Politicians and other vermins

Some Filipinos probably thought that the family members of Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. were speaking metaphorically when they complained about the infestation of “rats and roaches” in Revilla’s detention cell in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center. But they were being literal, and were not referring to other politicians, Revilla being the first pol to be detained there.

They were also said to have complained about “the heat,” to which Joseph Estrada, who was himself convicted of plunder, but was pardoned by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and who’s now mayor of Manila, proposed the obvious solution: he’ll have his son Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada’s cell, and probably Revilla’s too, air-conditioned.

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Lethal mix

JOURNALISTS AND POLITICIANS have always had an uneasy, troubled, and troubling relationship, whether in those countries that are, or which claim to be democracies, and even in dictatorships. But in this country where politics rules both during and between elections, the relationship has sometimes been lethal.

The “Fourth Estate” function of monitoring government often puts competent and honest journalists on a collision course with government officials whether appointed or elected, and with those politicians running for public office during election season. For the dishonest, paid partisanship leads to the same, at times deadly course with his or her patron’s rivals.

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POLITICIANS ARE at least partly the creations of the mass media, which in many cases present to the public only their versions of the person rather than the person himself.

These Frankenpols the media recklessly cobble together out of their often limited perceptions, expectations and biases, the way Victor Frankenstein of the Mary Shelley novel put an artificial being together out of the brains of one dead man and the torso of another. The most well-known example of the Philippine media’s creations is Joseph Estrada, whose movie role as advocate and avenger of the poor too many voters thought was the authentic expression of his real-life persona.

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