10/05/2012
Cabin fever

The first I've heard of cabin fever was an episode of MythBusters - you know, the Alaska special, where Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman billet themselves in a cottage and basically bore themselves to death.

It's not really a sickness. Ever-so-trustworthy Wikipedia calls it a "claustrophobic reaction" than happens when you're isolated in a small place for an extended period of time. You get bored, you get restless, and you start to hate everyone around you. Then again, it's as if you could do anything about it. You can't just get out, more so if there's something good waiting for you at the very end, or if you're getting something good the longer you stay. You get some fresh air and you stop being delusional, but you might have nothing to come back to.

Yeah, I know, I'm forcing this metaphor a little bit. But you get me, right? The longer you stay in one place, the more skewed your perspective gets. When your reality revolves around the same things, over and over again, you tend to not consider anything else. That's what I'm thinking of right now as I ponder all that's happening on my television screen lately.

This week is, of course, the week when shit hit the fan. The Cybercrime Prevention Act - not Law, as it turns out - and yes, I'm writing about this again - became effective this Wednesday, after two weeks of protests and a fair amount of international attention. In those two weeks the politicians who let the law pass kept quiet, which led to this exchange between me and my father, where we both agreed that they were very much aware of what they're doing when they passed a law that looks good outside but is effectively draconian between the lines.

And then the protests hit critical mass. The number of petitions swelled, and so did the number of people blacking out their avatars. The Supreme Court failed to act on any of the seven petitions because they were five justices short. The law became effective, the people continued shouting, and suddenly, the politicians - the very people who let the law pass, or slip, whatever - were reacting. Three senators - Chiz Escudero, Antonio Trillanes and Pia Cayetano - they all voted for the law, I think - pretty much realized their oversight and quickly drafted amendments, either to decriminalize the provisions on libel or drop it altogether, or to take down the controversial "take down provision", or to take away the executive's powers to block websites based only on prima facie evidence.

For one, I appreciate the acknowledgement that they did drop the ball. Of course, our leaders should do a much better job than this. I don't remember which senator attributed the oversight to the impeachment trial against Renato Corona that was going on at the time of the amendment stage - I think it was Edgardo Angara, the main proponent of the law in the Senate. Understandable, but still unacceptable, because you cannot drop the ball when you're dealing with a whole country's welfare. You don't just append something, regardless of how good your intentions are, without checking it over and over and over again.

But then again, that's what you get when you have politicians who spend more of their waking hours in their own little worlds - in session halls and executive meetings and political sorties and photo-ops. You really lose touch with the very people who voted you to power, more so if you're a reelectionist, or if you're part of a political family, or if you're a celebrity in your past life, used to people adoring you, using that adoration to get to power, and believing that adoration never fades.

(Yeah, I did type those words inspired by a tweet from BBC correspondent Kate McGeown. "I'm trying to speak to a senior Philippines politician not from a political family, or former actor, celebrity or army. Any suggestions?" Stumped me. Someone suggested Juan Flavier. I did not think of that.)

I'm pretty sure the law hasn't made mentioning Tito Sotto illegal. He's my first example. My mother put it best when she describes the multi-term senator's reactions to criticism against him - from the plagiarism issues that bothered his anti-RH Bill stance, to his belittling of bloggers, to his involvement in the insertion of the online libel provision on Republic Act 10175 - as akin to his character in Iskul Bukol. "Namimilosopo," she'd tell me over and over. He's been tagged as the person who suggested the inclusion of online libel in the law - Senate records say so - and he's either denied it or admitted it; I don't really know which is which. But the most ridiculous part came on Wednesday, when he declared that he'd mount a proposal to scrap our libel laws altogether. Makes sense, since our libel laws are stuck in the past, and then it doesn't: "Alisin na natin ang libel para puwede ko na rin silang murahin ... Kung malaya sa Internet, puwede silang mambastos, mambaboy ... gawin na din natin sa media. Kailangan pare-parehas."

Real immature, I thought. Or maybe I shouldn't think that? That's a tantrum, I revised. No, it could still be offensive to already distrustful people.

