THE President signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) providing for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR). The development triggered puns along the lines of “Now the BOL is in your court” and “It’s time to set the BAR high for the Bangsamoro.”

The news that quoted Special Assistant to the President Bong Go offering contrary information on the status of the BOL could have easily spawned quips like “Duterte: BOL Go; but Go: No.”

The ouster of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the takeover by former President Gloria Arroyo have been explained by a joke that traces the shuffle ostensibly to Joyce Bernal’s innocent request for a “maliit na Bose speaker” to replace the faulty sound system in the Batasang Pambansa.

We roll our eyes at puns but they have a place in the many ways to which we take recourse to survive political tragicomedy.

Puns allow us to poke humor at situations, actors involved, and ourselves. In the process, we are reminded that nothing and no one are so sacred that they cannot be undone. That our smiles and laughter are the chinks and breaks through which the energies of change enter.

Wordplay cuts across the political spectrum. The successful use of Du30 as homophone for the candidate, and the claim that after Comelec’s proclamation of the May 2016 national elections results it should no longer be used because clearly Du31 are examples.

But Arroyo’s capture of the 4th highest position of the land is more problematic than those who orchestrated and executed the musical chair would have us believe. She gained a platform to bid for premiership under a federal arrangement, the next political project. If that happens, Arroyo would be the only head of Philippine State disgraced by plunder charges to have made such a high-level comeback.

It is not only Arroyo’s political career that is going through revival. So are draconian measures associated with and instigated during her time. Warrants of arrest against former party-list representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño both of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis for clearly fabricated murder charges filed by Arroyo’s government in 2006 have been resuscitated.

Puns could also take on visual forms. Two memes that came out of the House coup are of Arroyo cupping her hands to her mouth to be heard, and another one that included a smiling Ilocos Norte provincial Governor Imee Marcos. Among the best recent recursive puns I heard credits President Duterte for being inclusive because when he came into power he brought with him the Arroyos and the Marcoses.

Tragicomedy has been described as “a tragic play which contains enough comic elements to lighten the overall mood or a serious play with a happy ending.” If we want it to be the second, we have to do something about the jokes being played on us as a people.

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