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Divided

February 28, 2008

TODAY I’m writing this blog while the nation is faced with another horrible round of issues of corruption, bribery and barefaced abuse of power. From inside the computer café in University belt where I usually spend late nights surfing the net and writing blogs, I can say that this land, which tasted three foreign invasions and two People Power revolts, is extensively divided.

Yes, the NBN-ZTE Deal is everywhere— like the polluted air we breathe, the mineral or tap water we drink eight or so times a day, and like those billboards we see in almost every street of the metropolis. This undying issue of abuse of power really is omnipresent, and it affects all social classes, the mile-long gap between the haves and the have-nots, all genders, and all ages, from kindergartens who just learned how to scribble their names on street walls to the highly educated people.

As a law student, I’ve known how some of my professors view the NBN issue. I’m not that interested in their opinion, but as law practitioners and experts of the law, I would like to know how and what they think of the divisive concern that confronts the country and the people today. I believe that their opinion never affect mine— I don’t relish the idea that I have to subjugate my mind to the thinking of the collective or the majority.

This is what is happening today. The people have waited for the Catholic Church to give its pastoral advice only to be frustrated in the end— when the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued what others called “toothless” message when it merely urged the Malacañang palace to scrap the Executive Order 464 that bans the President’s men from appearing on any inquiry so as not to incriminate the Chief Executive.

My professor in Succession, who is a good trial lawyer, never directly mentioned what he thought of the bribery-riddled deal entered into by the Philippines and China’s ZTE Corp. Although he often used the names of some high-ranking government officials, including that of the president, in some of his illustrations so we would better appreciate the tricky provisions of Wills and Succession.

Even if he’s silent on the issue, I could make a good guess that he’s not comfortable with the sitting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

My professor in Taxation, who works with the government and is disgusted by the irregularities and hocus focus at the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), expressed her irritation with the almost everyday televised hearing conducted by the Senate on the NBN deal since the appearance of the deal’s star witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada.

What the Senate is doing, she said, is no longer an investigation “in aid of legislation.” What will come out of this investigation? Why not just focus on making laws, which is the main reason why they (senators) are there? she asked.

I politely interrupted my professor by answering her query. Maybe there’s a need to look into the “dysfunctional procurement system” raised by Lozada, I said.

My professor agreed but she maintained that the senators should not waste “precious” time on the issue when there are other bills where it could focus its attention like the Cheaper Medicine Act.

Another professor of mine in Partnership also expressed her disappointment with the ongoing ZTE hearing. “That’s why there are so many Filipinos who wanted to leave the country because our politicians are too obsessed with politics,” she said.

On the hand, my soft-spoken mentor in Civil Procedure lamented the effect caused by the NBN deal. He even joked one time that government appointees do not only have to go through the CA (Commission on Appointments), they also need the blessing of the ZTE (people). He mentioned a case he currently handles which, he said, is on the brink if ambiguity because of the “questionable” actions/decisions of some presidential appointees in one instrumentality of the government. He always tells us that as students of the law, all we have to do is to learn from “the issues of today” and never to repeat those misdeeds when we become members of the bar. “That’s why you’re here, because your goal is to correct the system of today,” he said.

Students have their own opinion on the issue, too. Most of the time, before our professor arrives, there’s no moment where we wouldn’t be able to touch the topic of the day. Some are defending Gloria and her actions; some silently keep their indignation, while others choose to keep quiet.

As for me I always maintain my anti-Gloria stand, which usually leads me to a one-one-one debate with one of my outspoken classmates who happens to be the son of a high-ranking presidential appointee. I chose not to mention his name because of the sensitivity of the issue.

No, I don’t mind if he’s the son of a top government official. I respect his opinion and I make it sure the discussion-cum-debate is healthy and informative; well, I’m not that sure with the latter.

Whenever we met, I tried hard not to touch politics. Sometimes I succeeded in limiting the topic to non-NBN issues like the unfair monetary system of America, the upcoming presidential elections in the US, etc.

One day, after a heated informal discussion where we argued about the credibility of Lozada wherein he insisted on the ill motives of the NBN star witness and his inconsistent allegations, I told him this line: “We may argue about things of political nature today, but I’m sure sooner of later these issues will fade in time.”

Like what one student council officer said, we cannot compel other students to jump into the Anti-Gloria circle, especially those sons and daughters of government officials. “It’s like pushing them to bite the hands that feed them,” he said.

 

Our college council joined three other law schools in demanding President Arroyo’s resignation, but I never joined any of their rallies. I belong to the silent majority who continuously keep their disgust at the present political system to themselves.

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