"When experiencing cabin fever, a person may tend to sleep, have distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail." Again, ever-so-trustworthy Wikipedia.

But what Noynoy Aquino said today is far more ridiculous. I honestly thought he signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act without reading it thoroughly. When his spokespeople said that he did go through the law, I didn't believe them - it's their job to make their boss good, after all. But then, today, he spoke of the law, specifically his intention to keep the provisions on online libel. He's open to lessening the penalties - currently up to twelve years in jail - but he won't scrap the whole thing. "Kung meron kang sinulat ... na libelous, meron kang pananagutan. Kung ikaw naman ay broadcaster at sinabi mo sa radyo o sa TV, may pananagutan ka rin. Kung parehong libelous ang sinabi mo, dumaan ka sa Internet, ay, siguro libelous pa rin ho ‘yon." Of course, he glossed over all those controversial provisions.

I find myself agreeing with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. "We now have a president who has openly declared war on his own people," they say.

Is it safe to say that Noynoy got tired of having to defend himself from his more critical citizens, those of us who aren't satisfied with his performance (despite what the numbers say) and use whatever means we have - our keyboards, our smartphones, our Twitter accounts - to call him out on it? The people around him, they all agree to him, they all act as if he's still the savior, the very thing he made himself out to be, never mind that when he ran for office, taking advantage of the goodwill Filipinos have for his just-deceased mother, he surrounded himself with the same old people we've become distrustful of. Capable, perhaps, but can they really bring change? Lots of lip service, some visible change (credit where it's due), but still a lot of frustrations, none of which are reflected whenever they come out and say they're doing so well. So someone says, "hey, wait, no, you've not done anything good," he'd rather squash it, because he's surrounded now by people who love him - why shouldn't everybody else?

We have leaders who aren't exactly acting the way leaders should. Sure, have a stand, but be considerate. You can't always blame us for your mistakes. You can't be this delusional and say you're this good - granted, we haven't had any major corruption scandal rocking our television screens yet, but it doesn't exactly mean there's nothing, right? These politicians, they've been here too long, so long, to the point that they don't exactly know what they're here for.

Today marked the end of the filing of certificates of candidacy for next year's midterm elections - something that, as I told Carlo, probably forced the yes senators to listen to the protests and change their stands on the Cybercrime Prevention Act - and the issue, like before, revolved around the fact that we're seeing the same old names running. Former senators, current senators, sons and daughters of senators, of other officials, of failed senatoriables, even. There's talk, again, of stopping political dynasties. Talk of electoral reform. Newly-appointed COMELEC commissioner Grace Padaca said as much during her interviews this morning. We need electoral reform to give good citizens a fair shot at leading the country, she said. It's discouraging throwing your hat into the ring, only to have the big wigs ruin you at every opportunity. We need fresh eyes to go over our government. You know, like when you're editing a film. You need someone else to look at your final work, because you've gotten so familiar with your footage that you've probably missed something.

But it isn't really happening, is it? We have the same old people ruining our lives for us. We have people getting more and more ridiculous in their actions. Say, why does Noynoy need to declare that he paid for Grace Padaca's bail yesterday? Sure, it's private funds, but in declaring it (and sending a message) he's doing everyone more harm than good. He did not need to do it. But no, he doesn't probably see it that way. He's too familiar with this now. And it's not very amusing to watch, unlike that MythBusters episode with Kari Byron laughing at her colleagues going crazy.

Then again, maybe it's us who have cabin fever. We see somebody new. We don't think they can do well. We end up voting for the same old people. They've been there, they haven't done anything wrong, so why not give them another shot? Repeat cycle.

And your responses...

Nung napanood ko yung sinabi ni Noynoy, isa lang naisip ko: INSECURE. If he were secure enough of himself and he KNOWS he's doing the right thing, he won't let what other people say affect him. Bakit pa, diba? Wala ka namang ginagawang mali. He could learn a lot from his sister, Kris.

Kung buhay pa kaya si Cory, anong sinabi niya jan sa magaling niyang anak?

Blogger Aleigna Lin10/05/2012     

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