|MANILA, Philippines — “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” This line from Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion” is uttered by the fictional English Lord Marmion after his deceitful schemes unravel. One reviewer has called Marmion “a thoroughly rotten man: a seducer, forger, liar, greedy for lands and not squeamish about how he acquires them.” (Does this remind you of some of our high government officials?)Marmion seduces Constance de Baverly and keeps her with him disguised as his page until he tires of her for the land-rich Clare de Clare. To break Clare’s engagement to Sir Ralph de Wilton, Marmion has Constance forge documents which convince King Henry VIII that Wilton is a traitor. Wilton flees in ignominy. Clare seeks sanctuary from Marmion’s advances with the abbess at Whitby in England.
Marmion turns Constance over to Benedictines who convict her of certain crimes and wall her up to starve to death. But before her death, she reveals the forgeries and other misdeeds of Marmion. Wilton returns and his and Marmion’s paths cross. But the abbess gives Wilton the exonerating documents and Marmion’s schemes unravel. Later, the Scottish and English forces meet in battle at Flodden Field, and Marmion is slain. The English win and the Scots are annihilated, losing everything but their honor.
The famous line of “Marmion” comes to mind when we recall the deceit, the dishonesty, the lying of high officials of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration just so it can remain in power. Like the English in “Marmion,” they may win the battle for survival, but will they still retain their honor?
President Arroyo promised at the Rizal Day commemoration in 2002 that she would not run in the presidential election of 2004. But she must have planned that early to run in that election. That was her first major lie. Several months later, she declared her candidacy for the presidency.
Ms Arroyo used all means, fair and foul, to win election. The opposition said she used government money, such as the P728-million fertilizer fund, to win votes. She used cards of the government’s Philippine Health Corp. and money of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in a similar manner.
But the most egregious instance of alleged cheating and dishonesty was the “Hello, Garci” incident where she is said to have asked a Commission on Elections official to pad her poll total by about a million votes. Administration spokespersons used all sorts of deception to deflect the charge.
Now here is the explosive ZTE national broadband network (NBN) deal in which a $130-million commission was supposed to go to certain “big people.” The proceedings of the Senate blue ribbon committee in its inquiry into the anomalous deal are a matter of public knowledge. The administration at first tried to keep key officials from testifying. Then it made them give evasive answers and often lie outright.
Just when it seemed that the inquiry had reached a dead end, the kidnapping of Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. took place. Again, key officials of the administration twisted facts and lied and tried to portray that they were protecting a key witness. The spokespersons and officials were soon caught in a web of contradictions.
Now comes President Arroyo saying she immediately cancelled the ZTE-NBN transaction when she learned about alleged irregularities tainting the deal. The fact is that early on, then-secretary of socioeconomic planning Romulo Neri told her about the bribe offer but she told him to refuse the bribe and continue with the deal. Was that the way a President, who is supposed to enforce the laws, should act in the face of an attempted commission of a crime?
The Arroyo administration has had a long history of dishonesty, deceit and lying. Its leaders are caught in a tangled web of deception. They have lost all moral authority to govern the nation.