On being predictable

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Sunday, August 3, 2014


LESS than two years to go and this is getting to be predictable. I am referring to the coverage of the Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III presidency. I actually got this impression while scanning the headlines of newspapers, especially ones emanating from Metro Manila, hung in our town’s newsstand.

Here’s one: “2015 budget an election tool.”

I checked the source of that sweeping claim and it came from former national treasurer Leonor Briones, who is with a nongovernment organization, Social Watch Philippines.

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She is also professor emeritus in public administration of the University of the Philippines. The latter two credentials might be what qualify her statements as usually front page material.

But Briones was national treasurer under the administration of deposed president and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada. Her stint ended a few weeks after Erap was ousted in 2001 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took over. I don’t know how much of that shaped her views of succeeding presidents.

In one of the impeachment complaints filed against P-Noy, a prominent signatory was former Lingayen-Dagupan (Pangasinan) archbishop Oscar Cruz. He was outspoken when he was archbishop and is still outspoken now as archbishop emeritus. But even before he speaks, one already knows where his views tilt. He does not speak for the Catholic Church, but he is with the church, so that’s about it.

In the Supreme Court (SC ) ruling that declared portions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional, the court’s most senior magistrate, Antonio Carpio, issued a separate opinion. Carpio concurred with the High Court’s decision but offered further explanations, or views if you will, that can be considered but icing on the cake.

Carpio would have been chief justice now had not P-Noy bypassed him and chose as chief magistrate the legal practitioner that several months before he appointed as associate justice. The talk was that all or most senior magistrates resented the President’s move. I don’t know how that played into the way he framed his separate opinion. Maybe it just fit snugly into the intentions of P-Noy’s critics.

I am not including here the predictability of the views of many other news sources, including those of my militant friends of old and their organizations.

No, I did not say that the opinions of the usual news sources should not be respected.

They are mostly sharp of mind and are very analytical and knowledgeable. That’s why their views and analyses are able to shape public discourse at times. What I am saying is that considering the number of stories propped up by their statements through the years, or even just months, one already knows where their tilt is.

That can also be said of officials belonging to the Aquino administration and of their political allies. When they speak, one can always be sure they will be defending the President’s every move.

Having said that, I know some of my readers-cum-critics will be amused while looking at my mug adorning this column. I am sure they will be saying that I can be predictable, too.

I am not hiding the fact that I was among those who viewed favorably Aquino’s candidacy in 2010. And I do want him to succeed, considering what we’ve been through under the Erap and Arroyo presidencies.

But I am also an advocate of the gray—not of the purely white or purely black. This is not, after all, a battle between the purely evil and the purely good. This is a battle for the truth. It’s not just about providing balance between one claim as against the opposing claim but endeavoring to come up with a more objective appraisal of issues and events.

I may have failed at times, but that’s only because of the lack of available facts.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 04, 2014.

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