An Open (fictional) Letter From Angelo Reyes
(This is obviously a fictional open letter, as the title suggests.)
As I sit in my living room, with absolutely nothing to do but contemplate my situation and the things that have been going on lately, I see my family and feel saddened by the burden I’ve unfortunately put them through. I hear my name mentioned often in the news. It’s like I’m looking at some other person everyone’s talking about. They’ve completely contorted the whole situation in the media. This is definitely not the Angie I know. I want to tell you now, although I’m sure most everyone will not believe me, that I’m different from the rest of these politicos.
Let me explain here. I’ve served 39 years in the military, started out as a team leader and was tasked to address the threats from the communist insurgents and Muslim secessionists in Mindanao. I’ve always tried to do my job as best as I could because I have a deep respect for this country, and also because of my love for the armed forces which protects and defends it. I am a military man, and even after my retirement, I’ve always been and will always be one. I’ve proven my worth as an efficient area commander and was thus elevated to Commanding General of the Army. Shortly thereafter, I was further propelled to Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces.
I always was an ambitious man. And determination coupled with hard work has gotten me this far up the ladder. I’ve never had the luxury of being somehow attached to some dynasty through some surname. And I’ve always felt disdain for those who use show-business as a springboard for a career in politics. I can surely say, unlike some ignoble fools in the government, that I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. And I developed a reputation, a really outstanding reputation. No one could touch me. I’ve also struggled to keep my personal life private. I prize privacy as much as I despise failure. In spite of all my accomplishments –which should be illustrious by anyone’s standards — Teresita, my wife, is the best thing that’s happened to me. Although some of my friends banteringly maintain that I’m married to the Armed Forces, everyone knows that Tere always comes first, and my family is what I am most proud of.
The world of politics was the next obvious route to take. I’ve never wanted to get into any conflict with anyone in this business, so I’ve always tried to be as passive and non-confrontational as I can be when dealing with the pretentious blowhards who run the shop. Unfortunately, I realized late in the game that confrontation is inescapable; You can only go so far without needing the help of someone; Alliances must be formed to get you any further. And if you don’t take on their enemies, then it’s those friends who will bring you down. Corruption was and probably always will be a part of Philippine politics. As evil as it is, it is a part of the system. These dirty politicians have been left alone for so long with their own devices, that corruption has become part of the government’s DNA. I feel bad that there is no conceivable way to do anything about it. And, yes, I’ve been sucked into this dark chasm of wickedness which I, ruefully will admit, chose to keep mum about. I am only human, and I mistakenly thought that my actions would seem benign when cast alongside the large-scale malfeasance happening ubiquitously in every single government institution.
I also cannot stand grandstanding hypocrites, and the sphere of politics is full of them. These abject politicians live in a different reality altogether and have over-inflated perceptions of themselves. This overbearing attitude of our politicians should be a complete enigma to anyone. Hard working Filipinos already realize that these people don’t know what they’re doing. The polls all show that everyone is fed up with the corruption in the government, and depressingly, at the same time, everyone feels completely powerless to do anything about it. Yet, lo and behold, we’ve had to listen to the same pretentious, hypocritical and abjectly demagogic rhetoric inside the senate halls in these recent weeks. As if these barnstormers had any shred of moral standards. It’s like listening to a couple of salesmen who have the unbelievable audacity to sell the same snake-oil to the same people, over and over again. Incredulous! I would rather listen to a thousand nails grinding against a chalk-board. What is 50 Million pesos to anyone who’s been able to worm his way into a senate seat? Even if these people were able to live out a hundred life-times with only the salary they are afforded as senators, they still would never be able to amass even just a tiny fraction of the wealth they are now all wading into. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out the causal linkages between their flourishing bank accounts, their mountains of cash sitting discreetly in banks, their safety deposit boxes around the world and the rising poverty and destitution in this country. I feel saturated by the hypocrisy just thinking about it. And I feel profound indignation (whether warranted or not, I do not care) with the idea that I’m about to be lynched by a mob that’s thirsting for some sense of justice so longly withheld. I am being made the scapegoat, and the object of venting.
I’m not saying I am innocent. I’m saying that nobody in this system is. And if guilt can be quantified, I don’t think reasonable thinking people can dispute the fact that I am orders-of-magnitude less guilty than my detractors at the senate.
I can only hope that the next round of castigation at the senate will be less acerbic than the previous ones. Hopefully the days after that will be more peaceful to my family once my plans reach fruition.