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By Ronald Roy

Sayang, Pres. B.S. Aquino lll missed a golden opportunity — like he often does! He had a great chance as the country’s president to articulate his sovereign bosses’ inalienable birthright to freedom; but he goofed, ironically on such a day as Independence Day! As he delivered his speech extolling his lineage in Naga City, a feisty 19-year-old psychology student from Ateneo de Naga suddenly screamed: “Patalsikin ang Pork Barrel King! Walang pagbabago sa Pilipinas!”

Emmanuel Pio Mijares was immediately grabbed by presidential security agents, gagged with something like a sackcloth reeking of turpentine, then whisked away like a common criminal. Although charged with violation of Art. 153 of the Revised Penal Code (Tumults and other Public Disturbances), he now stands as the latest larger-than-life crusader for freedom of speech, silenced by a repressive reactionary who chose to do wrong instead of good.

If Noynoy Aquino knew that the arrest of the “heckler” was wrong but did nothing to let him go, then we have a president whose despotic nature renders him morally unfit to stay a minute longer in office. On the other hand, if he did not know that it was wrong, or even thought that it was right, he should then resign because this sort of incompetence pertains to people who cannot even understand Pepe and Pilar. Indeed, there must be a severe character flaw that disables P-Noy from learning simple things that other presidents are known to have quickly used to good advantage.

A recent incident comes to mind in the case of US Pres. Barak Obama whose public speech was rudely interrupted by a heckler. Obama calmly told the disrupter, “Sir, please allow me first to finish my speech, then we can discuss your problem later.” Obama was dignified, courteous and persuasive. In contrast, we vividly remember how Pres. Aquino publicly abused, by mouth and body language, then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. P-Noy was un-presidential, scandalous, bastos and €#£?&!

This time around, it didn’t take long before P-Noy came under flak. Being critically excoriated comes with the office, and world leaders know this. But it’s different when censure comes from students, and world leaders know this too. But — does P-Noy know this? Is he not aware that students are the unstoppable dynamo of socio-political change? And that they take their tomorrow very seriously?! When P-Noy was a student, didn’t he burn with reformist fervor? His father must have. Ferdinand E. Marcos did.

I once overheard Marcos regaling four Law school seniors with anecdotes of his campus activism. “I was once like these romantic student activists. It’s their love of country that drives them onward, unmindful of the valley of death”, he reminisced, his eyes flashing with paternal understanding. He then continued, “Tomorrow I shall speak to the five boys who were apprehended at the height of the recent protest rally. I hope to win them over.” FM was referring to a mammoth demonstration outside of Congress that was marked by Molotov-cocktail blasts that injured numerous innocent individuals and burned down some vehicles.

FM had a soft heart for youthful militants. Who can forget the intractable Gerry Barican, the fiery activist who was among those who led that violent demonstration outside Congress? Who would have thought that after a few days, Gerry would completely lose his appetite for violence and become a front-liner of the Kilusan Bagong Lipunan? Who would have thought that student leader Nilo Tayag would likewise succumb to the taming mastery of his nemesis? It was unthinkable that he would, but he did!

Dyed-in-the-wool activists are tough nuts to crack, and it surprised many that Tayag would be quickly transformed into what one might call a KBL disciple, a follower who would go around teaching “Marcosian” principles of building a “new society”. And he did, with a lot of passion and energy.

The youths were not the only ones whom Marcos could sway with his powers of persuasion. While conversing with him, or just listening to him, people of whatever age easily perceived his wisdom, sincerity and goodness. For, how else could he have convinced a would-be assassin not only to reform but also to follow him? I refer to the late Eduardo Figueras Jr., a prominent businessman who failed in his assassination try on Marcos because the latter, who was then playing in the Malacañang Golf Course, didn’t walk from the ninth green to the next tee, the very spot Figueras had chosen to hit the president with a long rifle.

Eddie, a close family friend, told me the entire story. He was arrested and confined, treated well, was asked to read materials about the New Society and the KBL, and became a disciple himself after a year. As he narrated his story, he muttered: “Ronnie, Marcos is a great leader!” Can we say this of the reactionary P-Noy?