Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Friday, November 25, 2016

This evening’s “Black Friday" rally” in rainy Luneta could be first of such protest rallies by millennials around the country, judging from their militancy. House hearing with Dayan reaps enormous criticisms from tri-media and netizens for concentrating more on salacious details of his love affair with Sen. De Lima, instead of building state case vs. illegal drugs and corruption. The "Lower House" truly lives up to its name.

Ateneo Prof. Tony La Vina and fellow rallyists (photo from Dean Tony La Vina)

A huge streamer at tonight's "Black Friday Rally" at the Luneta (as posted by Dean La Vina)

I failed to join this evening’s “Black Friday" rally” at the Luneta against the burial of the late President Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani because of the rains, but I watched it over TV and it brought back this déjà vu feeling all over again, just as it did when I rushed to the LNMB last Nov. 18 to protest the late dictator’s hush-hush burial. I was quite happy tonight to see all the students rallying and voicing their sentiments vs. the burial, undaunted by rains and though most of them were born a generation apart from the dictator’s rule---today's vaunted millennials. 

One student said in an interview that while it was his parents who had marched a generation ago vs. the Marcos dictatorship, he knew exactly why he was in the streets amidst the rains tonight: to protest the burial of someone who doesn’t deserve a hero’s burial in the national pantheon of heroes.

Listening to this drenched young man justify his presence at tonight’s “Black Friday Rally” gave us, his elders, enormous hope that our country would be in good hands for the future---that the young generation knows its values and convictions and is ready to defend them.


Today's “Black Friday" rally” sprouted in other cities around the archipelago, notably, in Davao City itself, home-ground of President Duterte, as well as in Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Legaspi, Baguio, Tarlac, Dagupan, Zamboanga City and many other places. It would be a big mistake to think that tonight’s protest rally would go pffffttt---on the contrary, I think this is just the beginning of protest rallies around the country---with the youth of today as its core, just like the protesters in the late '70s and '80s.

It is to the credit of the Duterte administration that it directed the police to exercise maximum tolerance and they did---congratulations!  It would be a dreadful mistake, however, to think that this first “Black Friday" rally” will just be ningas cogon.  The way the students came prepared with their props, their mind-set and their umbrellas and raincoats, it promises to be just the beginning.


In the history of every democratic movement all over the world and since the beginning, the student population has comprised a vital and critical component. So was it in the first anti-Marcos movement a generation ago, backed up by left-wing elements, and so will it be in the current protests, likewise backed up by the same elements. From what I know of history, the students would probably stand their ground in protest, and it leads me to wonder what would give.

Will it be the Supreme Court that would come to realize the foolhardiness of its disastrous decision not only to allow the burial of Mr. Marcos in the LNMB, but also to disrespect the 15-day period for its ruling to attain final fruition?   Will it be the Duterte administration which would beat a mea culpa over its supposed innocence of the burial, the excuse being that the President was in Lima, Peru at that time?  Will Mr. Duterte plead for reason and dialogue with the students? Such dialogue I would encourage heartily before the drift widens between him and the millennials. He lost the support of a substantial chunk of the youth and the Left over this issue.


What aggravated the issue of the Marcos burial as far as the Filipino people are concerned was the stealthy manner whereby it was carried out---to use the shop-worn phrase, like a thief in the night. As I argued a blog earlier, had the Supreme Court insisted on the full 15-day period for reconsideration, knowing full well that such motions were forthcoming in the last five days, and had it dribbled the issue until perhaps early next year, it might have been less controversial to sell Marcos at LNMB. 

To be sure, protests would still erupt even if the burial was carried out in full knowledge of the populace, and perhaps some radical students would still have laid their bodies in the streets in protest, but I maintain that such physical outbursts would have been easier to pacify than today's anger.

Tonight's “Black Friday" rally” is a protest against the issue of Marcos’ burial at LNMB and the odious manner whereby it was carried out---with SHOCK AND STEALTH. IT WAS A TOTAL MISREADING OF THE PEOPLE'S SENTIMENT. 


Talking of another issue, ODIOUS is the word to describe the marathon hearing conducted by the House of Representatives the other day on the issue of the alleged involvement of former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima in the illegal drug trade, with her former driver and erstwhile lover, Ronnie Dayan, as star witness. Interestingly, another angle on the same drug trade issue was being conducted in the Senate that same afternoon, with Kerwin Espinosa, reputed to be the biggest drug dealer in the Visayas, as star witness, but the Senate hearing didn’t reap the tons of angry criticisms that the House did.

The reason was that the Senate hearing concentrated on the extent of the drug-trafficking itself as a crime, with De Lima’s alleged involvement as drug money recipient as mere factor---whereas the House hearing became absorbed in the lurid details of the relationship between De Lima and Dayan, with the solons concentrating more on the salacious details of their personal life---rather than probe the extent of their criminal involvement, thereby establishing a case for the State.


The House hearing was simply distasteful and malicious, with tri-media as well as social media netizens heaping tons of well-deserved criticisms on the chamber. One netizen noted, “No wonder the House of Representatives is called the ‘Lower House’---it is absolutely degraded.” One critic pointed out that the physical arrangement of the House hearing contributed to encouraging abuse in sexual overtones, in that visitors sat close to the representatives, giving a cozy atmosphere prone to gossipy details---whereas the Senate forum, co-chaired by Senators Dick Gordon and Panfilo Lacson, was arranged and conducted in a more impersonal way. 

Thus, queries to Ronnie Dayan, such as "How did you call each other?" “Did you sleep together in one bed?” and “How intense was your relationship?” Dayan's reply: "Intensity V at first, then later just Intensity 1," which drew naughty reactions from the House. Most of the Honorables should have just gone to a sex video shop to get their high, instead of wasting tax-payers' money in a fraud of a hearing. 

I am not particularly fond of the former Justice Secretary and now Senator, but I felt that the efforts of the “Honorables” to slut-shame her were totally repugnant. As a fellow woman I was terribly offended by the direct assault on her reputation--- whatever is left of it.