There are two ways by which we can look at the Philippines in light of the SEA Games and in the recent development of the political circus that pertain to the promise of a closure of the “Hello Garci” scandal.

The charge, for instance, of Thailand, that something fishy was going on the way the Philippines was hauling the gold is something that is symptomatic of something else.

And now, here comes the much maligned Comelec commissioner come-backing and saying, among others, that it is his duty to cut it clean and come out with a clean slate—a tabula Rasa negating all that has been said about and against him, his political “operatorship,” and his other political dealings.

We call this coming out immaculate again after much stain and muck thrown against your name and shadow.

The commissioner said he will prove—and he has been reported to have written a book to document his own brand of truth—that he is innocent, unblemished and spotless after all this protracted political drama that has almost cost Gloria Macapagal Arroyo the presidency and the Filipino people their own will and courage to overcome all these seemingly insurmountable problems.

For one, the Comelec is a constitutional commission and as such, it is expected that its members are to possess sterling qualities and aptitude to public service.

With the charge of Thailand about our cheating, we need to think again—think again and revisit the qualifications of our public servants including those manning the fort of our sports development programs.

We can dismiss Thailand’s claim as a clear case of sour-graping.

And for a reason.

With Thailand having all the stakes at this time, with that aim of doing a back-to-back championship that will mean so much in terms of its sports leadership in the South East Asian region, Thailand, understandably, can only watch from the sidelines as the Philippines keeps on increasing its gold haul.

Even as Thailand watches from the sidelines with much envy—presuming it envies the gold haul that should have been theirs if the games were played fair and square, the public perception gets uglier.

For the Philippines to maintain its leadership role in the SEA, it should look at this charge beyond the knee-jerk reaction to dismiss the accusation.

For that charge could be symptomatic of a grander problem and that grander problem could have something to do with how the Philippines is being publicly perceived by the other 10 SEA counties.

The charge seems to be shrouded in mystery—some kind of a baseless accusation and yet also something that one cannot easily shake off.

The basis could be tenuous—but in public life, everything is a play of impressions and perceptions as is the case of the play of politics everywhere.

The goings-on in the country, with this alleged cheating even in the highest of office of the land, could come off-tangent as some kind of a vague reference to the accusation.

There is basis for the public perception, however oblique the basis is.

Whether that public perception has resulted from the manipulation of data and images and information is another matter.

There is smoke in the land—and it may not necessarily be in the games.

We see the connection here.

We see the contradictions.

We fail in imagining a better place for our citizens in the Philippines, we expect other people in other countries to point out our wrong-doing.

We may not have cheated—we hope we did not—to our victory to the 23rd SEA Games.

But we have yet to account the honorable man Garci who has yet to say his piece as he promised.

And we have yet to read his book too.

History will not be silent.

Pub, INQ, V1N24, Dec 2005

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