Snicker snicker


There’s always that one kid in the corner; the one who’s snickering, saying that anything well-intentioned is doomed to failure, and anyone with altruistic aims is a fool.  Nothing will ever satisfy him, and he’ll notice your shortcomings a million times over before ever acknowledging your strengths. Zaldy Dandan’s editorials about the House minority bloc’s anti-corruption campaign are that kid, exactly. 

Yes, the election is coming up. Yes, the minority bloc members, like all politicians, seek re-election. And yes, the CNMI’s previous anti-corruption campaigns weren’t entirely successful in cleaning up government once and for all. 

For Zaldy, that’s enough to give up any hope, and to sit in the corner snickering—because look, he just found a newspaper article from 30 years ago where someone else tried to fight corruption, and look, he found some personal failing in one of the anti-corruption campaigners. 

That’s enough for him to sound the death knell over any hope of improving the CNMI government. Tell him you want to improve things, and he’ll tell you that Stalin’s genocide also started as an effort to improve things. Or that he remembers when so-and-so did this-and-this 20 years ago, and therefore we should all just give up and sit snickering in the corner, like he does.

It’s an easy position to take. Sitting in the corner snickering is a lot easier than taking action for positive change. 

How many years was Zaldy Dandan running a CNMI newspaper that failed to ask any difficult questions of any government officials? Why is it that an online outlet from Guam was able to uncover troves of public records of corruption in the CNMI? Kandit News was digging up stacks of papers that Zaldy never bothered to investigate over the course of years. 

Zaldy talked big about opposing Fitial and Babauta. Did his publication ever do any investigative reporting? Even driving up to Capital Hill is sometimes too much work for the Variety. They have spent years printing the same garbage, regurgitating Torres administration press releases while blatant corruption was leaving huge paper trails right under their noses.  

Who cares, right? It’s Zaldy’s lunch table. Sit and snicker and assure everyone that no one can do anything about anything.

An elementary school student could point out the basic grammar mistakes in every article that Zaldy is supposedly “editing.” But who cares? Can’t do anything. Snicker and sneer away.

Executive pay cut proposal? Zaldy points out that saving $300,000 on executive salaries won’t save the CNMI’s budget. Great attitude. You might also want to tell the emergency room at CHC that saving one dying person won’t save all the other dying people. Might as well just not try, right? 

Zaldy even throws in a jibe about the House leaders not communicating with the Senate. Because Zaldy has wiretapped the entire building and knows exactly that the House never ever communicates with the Senate. Or even if they do, it’s all futile. Snicker snicker.

Unlike the Fitial and Babauta administrations, Gov. Torres and his closest friends have been subject to multiple federal search warrants. If the allegations are true, Torres’ corruption is orders of magnitude bigger than anything Fitial or Babauta ever did.

But Zaldy’s editorials? They only tell us that reform is a fool’s errand and seeking out answers is political showboating. There’s not a word of encouragement or gratitude for leaders such as those in the minority who could have very well gone with the flow and personally benefited, but instead have chosen to work in the public interest.

Sure, it’s easier to snicker and dismiss. Zaldy probably has a snickering, dismissive comment for anyone who tries to improve our way of life.  Then he doesn’t look so bad for not doing anything but snickering.

Maybe back in the Philippines, massive public corruption is a fact of life, along with broken roads, stinking air, and dictatorial rule. Maybe back in the Philippines, there’s nothing to be done about it, and anyone who tries is a fool. Maybe in the Philippines, you’re better off just going with the flow. Is it any coincidence that the Variety’s sister company was contracted to provide “public relations” (propaganda) services to the casino? Back in the Philippines, going with the flow and cashing the checks may be the only possible way to survive.

But that’s not how it is here in the Marianas—or at least, that’s not how it should be. Whether Zaldy agrees or dismissively snickers, we have the rule of law here. Public officials do have to answer to citizens. And impassioned inquiries in the spirit of justice, such as those brought by the House minority bloc, can and do bring about real change.

So keep snickering, Zaldy. I won’t be reading your newspaper. And I won’t be voting for the hands that feed you.

Ray S. Cabrera
As Lito, Saipan

Ray S. Cabrera
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