Back to the old vacuous debate

28 May 2007



Another Fiesta Election has come and gone, and with the absence of the theatrics of a campaign and the gossip on the posturings of the cast of morons, the chattering classes of Philippine Society are back to the same vacuous debate that characterises in-between-Fiesta-Election periods. This is the gestation period for the next-generation political parties of the next Fiesta Election. It is also the period where the Next Big "Issue" (NB"I") on what the next Fiesta Election will be all about is crystallised. This NB"I" will be the nucleus around which the next "United" Opposition will be organised.

What are the topics of these vacuous debates?

Firstly, most are based on the shortsighted vision of what this last Fiesta Election was all about -- President Arroyo's impeachment and Charter Change -- specifically if the vote resulted in enough critical mass to dislodge the current administration from office.

Second, and this is more of a no-brainer, there is talk of rampant "cheating". It is ironic that so much indignation is expressed in a society where dishonesty is a way of life -- an environment where even the most basic forms of collective trust cannot blossom. In a society where the youth's child-like queries are not considered to be worthy of an intelligent or even truthful response (as this fellow observed), it becomes quite amusing to see adult Filipinos expecting The Truth from their leaders.

Indeed, while there is a lot of "indignation" directed against the Comelec and the politician instigators of this alleged "cheating", what is often not mentioned is that the people who execute these instances of alleged "cheating" are ordinary Filipinos -- school teachers made to sit around filling out bogus ballot forms, children being conscripted into the illegal litter-campaign efforts of politicians -- in fact, even the goons that cause much of the violence are ordinary street corner thugs! It is an irony lost in a society characterised by a culture of crime:

All with nonchalant impunity from the bottom of the pecking order to the top: humble jeepney drivers thumb their noses at traffic ordinances, families build entire houses on public property and other lands they are not entitled to, retailers sell pirated intellectual property at high-end market facilities, entrepeneurs build high walls around their mansions to conceal their illicit warehousing activities, megastars evade taxation with a smile, and we elect our leaders to office fully expecting them to "recover" their campaign investment within their terms of office.

When will Filipinos understand that people have to take personal accountability for their actions, and quit blaming their actions on higher forces that "make them do things"?

As such, it seems life cannot go on in the islands until another excuse for yet another political fiesta can be found. In fact it has already started. For one, a quaintly amusing signature campaign calling for the "abolition of Malacanang and Congress" was launched. There is also "Kontra-daya" (counter-cheating), an "anti-fraud group" that is one of a number of "watchdog" "groups" that kibitz in various ballot counting and canvassing activities along with that original c.1980's watchdog the National Movement for Free Elections "NaMFrEl". As a commentor on Ellen Tordesillas's blog said: "Filipinos should demand for the removal of Abaloslos now and abolition of the Comelec!"

That's right. It's the usual ho-hum call to anarchy that easy-way-out Filipinos are famous for. We make a fearless forecast that we shall see the usual "people's courts" and familiar extra-procedural antics over the next several years. Bypassing tax-funded institutions that govern due process has become fasionable since that seminal precedent -- Fiesta Revolution 1986.

Perhaps we Filipinos find a personal need to remain focused on our presidents, our politicians, and their politics because of our chronic inability to take responsibility not only for our bad fortunes but also for our good fortunes. To us a president is merely an extension of our deeply-ingrained addiction for scapegoats and providers in our lives. Philippine presidents are burdened with wearing both hats simultaneously. A Philippine President both (a) is to blame for poverty (scapegoat hat), and (b) is expected to "create" employment for the jobless (provider hat).

It is not too different from our regard for the role of God in our lives. When we run into trouble, it is "God's will". When we meet up with good fortune, it is "by God's graces".

[Comment on this article here.]

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