Once upon a time in Gasconland


When one wishes upon a star, one should not make the mistake of wishing to visit Gasconland.

For starters, Gasconland is an unusual political amusement park in the northern part of Quezon City, known for its comical press conferences, fantastic exhibits and fictional stories.

It is managed by a bearded, bald man who badly longs for the recent past, who adores the color yellow, and who, because of his fear of facing the public himself, speaks to the park’s clientele only through a spokesman specializing in political doubletalk and ambiguity.

The real world does not exist in Gasconland. Everything in the park and about the park is either imagined or surreal. It is a place where fiction prevails over fact.

Gasconland used to operate under its old name, the Commission on Human Rights. The public prefers to call it Gasconland because the name is easier to associate with the park’s exaggerated figures and sweeping public statements.

Visitors to Gasconland are taken for a ride, and there are many rides in Gasconland.

Thanks to the publicity generated by the park’s management, Gasconland’s biggest attraction is a litany of false accusations that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings (EJK) in its war against the drug trade in the Philippines.

Because Gasconland is a relatively old amusement park, many of the park’s visitors who are not very fond of President Duterte believe the park’s accusations. Nobody asks for proof of the EJK because they probably found it awkward to publicly doubt the park’s management.

No proof is offered, either.

One will be surprised to learn the names of political celebrities mesmerized by the false accusations peddled in Gasconland. That list includes a non-practicing lawyer named Leni Robredo, who claims to be the Vice President of the Philippines and who lives in a sprawling mansion at public expense; Maria Lourdes Sereno, the erstwhile Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who was removed from office by her fellow justices because she tricked her way to her judicial appointment; and Antonio Trillanes IV, an ex-soldier cashiered for violating his soldier’s oath not to destabilize the government.

Others in the list are Leila de Lima, a detained senator facing criminal raps for acts attributed to her when she was Secretary of Justice; Luis Tagle, a highly politicized friar who badly wants to be Pope someday, but who has no idea of what the constitutionally mandated separation of Church and State actually means; and Patricia Fox, a meddlesome Australian nun deported from the Philippines for violating the conditions of her stay in the country.

When the management of Gasconland realized the park’s ability to make anybody believe anything, it was decided that the park’s biggest attraction, namely, its false accusations against President Duterte, be made a road show, first outside of Quezon City, and then to the world.

First, the Gasconland road show was brought to a local online news forum whose operator dislikes President Duterte. Later, the news forum became a local and international outlet for the road show itself. It was later discovered that the online news forum was receiving investments from foreigners, in violation of the Constitution.

After that, the road show was brought to the Senate. To the unpleasant surprise of Gasconland’s management, not everyone in the Senate fell for the road show hook, line and sinker. Senator Richard Gordon demanded evidence of the alleged EJK Gasconland was attributing to the Duterte administration. The Gasconland management did not have any evidence.

Despite that deception, Gasconland’s management brought the road show to United Nations theaters in New York City and in Iceland. The foreign audiences fell for the road show and demanded an investigation on the alleged EJK.

When Senator Gordon learned of what happened abroad, he called the attention of this newspaper to the failure of Gasconland’s management to produce any evidence to the Senate to prove the extent of the alleged EJK being attributed to President Duterte.

That revelation from Gordon should be enough for the public to demand a change in the management of Gasconland, and for the park itself to revert to its original avowed purpose.

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