The PDI editorial says:
Or take the case of Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor. He took a call from the family of Richard Brodett, who was facing an investigation for drug dealing. He took it because he knew the parents of Brodett. He took it upon himself to inquire as to the status of the case, when “inquiries” by officials have become notorious as instances of influence peddling (“Will I still win by one million?” comes to mind). Blancaflor, by all accounts, is widely respected. He may have acted on the principle that justice delayed is justice denied. But these are times when deviating from official procedures by resorting to the gray areas, in which officialdom often tries to find ways to humanize the inexorable harshness of the law, has become increasingly impermissible.
The public has an increasing intolerance for such cases of official consideration because it has come to expect a more impersonal, and thus, equitable, approach to the justice process. We all know our institutions are understaffed and overworked. What we expect is the democracy of the queue and of not jumping the line merely on some official’s (well-intentioned or not) say-so.
First off, anyone – PDI editors included for sure – who has ever had any reason to deal with government above a certain level has called on a well-placed acquaintance to – at the very least – ‘follow up’ on his interests. And anyone who knows anything about this sort of shit should know that members of the media rank among the worst followers up. They throw their weight around for this friend or that relative and badger government officials to exert whatever influence they can to secure a positive outcome. And it doesn’t have to be blatant either. It can be as subtle as saying “I don’t care what the outcome is, as long as everything is done fairly and transparently and the truth comes out.” The problem with that, of course, is that people who say shit like that have often decided what the “truth” ought to be.
And because they have microphones bigger than their dicks, they come on strong – their words laced with the implicit threat of negative publicity in case they are rebuffed. So it smacks of irony that PDI should be taking this tone now: since they seem to acknowledge that even ‘inquiries’ are impermissible, why do they keep doing it? Why keep on egging or even badgering government officials to do them ‘favors’ when those favors are the exact same things they then turn around and condemn?
And to add to the irony, the editorial attempts to paint the public as some morally outraged group that demands the democracy of the queue. HAH! What a load of bullcrap.
Your average Filipino cares nothing for the democracy of the queue if a means exists to shorten the wait. It’s when we see other people getting a jump on us that we complain. And no one is immune. It’s like that thing they say about money being the root of all evil: the only people who say that are those who don’t have money.
Oh sure, there are those who make valiant attempts to stay in line but given the opportunity – and the probability of doing it with impunity – how many of those won’t take advantage? And how many of people of stature will stay away from situations where even their mere presence will influence the fate of the queue?
Once I was talking to this very high-profile private lawyer – a public intellectual he was – who bitched endlessly about traffic. He ends his rant by saying: ‘when I get caught, I roll down my window and give the cop a chance to recognize me!’ HAH! I’ve wished often enough that my face could be just as effective a passport out of inconvenience. But since it isn’t, I rant and rave – however privately – about the injustice of it all.
A modern, democratic society substitutes official discretion and similar gray areas, for a fussy, often slow, and tedious devotion to doing everything by the book. Blancaflor is simply the latest example of the adjustments officials — and not just the public — have to endure, if we are to eliminate the more flexible but highly corruptible present for a more orderly and fair future.
Eliminate the highly flexible but more corruptible present? Might the PDI be talking about the endless calls for an extra-constitutional end to the Arroyo presidency? Might it be referring to how the media and the senate relentlessly pillory those that have the temerity to disagree with them? Or could it be referring to glorification of putschists like Trillanes who toss out the law to have tea-time at Oakwood, and then again at the Pen?
The only difference between those examples and what’s going on with Blancaflor and those drugpushers is that with Blancaflor, it looks like the extra-legal route is going to benefit the perceived bad guys. But hell, if those drugpushers had been savvy enough to gain the sympathy of the public – maybe they should’ve told their friends to blog about what nice boys they actually are – no one would be raising so much as a squeak now. HAH! So much for the wisdom of the mob.
In a perverse way, the editorial might actually be read as a lamentation on the fate of Blancaflor, but the PDI’s predisposition to pander to the righteous outrage of a public that feels it’s been one upped – and it’s track record of throwing its weight behind moves to undermine the rule of law in favor of swifter and seemingly poetic justice – tarnishes what might’ve been a refreshingly honest piece.
Because it is true that even honest and upstanding government officials do try to accomodate requests as best they can without crossing over the line into impropriety; and it is true that our culture places extreme pressures on each of us to bend over backwards for people who invoke friendship, blood, and mercy; and because it is true that a strict democracy of the queue would be a wonderful thing.
But because the PDI couldn’t resist taking the pulpit with it’s holier-than-thou shtick, it missed the opportunity to rise above the fray – demonstrating only that, like the rest of us, that mighty newspaper is just as prone to castigating people for doing as we do, instead of as we say.