the people who lost everything: dignity, grace, blessing.

What is left with us is the dream that does not die: the dream that one day soon, the story of our imagining the country will be better, the story of our lives will not be bitter and sordid, the story of our salvation will end with a salving grace.

But this drama of political destruction leaves us a bad taste in the mouth with the conspirators plotting to position themselves in power, cornering that which makes them more powerful, more invincible, their names eventually immortalized by our obeisance, our bowing down, our recognition of our smallness because of their “bigness” and that therefore, we ought to kneel down before them, these big men of the republic, these cronies and conspirators conniving to make us their slaves and underlings forever.

The cronies brought us to this story—or they played a big role in bankrolling the cost of our political perdition. They are to count the assets and liabilities, the bill of particulars, the pros and cons of their waging war against that which is just and fair and they can even proclaim their innocence before the suffering masses.

The cronies are good in the ritual of washing of the hands. Never mind the washing of their feet—the hand that shakes is all that matters because this act of shaking can land on the best and visible parts of the crony newspaper and the crony radio and the crony television.

Think of media exposure here.

Think of media mileage.

Think of how our minds are molded to conform to their image of us, to shape our consciousness like their own by making us believe that we are beneficiaries too of the good graces of the gods in palaces, in senates, and in congresses.

The trouble starts here.

Because we ourselves have become conspirators to this grand masquerade, this low burlesque, this low-brow comedy that makes the big men the saviors of our race.

Because we make it possible for the cronies and conspirators to thrive—and we can only offer a weak protest: Kasi, kasi, kasi kayo naman!

Because, whether we like it or not, we the thinking and critical masses must go through that ritual of breast beating as well—even as we call a spade a spade.

The Cabinet men will desert the Palace of our possible redemption—if things are done right. They have done so. But they allowed the resident of the Palace to wield power in the way they now abhor. They should beat their breast as well.

Where does this Catch 22 situation lead us to? We can only say: Kapit sa patalim, kabayan!

We need the courage to re-create our imagination as a people. Now. If we need to impeach the President, let us impeach her. Perhaps we will be able to have access to a bleaker story of the machinations of power against us—not only by the President if we believe in the stories—but also by other big men who have never regarded us as their kababayan in the first place.

Perhaps, one lesson we can learn is that we will begin to understand what civics and citizenship really mean.

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