This morning, I sent this text message to friends: "My gut feel is politics, not justice, will prevail today. Erap will be convicted for a lesser offense. GMA will be happy-though not ecstatic- for the conviction; Erap will be happy for the lesser crime. Text later to jeer or cheer. Any decision, though, will have no bearing on our quality of life."
Erap got 40 years and I got a wake-up call that I'm no political psychic. None of my friends texted to jeer, perhaps not wanting to rub salt on a wounded ego. To my defense, even Madam Auring wrongly predicted her victory when she ran for an elective post! So what is the big deal? Let me off the hook already. Haha!
I still insist though that politics prevailed. I am not saying that Erap is innocent. Hey, I was a convenor of the Metro-Baguio Erap Resign Movement. An Erap acquittal would have been disastrous for the Filipino nation. It would have rubbished the people power demonstrated by the masses (which Rene Saguisag insists on calling the mob.) in 2000-2001. Erap would be vindicated. It would confirm beyond cavil what we already know: that the justice system in this country mercilessly operates against the poor, but the rich are triumphantly insulated from its wrath. The doubting Thomases could go the way of the vanishing Filipino crocodile - and I mean the ones native to Palawan that stop gobbling when their hunger is sated.
An Erap acquittal would also have spelled more disaster for the Arroyo administration which writhes from a hopeless chronic credibility problem even as its legitimacy continues to be haunted by the Hello, Garcinungaling scandal. The Erap cult would be rejuvenated more than ever, and they would be more audacious in launching destabilization (I did not say revolutionary or Bonifacioic) efforts. Certainly not good for the Makati Business Club. Etcetera.
Erap's camp is firm that to begin with, there never was any evidence to prove his guilt beyond moral certainty. Granting that it is right, the Sandiganbayan must have been caught between a rock and hard place. It chose the rock. Or the hard place. Whatever, it chose the politically correct one. (And my eyebrow would not be raised if one or more of the justices will be appointed to the Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court.)
Even before today, political psychics (the ones with track record and self-proclaimed ones like myself) were saying that if Erap would end up in a loop, he would be pardoned by the Palace like the prodigal son, complete with a feast and a new wardrobe. But Erap pre-empted any official offer of pardon: he would reject it because he is innocent and the Filipino people have acquitted him anyway. I do not know how he secured a popular acquittal after the enlightened crowd convicted him in 2001. I was probably out of this country or holed up in a health facility- in coma- when it happened. His repudiation of pardon offers rings hollow in my ears, even in their unclean state. I still remember how his close allies (except my classmate now Sen. Chiz Escudero and others) voted or made themselves scarce when they were confronted with the impeachment question in the House of Representatives. Prior to the casting of votes, they were deafeningly noisy in their lurid rhetorics against the self-appointed Queen as though the success of the GMA, Step Down! Movement rested on their shoulders. But when the official count began, they were either absent or good as absent. Coincidentally, they met with Erap, then fervently praying for a house arrest, in his Veteran (?) lair shortly before!
So something is brewing and it is a recipe detrimental to the welfare of the Filipino people.
In the case of Erap, his acquittal and his conviction are not opposites; they are two sides of the same coin. Like Erap and Gloria.
Like a hole in the head, neither is good for the Filipino people.
I wrote this while watching in a wellness facility the live telecast of Erap's sentencing (Would you believe that a senior citizen suffering from arthritis was actually in tears? Gosh, I almost shed tears myself not for Erap but because her tears, to me, are a pathetic display of the unenlightened's internalization of their oppression.):
On the streets, fury seeks wisdom
Justice weeps in a corner
One got ten pies
And left ten to a hungry hundred
Inside ivory towers,
dreams are being burned
robberies are being schemed
gold is being eaten by the epicurean
In the slums, old men cough
Children eat air and drink hunger
while mothers bake pan de sal
in their imagination
Our viewdeck trembles
We watched this
In another place
In another time
From a dim corner,
our destination is