Jojo A. Robles

Doing Banksy proud

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Someone spray-painted pro-Marcos graffiti on the base of the Edsa People Power monument and, predictably, only the denizens of the Yellow palace were enraged. Given that the candidate now leading the surveys in the vice presidential race is Ferdinand Marcos Jr., I think many of those who saw the “Marcos Pa Rin!” sign at the preeminent Yellow shrine must have said, if only to themselves, “Well, why the hell not?”

The spokesman of President Benigno Aquino, the one with the perpetually sleepy, just-got-out-of-bed look, intoned: “The vandals who wrote a revisionist slogan at the People Power Monument are inviting the justified anger of the Filipino people to defy the dictator’s armed forces and assert their determination to restore democracy in our beloved country.”

If the spray painters had really sent an invitation, nobody even called to send regrets. As of last night (March 15), there were no nuns or even any washed-up singers forming protective human chains around the monument or the various statues of spouses Ninoy and Cory, ready to lay down their lives in defense of the images of those supposed icons of democracy.

The government agency created to guard the sacred flame of Yellowness, including the Edsa monument, was even more combative in its indignation than Sleepy. It was “regrettable that the monument, which is deeply valued by millions of Filipinos, has to be desecrated to convey the vandal’s own political thoughts,” the Edsa People Power Commission said.

“When we selfishly impose our own political beliefs on other Filipinos, we go down a slippery slope, we regress to the ways of authoritarianism and dictatorial rule,” it added. And here I was believing that graffiti artists like Banksy are actually engaged in freely expressing their thoughts, instead of being the agents and the advance scouts of oppressive dictators.

Candidate Marcos himself didn’t want to make a big fuss about the incident, either, which was the right thing to do. If Bongbong had loudly denied any involvement in the matter, he would only be accused by the Yellows of overreacting - probably because he was guilty of instigating the desecration.

Marcos said all candidates have their own detractors and supporters. And, sensibly, he left it at that.

Some people have proposed that the defacing of the monument was actually perpetrated by the Yellows themselves, so that they could find something to blame Marcos and his supporters with. I disagree with this simply because asking those who still idolize the Aquino family to do such a thing - even if the objective was to blame Marcos - would be akin to asking a devout Catholic to smash an image of the Blessed Virgin; it’s just too sacrilegious to contemplate for them.

I even doubt if the spray-painter is really much of a Marcos fan, since he would know that Bongbong would be blamed for his act of vandalism. But I will admit that the sign-maker has a terrific sense of humor and is right now enjoying the furor he has caused.

Of course, if it was Marcos who had overreacted and the Yellows who had played cool, it would be a different story altogether. As it is, Sleepy and the EPPC that are now playing the role of the rabid partisans (dare I say “loyalists”?) and it is Bongbong who comes off as sane and logical.

As for historical revisionism, I think the Yellows are as guilty as anyone in that regard - and that most Filipinos already know this to be true. The fact that we may just see the return of the Marcoses through Bongbong after 30 years of intense pro-Aquino propaganda will prove that conclusively.

Nobody, least of all the Marcoses, protested when the giant concrete bust of Ferdinand was dynamited to dust some years back. But let someone with a can of paint write a pro-Marcos slogan on a Yellow monument and the Aquino crowd goes crazy.

Double standards, anyone?

* * *

The withdrawal of Australian telco giant Telstra from the negotiations with local conglomerate San Miguel to create a third cellular-mobile Internet provider is ominous. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Telstra, which had planned on investing $1 billion in the proposed joint venture, basically decided that the Philippine business environment was just too unwelcoming for big investors who have reputations to protect.

What Telstra is saying is that, regardless of what the government in power says, corruption is just too endemic and the playing field too uneven to allow a real challenge to established players. And the Australian company is certainly not going to risk a huge amount of shareholders’ money in a place where virtual monopolists are openly lobbying Malacañang Palace to keep out competition.

No wonder we can’t attract reputable investors who will provide jobs, give consumers more and cheaper choices and improve the overall economy. The cronies never left; they just turned Yellow.

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