A horror story

published 02 October 2016
I WOULD like to testify in Congress. It was me in the sex video. 
These are the words that have made their way into the status updates of some Facebook users in the past few days. The words convey indignation and outrage over the fact that some lawmakers are even considering playing the sex video, allegedly of Senator Leila de Lima and her paramour, during a hearing at the House of Representatives. 
The hearing is supposed to look into the senator’s links to the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison. De Lima, as justice secretary during the previous administration, had direct supervision over the national penitentiary. Some high-profile convicts in the maximum security compound of the prison have tagged De Lima as their protector so they could continue their trade—in exchange for huge amounts of money that funded her senatorial run and allowed her to lead a life of luxury. 
President Rodrigo Duterte swears he is in possession of the damning sex video establishing the relationship between De Lima and the paramour who also supposedly acted as her bagman. He also swears that the senator will go to jail for screwing the nation.
House leader Pantaleon Alvarez seems to agree there is nothing wrong with showing the video during the probe. 
But why? Even if it were De Lima in it, it would not establish the drug connection. It will show two consenting adults having sex, but there will be no conversations about money from drugs.
The physical attributes of the characters are also immaterial. 
Consider these inspiring words from two lawmakers, styling themselves as beacons of morality and good taste:
“You did not yet see the video? You are lucky; you did not see a horror story,” the pro-life, Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza reportedly said. “I have seen it, and the performers were ugly.” 
Rep. Danilo Suarez, who was all praises for the male partner, is said to have chimed in: “If it were pleasing to the eye, it would be all right. Otherwise, let’s not show it.”
Ah, these macho men. De Lima is branded a slut for carrying on with a married man. How many stories do we hear, on the other hand, about male officials having more than one partner? It’s a badge of honor, of course, a stamp of virility. The double standards are revolting.
And on Wednesday, when De Lima called a press conference and aired her sentiments, she is said to have “lost it.” She was hysterical, no longer able to hide her anger and frustration at being singled out in this crazy, crazy war against drugs. And just because she does not look like a movie star, her outburst mostly elicited ridicule, not sympathy. 
But when the chief executive lashes out at anybody, threatens to slaughter millions and generally says what he wants even without regard for the sensibilities of others, he is applauded: This is the no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, macho man we all need in our lives. Aren’t we so lucky to have him? 
In this fight against corruption and illegal drugs, the gender, sexual preference and physical attributes of the accused should not even be an issue. 
By all means, prosecute De Lima and get to the heart of her supposed involvement in the drug trade. Do this, not through the testimonies of witnesses who have been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude, but through an irrefutable money trail that points to her and her alone.
By all means, if this were true, shame De Lima for her hypocrisy in championing the so-called Daang Matuwid. Say this is her comeuppance for fiercely going after former President Gloria Arroyo and the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona even if she had to come up with tales and defy the highest court of the land.
By all means, bring her to court. But ensure a swift and fair trial that relies on evidence and not the whims of politics and personal vendetta.
And if she were indeed guilty, then send her to jail and keep her there. 
But do not ridicule her because she is with this or that particular partner, or because she is neither young nor attractive, or because she chose to show what she was truly feeling when we are so tolerant of, and so quick to make excuses for, men who are/do the same. 
The country’s drug problem is serious, and the manner in which we need to address it has become divisive. Think about all the other equally critical and far-reaching concerns we are facing. And then ask: To what depths have we descended? 
That we should spend an inordinate amount of time and effort wallowing in sleaze amid all these is the horror story we must all survive.