Anyone who has spent any amount of time around Senator Richard Gordon knows four basic facts about him:
1. That he was the youngest delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
2. That his father was assassinated, and that he eventually nailed the guy who did it.
3. That he is an Upsilonian, (just like his fraternity brothers Senators Joker Arroyo and Francis Pangilinan, who have the parliamentary courtesy not to acknowledge the blatant name-dropping in mentioning it in speeches everyday.)
4. He turned Subic into the economic powerhouse that it is today.
Never in his rambling privilege speeches has he ever mentioned that he served in the military, or has ever been in the line of fire, except, I guess, politically.
Which does not stop him from from single-handedly rescuing Red Cross volunteer Mary Jean Lacaba, or acting like some debonair billionaire vigilante (at least, on the phone.)
Despite a stern warning from Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro–and on the chain of command, that’s just one step down from the Commander-in-Chief– not to try to solve this ICRC kidnapping situation single-handedly, Sen. Richard Gordon insists on his “personal and institutional responsibility to do everything (he) can to secure the safe return of the hostages.”
After which, presumably, he slid down to the Bat Cave, put on his suit and went out to put the hurting on the Abu Sayyaf Group holding his posse captive. Because, otherwise, he’s really just another politician milking the situation for media mileage and publicity.
We’ve been down this road before: He hit the military for engaging the ASG when it tried to slip out of a cordon manned by soldiers and volunteers. He even tried to get the commanding general on the ground relieved for being a “cowboy” or whatever. (When Maj.Gen Juancho Sabban, said commanding general, was “allowed to go on leave,” he denied having anything to do with it.)
Which led us to the repositioning of troops to give the Abu Sayyaf “breathing space,” which later gave them the balls to demand a total troop pullout in Jolo in exchange for Lacaba not losing her head. Which, when the deadline for the pullout was up, and our soldiers were still there, led to this:
You don’t get to play it both ways, senator. You can’t buck the chain of command and criticize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and then cry when you fail. You can’t stubbornly insist on negotiating with the terrorists, and then say that whatever blood spills is on the government’s hands.
You cannot tell our troops that it is better to talk than to shoot after they’ve lost their buddies in vicious firefights, only to give back whatever ground they’ve gained because you hold the lives of your Red Cross volunteers above theirs. Whatever praise you give the troops will come across as nothing more than an aftertought, much like their lives.
You cannot be a senator for the Republic and speak and act on behalf of a multinational organization that is not your constituency, especially not at the expense of our soldiers, who are.
You cannot, come to that, come down on Joc-Joc Bolante like the fist of an angry god, and then, months later, bend over backwards for terrorists who have cost the country much more than the P728 million pesos that Bolante did.
Or, for that matter, criticize the President (if mildly,) and then say that you’d welcome her endorsement for your presidential bid because “politics is addition.” That you said the same thing about former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada and his endorsement is even more troubling because when you play both sides, you’re only playing for yourself.
Even Batman walked the thin line of hero and villain. Nobody can have it both ways, not even Harvey Dent, Two Face.