This Sad Episode In Our History



Laymen and legal advocates alike felt how the prosecution in Erap’s trial failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt which gives credence to Erap’s claim that the Special Division of the Sandiganbayan was created purposely to convict him of the plunder charge. But despite that, people believe that Erap will nevertheless be convicted of plunder at all cost.  And so he was.  Today.

The popular notion is that Erap’s acquittal will be fatal to GMA’s seat. Of course, this fear is baseless. The Supreme Court, in 2001, has already categorically closed any hint of unconstitutionality to GMA’s succession to Erap’s throne and lest may we forget, the 2004 Elections has come and passed – GMA was declared President by virtue of the ballots despite the challenges alleging irregularities (I will not discuss Garci).

Earlier, Press Secretary Bunye made a simple statement just after the promulgation of judgment. Let us try to dissect the simplicity of this statement in the height of Erap’s conviction:

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said it would respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court that convicted former president Joseph Estrada of plunder and called on the public not to be distracted from “this sad episode in our history.”

We bow to the decision of the Sandiganbayan. We hope and pray that the rule of law will prevail,” President Gloria Macapagl-Arroyo’s spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

Meantime, we have a country to run, an economy to grow, and a peace to win. We hope this said episode in our history will not permanently distract us from these goals,” Bunye said. (From:

Maybe Machiavelli is part of the philosophy of the said statement. In the Prince, Machiavelli emphasized the need of a ruler not to cause or attempt to cause hatred of the people against him, thus:

“[T]he prince must consider … how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he will have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other reproaches.” (That One Should Avoid Being Despised or Hated, Chapter XIX, The Prince by Nicolò Machiavelli, c. 1505, p. 1515, Translated by W.K. Marriott, 1908)

Yes, GMA may appear to commiserate with Erap’s plight. But this, I think, is because she could not do any better – short of saying there is no other proper thing to do for a fair reaction – being the person personally affected by the trial’s outcome. I think she made the right decision of just making this statement despite the influx of memories, pseudo-patriotic tendencies and geopolitical trends.

Moving on, this really is a sad part in our history. I saw SP Dennis M. Villa-Ignacio on television saying how this trial is a trial of the judicial system. That, according to him, this trial shows that the judicial system in this country works even to the point when the highest ranking official (president) of the land may be meted with penalty under the rule of the law. How could he say that? It appears to me that he doubts the judicial system to the point of putting it to trial. I hope I am mistaken but his comment made me sad. What if the Sandiganbayan ruled in favor of Erap in the plunder charge? Does this mean that the justice system has failed?

In the same press statement, Bunye said that “[m]eantime, we have a country to run, an economy to grow, and a peace to win.” Truly, public opinion and the politics of the masses has already left the care of Malacañang. The business of the government is far more to be preferred than the self-satisfaction of its political consumers. It may, however, mean to be a defensive offense that Malacañang is painting on the minds of the people and the international community – that everything is under control and yes, it is business as usual.

Above all these, Malacañang has accepted the fact that it was “distracted” by this trial. This is the import of saying “[w]e hope that this … will not permanently distract us..”. Yes, we were distracted but not permanently? How could this be? Lessons learned and thereafter forget history? No, maybe just don’t get permanently distracted? Whatever that means. Please don’t blunder even more the weary hearts and minds of the masses.

Now there is something left in cold blank space. A hallow created by the series of one-sided drama this whole trial has been. I don’t even see any moral for the story. I only see a pattern of personifications of political mediocrity running after one another.

I beg to have a chance to clear my conscience. I think this is the gut-feeling running all throughout this “sad episode in our history.”

While I was about to end this post, a news item from came up. Now, let us cheer the stock exchange with a happy face because “the market is up by 40 points” brought about by Erap’s conviction! And I still have to worry-paranoid-check about my pockets everytime I ride the jeepney. Makes sense, huh?


graphics: cosmicadobo of


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