I follow Vice Ganda on Twitter and have to admit that most of the time, I don’t know what the hell he’s tweeting about. Imagine my surprise, then, at his post last Monday (July 28) alleging that participants to the big anti-PNoy SONA rally were bribed with rice money to attend the protest.
Knowing for a fact that this was untrue, I replied that on the contrary, it was the politicians inside Congress that were bribed with billions of the President’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds, to which Vice Ganda retorted that those who didn’t get their share of the pork were “tumatalak.”
Of course Vice Ganda is entitled to his wrong opinion. Wrong because in truth, the most vociferous critics of the DAP in Congress – my colleagues in the Makabayan bloc – were recipients of DAP-funded projects too. Their “pagtatalak” was not because they didn’t get any but that the Palace was never fortright about the source of the funds and deluded everyone into thinking that everything was legal and aboveboard. In fact, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares even withdrew his nomination of some Bayan Muna projects upon learning that these were funded by the President’s pork barrel, probably the only congressman who refused a DAP project.
Perhaps Vice Ganda is unaware that the anti-DAP struggle is not mere “pagtatalak.” Since the pork barrel scam exploded last year, there have been scores of rallies mobilizing thousands of people against the President’s defense of the corrupt practice. Bills and resolutions have been filed in Congress opposing PDAF and DAP. Both forms of pork were challenged in the Supreme Court, which unanimously declared them unconstitutional and illegal. An impeachment complaint against the President has been initiated on the DAP and a people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system is in the offing, aiming to pass a law to prohibit lump sum, discretionary items in the national budget.
In other words, there is an honest to goodness effort by a broad range of groups and personalities to abolish the corrupt pork barrel system. Pagtatalak? Seems more like people power to me.
But Vice Ganda’s reaction was typical. Like many who watched the President deliver his 5th SONA that day, Vice was touched by Aquino’s effort to hold back the tears even as sister Kris openly wept in the gallery. Indeed, how can the son of Ninoy and Cory, the one who never aspired to be president, ever do wrong?
Aquino’s supporters believe that since he is personally clean and his intentions pure, then anyone against him can only be corrupt, malicious or both. They cannot fathom why anyone would question the President’s policies and programs and so resort to the simplistic view that we are either Gloria fanatics, Binay supporters, Marcos loyalists, communist terrorists, misguided reformists, fundamentalist pro-Lifers or part of the unthinking masses that can be bought with a kilo of rice. This is not surprising because the President himself ignores and discredits his critics, going so far as to ascribe malice in the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision vs the DAP.
I have seen how Aquino’s defenders and their yellow troll army have swamped social media with the line that the President’s critics are not only wrong but evil. When these people hear the word impeachment, all they see is a plot to hoist Jejomar Binay or Joma Sison up the throne.
Whenever I post critical comments on Twitter, Facebook or my blog, there will always be those who will say “Shut up, you’re a communist” or “What have you done for the country anyway” or “But you used your PDAF too so you have no right to criticize” or even “Tumahimik ka, bakla!” Such ad hominem attacks don’t address the issues I raise at all but merely question my motives, my character or my political beliefs. That’s par for the course (I eat criticism myself for breakfast) but I hope they stick to the issue.
Unfortunately for them, most people still believe that criticism is important in any system of governance. Critics expose the holes that needs to be plugged. The ones who shout when one strays from the straight and righteous path. Critics come in all shapes, sizes and colors but at the end of the day, people know that it’s the message that’s more important than the messenger, the critique that’s more important than the critic.
Remember the story of the emperor’s new clothes? No one knows the kid’s name who said “The emperor has no clothes!” I often wonder whatever happened to him. Was he told to shut up by his relatives? Was he branded a traitor, a rebel, a rabble rouser? Was he arrested? Was his head cut off? We will never know. Everyone will agree, though: he was the hero.#