Silence and noise
I was waiting for Vice President Leni Robredo to restate on her position opposing any new official investigation of the Mamasapano Massacre, now that President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a fact-finding commission on the sensational incident. For the moment, it seems, Robredo has decided that prudence is the better part of the Yellow Medal of Valor that she wears.
Yesterday, Robredo was once again in safe motherhood mode, discussing what political scientists call the “soft power” of women in a speech at the Asia Women’s Summit. Riffing on the women’s marches against new US President Donald Trump, Robredo called for the empowerment of women in a still-patriarchal Philippine society.
It’s not as if Robredo has decided that she will no longer express views that are in open opposition to Duterte’s. Just a few days ago, Robredo asked the President not to antagonize the Catholic Church—a call that only made Duterte castigate clergymen once again in his speech in Malacañang before the relatives of the 44 slain SAF troopers.
And it was only early last year that Robredo said she saw no need to reopen yet another investigation of the massacre in Maguindanao. Robredo, who was campaigning for the vice presidency when she made the statement, said a lot of time had already been spent looking into the matter and that there was really no compelling reason to do so.
It’s perfectly possible that Robredo realizes that she cannot reiterate her opposition to any new investigation of the slaughter of the SAF 44, now that she is no longer a candidate entirely dependent on the Liberal Party and Noynoy Aquino. Especially since Duterte has indicated that Aquino’s involvement as the official who approved and oversaw the implementation of Oplan Exodus will be the focus of the new probe, I guess Robredo understands that she really should dodge this particular bullet if she can.
It’s certainly inconceivable that Robredo now refuses to comment on something, given her record of riding on every burning issue that her PR strategists want her to ride. But I think that, for once, she concedes that the massacre is not something that she can attack Duterte about —and she is certainly not inclined to agree with something that the President has said.
Given the prevailing sentiment in favor of getting to the bottom of the wholesale execution of the SAF 44, Robredo also knows that she cannot restate her opposition to any new probe, never mind if it goes very well with her policy of knee-jerk opposition to Malacañang. So I fully expect Robredo to just flash her sweetest, cutest smile when asked about Mamasapano and, as the young people say these days, “shut up na lang.”
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But while Robredo, the supposed leader of the opposition, has apparently taken a vow of silence, some of her most vocal self-appointed sidekicks have decided to weigh in on the massacre case reopening. Senator Antonio Trillanes and ex-pop singer Jim Paredes, to name just two, have come up with the strange theory that Duterte has called for a new probe in order to distract people from the killing of a South Korean businessman inside Camp Crame.
But in order for this theory to make sense, Duterte would have had to just suddenly declared that he wanted a new Mamasapano investigation. He would not have said during the campaign that he would reopen the case if he became president, nor would he offer the Medal of Valor to the 42 out of the 44 SAF commandos who were killed by Moro rebels during that same time.
It would make no sense for Duterte to call the relatives of the SAF 44 to Malacañang from all over the country on the eve of the second anniversary of the massacre. If he was just diverting the public’s attention, he would not have to say he was giving out the medals posthumously and that he was constituting a probe body patterned after the Agrava Commission—both of which he promised to do.
But Trillanes and Paredes are just engaging in their usual trolling when they unveiled their latest conspiracy theory. How, after all, could the death of one Korean by some corrupt cops be compared to the slaughter of 44 elite policemen because of an insensitive, incompetent president who was “ultimately responsible” for the massacre, as the Senate said?
To paraphrase a relative of the Yellows’ fairy godmother in New York, any statement coming from Trillanes, Paredes and their kind doesn’t really have to be true. They just have to make it sound like it is.
However, the days are long gone when the newspapers would suddenly come up with news about Noynoy Aquino’s latest supposed “love interest” whenever he got in trouble. And diversionary propaganda reached its height (or its absolute nadir), after all, during the Aquino years, when we were bombarded with reports of glowing credit ratings and other great-sounding economic news, while people were foraging in garbage cans for leftover food thrown away by restaurants.
The “sundalong kanin” of the Yellows are still at it, seeing phantasmagorical cover-ups in their own minds while somehow failing to cast even a passing glance at the proverbial elephant in the room—and the biggest cover-up of all time: The effort by the entire Aquino government to pretend that the killing of 44 policemen never happened.