What happens after the coming presidential elections when current Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III steps down and a new elected president takes his place? There does not seem to be an answer to that question. Why? Because Filipinos are at an utter loss with regard to who to root and vote for in the coming 2016 elections.
There are only a handful of candidates all of whom are mere compromises. There seems to be no lowest common denominator that Filipinos could gravitate to like they did in the 2009-2010 campaign when then candidate Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III emerged as the least-qualified but most winnable candidate on account of his then still-shining pedigree.
Unfortunately for Filipinos there is no more of that Laban rhetoric to make the choice for next president easy as the only enemy Filipinos ought to be fighting — Mindanao’s ruling terrorists — are being coddled by the son of the man who used to shout Fight! with fists raised. The Yellow glow of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan is now a dull grey thanks to the botched presidency of Cory’s son, and old slogans around “freedom regained” are all but obsolete.
What will the rallying cry of the next most viable presidential candidate be?
Corruption, that other traditional bogeyman traditional politicians like putting up as the evil to eliminate during their term has proven to be a non-issue. President BS Aquino during his term tested the theory packaged as his primary election promise, that eliminating corruption would necessarily eliminate poverty. Alas, the Philippines is still a poor country even as media outlets both domestic and foreign parrot the script that BS Aquino had, supposedly unlike his predecessors, been “largely successful” at reducing corruption.
So far, much of the national “debate” has been focused on comparing prospective candidates and discussing various permutations and combinations of President-VP “tandems” that an equal variety of election winning machines (what Filipinos laughably call “political parties”) will be fielding. Needless to say that too — the national “debate” — has also remained tragically unchanged, still the “droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant” banter amongst the chattering classes observed back in 2000 by an admired Filipino economist, based in New York.
Some people believe that there is something to be deeply afraid of with regard to the possibility that embattled President BS Aquino would not complete his term and either resign or be ousted before 2016. I don’t think so. What is really scary is the emerging dearth of vision for the Philippines after Aquino steps down and the dim Yellow after-glow of his presidency finally goes dark permanently.
Beyond being the world’s favourite source of English speaking indentured labourers and, for now, a nifty place to establish bases for clerical work that could be employed for one tenth of what they would have cost if manned by First World workers, there is not much that could be said of what the Philippines could be in the next six years starting 2016.
Certainly as an aspiring military presence, in a region of rapidly-emerging minor military powers, Filipinos have long struggled with their lack of a credible martial tradition. Filipinos under the President BS Aquino’s watch have elevated the tradition of slaughtering one another in the name of minerals, pork, and God, to new heights even while, on its northwestern frontiers, China beavers away developing disputed territory long neglected by government after government in Manila.
And now even the Philippines’ goal of being a bastion of “human rights” is being tested as a foreign lawyer takes up the cause of a former president — a victim of President BS Aquino’s vindictive administration.
The Philippines today is an utter embarrassment, one that no number of champion boxers or international songbirds will ever redeem. Perhaps this is the challenge that the next president of the Philippines needs to step up to — to shore up what little is left of Filipinos’ “pride” in their country and, rather than work towards personal and clan agendas as BS Aquino had singularly focused on during his seriously misguided shot at glory, lead the country to true achievement on the back of a modern collective effort that all Filipinos could be truly proud of.
[Photo courtesy Wikipedia.]
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