Suppose you’re an opposition senator and suppose further that you’re an idiot. But, as Mark Twain would have said, I repeat myself.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is certainly no idiot, declared yesterday that he voted in favor of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao after watching a video of homegrown terrorists plotting the takeover of Marawi City. This was the same video obtained by the Associated Press which formed the basis for an excellent report on the Marawi siege by that wire agency’s veteran Filipino reporter, Jim Gomez.
According to Lacson, the video was shown by top security officials of the Duterte administration to members of the Senate in an executive session prior to a vote on the martial law proclamation. At the time, the senator related, the video—which showed elusive terrorist Isnilon Hapilon and his top wingmen, brothers Omarkhayyam and Abdullah Maute, and others planning the siege of Marawi on the back of a paper calendar using blue-ink markers—was classified information.
But now that the military has apparently decided to declassify the video by giving it to Gomez and AP, Lacson has spoken up. And what he said was unflattering, to say the least, to his colleagues who did not approve of the martial law proclamation.
“This video footage, among other disclosures in the security briefing made by top security officials of the Duterte administration during our executive caucus, is what made me decide to vote in favor of the martial law proclamation in Mindanao,” Lacson said. “Our colleagues who still oppose the martial law proclamation either did not understand the gravity of the security threat posed by the rebellion in the south, or they are simply opposed to anything that President Duterte does.”
Fully 17 senators approved of Duterte’s martial law proclamation, by the way. The objectors were members of the Liberal Party or allied with it.
What Lacson is saying is that the senators who voted to reject the imposition of military rule in Mindanao, made after Hapilon and the Mautes started destroying Marawi’s churches, hospitals and other vital facilities in a bid to claim it for the Islamic State, had the same information that he did. But still they voted against Duterte’s Proclamation 216, which he finds incomprehensible.
So these senators saw but did not understand, or were so blinded by their opposition to Duterte that, according to Lacson, they really could not see. Either way, according to Twain’s definition, that would make them idiots—or at the very least, totally, irreparably blind.
I must say that no right-thinking Filipino would fail to appreciate the importance of the video in making the case that Hapilon, the Mautes and their fellow IS wannabes were planning a rebellion in Marawi. This single piece of information destroys the contention of some senators, most notably Risa Hontiveros, that no rebellion has taken place in the Muslim-dominated city, thus making the imposition of martial law unnecessary.
But I doubt very much if Lacson’s sermon to his colleagues will make them change their ways, never mind if they have once again been unmasked as hopelessly partisan or even, no matter how unfairly, terrorist supporters. Apart from being blind, these senators have also earned a reputation for being deaf—to reason, to evidence and to everything else that is not in tune with their agenda.
But wait a second. What if we, the people and majority of the senators, are the idiots, because we fail to see what the Yellow senators, in their individual and collective perspicacity, do not?
You know what? I don’t think so.
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Speaking of the political opposition, a hilarious online meme showing Senator Antonio Trillanes and his sidekick, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano holding up a piece of paper between them has gone viral. Various permutations of the caption allege that the two somber-looking, dark-suited lawmakers went to the Netherlands in order to be joined in a same-sex marriage, which the Dutch allow but which Filipinos don’t.
The scathingly witty meme is, of course, false. But its message resonates with those who believe that the opposition has become so thoroughly irrelevant, it has devolved into the object of derisive laughter.
Trillanes and Alejano did go to The Hague this week to file a supplemental complaint before the International Criminal Court, which they are asking to prosecute Duterte for high crimes. Why they thought that effort was important at a time like this, when terrorists are laying waste to Marawi and attacking innocent people all over the world, only Trillanes and Alejano can really explain.
You can’t fault the persistence of these former coup leaders who have since exchanged their fatigues for business suits, though. While the rest of the country has debunked their risible quest to remove Duterte based on their discredited complaints and witnesses and is now cowering in the infinitely more real fear of terrorism, Trillanes and Alejano soldier on, unmindful of how pathetically partisan they appear.
Move along now. Nothing to see here but two serious-looking political clowns reprising their tired old act in another country.