It was in 1999 when Keanu Reeves entertained us with his slow-motion aerial ballet, dodging bullets in the movie The Matrix. Some two decades later, the word “matrix” has invaded the lexicon of local politics, specifically in the war against drugs.
The opening salvo was fired by the President when he introduced his “drug matrix”. It showed former Justice Secretary, now Senator De Lima, as one of seven personalities allegedly involved in drug operations inside the New Bilibid Prison.
The President’s Drug Matrix was a basic PowerPoint presentation of boxes and arrows linking the then Justice Secretary to other drug personalities. The matrix gave the appearance that the Justice Secretary was the head honcho of a drug syndicate.
The Senator immediately counter attacked with a series of comments against the President’s Drug Matrix.
First, the Senator called the matrix a piece of “scrap paper” that “properly belongs to the garbage can". At this point, it was not clear whether the Senator was criticizing the substance of the drug allegation or the aesthetics of the PowerPoint presentation.
But her follow-up comments definitely pointed to the later. She called the matrix the "worst matrix of all time," and which “even a 12-year old child can draw”. And she appeared in a press conference with a copy of the matrix with her own corrections. She pointed out that none of the arrows pointed to her, and that they were all pointing outward.
I’m not really sure about the significance of this last criticism. In a flow chart, an inward pointing arrow means a receipt of something while an outward pointing arrow means a delivery. Either way, you are part of the process.
The President never really responded to the Senator’s technical criticism of his drug matrix. Instead, he made that off tangent remark about her love life.
Later, the Senator also showed a “human rights matrix” created by her supporters. The matrix displayed quotations from various human rights advocates, plus statistics on drug-related killings.
Visually, the Senator’s Human Rights Matrix was superior to the President’s Drug Matrix. It displayed a greater variety of PowerPoint shapes other than your basic boxes and arrows. And in contrast to the President’s matrix’s background of plain white, the Senator employed a variety of colors -- pastel blue, earth tones and lilac.
The drug war is inexorably permeating various strata of government and society. Like a pandemic, PowerPoint presentations are being assembled for deployment throughout the archipelago.
Recently, following their commander-in-chief’s example, the Eastern Police District created its own matrix showing the organization of a drug syndicate in Pasig City. As of this writing, plans are afoot to produce similar matrices for the cities of Marikina and San Juan.
The Matrix War (aka The PowerPoint War) is in its embryonic stage. We expect that it will escalate very rapidly in the near future with the use of deadlier graphics, and even (God forbid!), the application of sound and animation, resulting to mounting casualties on both sides of the opposing forces.