Monday, March 3, 2008



Theres The Rub
Truth serum

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:08:00 03/03/2008

- They tried everything to stop the rally, or at least
stop it from becoming the flood of humanity it became.

They tried scaring people off the streets. A couple of
nights before, last Wednesday, checkpoints had already
sprung up all over Metro Manila. I know because I ran
across a couple of them at about midnight. The cops
manning them were fairly courteous, but that did not
make up for the not very pleasant sight of them in the
dead of night flashing flashlights inside cars, or
indeed in the faces of drivers, while toting heavy
firearms. The fellow who materialized before my window
told me I should automatically switch off my lights
and lower my windows whenever I approached a
checkpoint. I told him--after showing him my press card
of course; I am not that reckless--that as far as I
knew people did that only when entering military
camps. I asked him if we were already under martial
law and Metro Manila had been turned into a military
camp. He shrugged my comments off and waved me on.

They stopped people outside Metro Manila from joining
the march. The day before, the military and police
were already in full force halting marchers dead in
their tracks north and south of the capital. Eddie
Villanueva would tell me at the rally last Friday
their ranks would have swelled like God's wrath if
their out-of-town flock had managed to get through.
Last I looked at the Constitution, the Bill of Rights
said the citizens had a right to peaceably assemble.
Preventing people from doing so because they might not
be peaceable is prior censorship. I don't know why the
lawyers aren't busy right now badgering the Supreme
Court to issue a ruling stopping that atrocity.

They threw a security ring around Makati. Earlier that
morning Avelino Razon and ilk kept warning that the
PNP and AFP were prepared to deal with troublemakers
at the rally--to a public that knew the only
troublemakers to be found there were those who
proposed to deal with them. At the North station where
I took the MRT to Makati, I saw Razon's life-size
cutout that proclaimed him to be "Mamang Pulis," an
effort (quite possibly a future campaign line as well)
to turn the Armalite-toting goon-in-uniform into your
friendly neighborhood pavement-pounder. It just made
me wonder again what happened to him. In lieu of
"Mamang Pulis," all I could think of was the caption,
"Pulis, pulis, t--ing matulis." Or in this case,
"Pulis, pulis, iping matulis."

They tried everything, and still they got nothing.

For lo and behold, as that magical line in "Field of
Dreams" put it, "If you build it, they will come." And
come they did, from far and wide--or at least as far as
the faraway groups could squeeze through the police
mesh. But there was no mistaking the wide: bishops,
priests, nuns, Catholic lay people, civic groups,
lawyers, businessmen, teachers, students, housewives,
househusbands, ordinary folk, uzis. Even the sellers
of water, fishballs, dirty ice cream, toron,
cigarettes, menthol candies, and samalamig came, and
they weren't all just shouting their wares, some were
shouting their disgust at a world that had brought
them to this pass.

If you had been there last Friday, you would have felt
anger and joy, outrage and euphoria, busting through
your heart all over again. If you had been there last
Friday, you would have felt the exhilaration of
release and freedom all over again. The marchers
themselves would estimate their ranks at around 80,000
at their peak. The police would say 18,000. But that
was only after the police had prevented ABS-CBN from
flying a helicopter above Ayala to take an aerial view
of the crowd and let the public judge for itself. Last
I looked too, the Bill of Rights said the press had
the right to be free and the people to know. I don't
know why the media groups aren't now violently
protesting the atrocity.

The conservative--or bought--sector of the CBCP insists
that what we need today is not to act but to discern,
not to kick GMA out to the streets but to kick truth
into our hearts. A sentiment echoed by the Iglesia ni
Cristo and El Shaddai, all of whom manage to make a
strenuous case for converting to Buddhism or plain
atheism. You cannot discern the truth right before
your eyes, you do not need to pray, you need to see an
optometrist. Although as the local saying goes, "The
hardest person to wake up is the one pretending to be
asleep." The hardest person to enable to see is the
one pretending to be blind.

There and then last Friday, you saw and heard and
smelled and tasted and felt Truth such as you had
never done before. There before you was the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth. There in front,
beside, and behind you was the insistent, dogged and
inescapable bursting of the truth: The truth of a gang
of criminals desperately trying to hide the truth, and
truth of a risen people joyfully proclaiming the
truth. The truth of hell and heaven, the truth of
death and resurrection, the truth of Good Friday and
Easter Sunday.

There and then before you was the truth of a
non-president ordering her officials to not appear in
public to tell the truth, the truth of a police state
kidnapping a witness to prevent him from telling the
world the truth, the truth of goons in uniform
preventing people from gathering anywhere to bear
witness to the truth. There and then before you was
the truth of the leaders of true faiths come to
trumpet forth the truth, the truth of an outraged
people come to build a scaffold for those who would
not tell the truth, the truth of an awakened nation
come to build a scaffolding for the truth.

For the first time in a long time, I believed again in
the power of those words: The truth shall set you