To be a Vader or not to be a Vader, that is the question…
I was inspired by a Cebu Daily News (via Inquirer.net links) article by Jobers Bersales titled “Joker Arroyo as Darth Vader? “ With the growing trend of comparing our current national situation with the Star Wars milieu, (thanks to the column of Manuel Quezon III, “Live from the Bastusang Pambansa”) the cast of charters grew; the unseated Speaker Jose de Venecia as Yoda, Congressman Nograles as Jar-jar, and the infamous Atty. Antonio Bautista as Bautista the Hutt. To this list I too personally added the Emperor Palpakparin Arroyo to the growing number of characters. As for the Malacanang muscle Senior Superintendent Paul Mascariñas, I was considering to put him in as the porcine looking Gamorrean bodyguard usually hired by Hutts, I’m still thinking about it. I was a stumped for quite some time on deciding where to put Senator Joker Arroyo. Initially I though he would fit being a mercenary like Bobba Fett, however I cannot for certain categorize him as one.
When the article of Bersales came out, it made me think, Joker as a Darth Vader? Why not? Joker started out his career as a good guy fighting near insurmountable odds especially during the Marcos Martial Law years and now he seem to defend a corrupt administration, striking similarities indeed. An excerpt from the column of Bersales:
“Joker began his career as the Don Quixote of his time, defending Ninoy Aquino before military courts that had long convicted him before the trials began in 1973. With incurable idealism, his impassioned defense of imprisoned political enemies of the Marcoses inspired a generation of lawyers like him to take the lonely and very dangerous road of fighting the dictatorship in the courts of the land.
As executive secretary to President Corazon Aquino, he was fearless in defending the fledgling government amidst coup after coup foisted by the disgruntled elements of the military. His stints at the Senate during the Ramos presidency and at the House during the Estrada presidency were equally sterling in his attacks against corruption, even on mere allegations of corruption by the powers that be. Now, I am disheartened by the sleeping stance of my dragon. On this the twilight of his years, Joker must prove to the generations of young men and women who voted for him that he is no joke, and he means business. Simply put, that he is no Darth Vader.”
Why then did Joker Arroyo in his senior years and coveting the esteemed position of Senator seem to turn a blind eye on the blatant corruption, cover-ups and abuses of the Gloria administration? Could it be he’s on the payroll? Personally I find that hard to believe since he would have easily done that during the Marcos and even the Estrada administration if he really wanted to. Power? Unlikely, he already possess one of the highest position of the land. Connections and contacts? Hmm maybe I could be getting warmer on this. Perhaps it could be that through political connections and contacts that he or his family has built good relations with the First Family or at least with the top executives of the administration. Perhaps it may be because finally the administration of Gloria cared for him more than the others.
In my personal view, it could be related to the built up anger against the last administration, namely the Estrada administration. Let us remember that during the reign of Estrada, the former president too had his own group of boys who force through questionable and even corrupt policies. Estrada’s moral conduct is not exactly admirable and in fact many consider crass or detestable. I would say during this time Joker Arroyo was mad at the shenanigans of President Estrada and was pretty much helpless to stop it. The fall of Estrada however turned the tables and Joker Arroyo had probably vowed that this group of people and their allies would never again be part of governance.
Then years passed and the opposition (which the allies of Estrada are part) finally was criticizing the Gloria administration. It sounded like a whimper at first, even the EDSA III protest they launched was shunned by all except the low to lower middle class. Then came more reports of anomalies and stronger evidence; the husband of Gloria is implicated on many of the high profile corruption charges. The total about-face of Gloria Arroyo came at the time of the ‘Hello Garci’ election fraud scandal and she, to stifle mounting evidences and charges, chose the dark side and start implementing repressive Executive Orders which bred more abuses in government. Corruption grew and was protected. The police and the armed forces high command were used like her personal Praetorian Guard or phalanx of Storm Troopers. The disenchantment towards the Gloria administration grew and the light that shone inside the soul of Gloria Arroyo died.
Could it be that the loyalty that Joker Arroyo built around Gloria could not be extinguished? Was there a debt of gratitude or an “utang na loob” that has to be paid? Could it be that Joker, hoping against hope that Gloria is still the best option against other alternative leaders? When his superior slowly but surely turned to the dark-side, he too now had decided to follow. And when one follows a superior who now trod on the dark path, thus he too trod the dark path as well.
Is this the probable scenario that happened to explain Joker Arroyo’s slow motion fall from grace? I cannot say for certain as I do not personally know him, but whatever the real reason, I hope he would see the situation differently and reflect that perhaps this administration has lost its moral mooring. Loyalty, while an admirable trait has it limits. Loyalty to a personality rather than to a principle is a dangerous thing.
Joker Arroyo may indeed be a Darth Vader. From a follower of light like Anakin Skywalker, he fell to the dark side and became a Vader. Looking at Joker’s past performance perhaps there is still a little light in him left, just as Luke Skywalker felt a remaining goodness in the heart of his father Darth Vader. I could just hope like in the last Star Wars episode, the situation would also be the same for Joker; Darth Vader throwing away the Dark Emperor even at the cost of his life, returning to the path of light. If some say that Joker be a Darth Vader, I hope it follows that he too would eventually throw away the darkness and follow the light just as Anakin Skywalker did in the end; finally attaining peace, saving his soul and the Republic.