Funny how elements of the Philippine Opposition gleefully spread images of Leftist protesters infesting Manila’s streets as if to demonstrate that there is a “fight” for “freedom” currently raging against the oppressive “fascist” government of an “evil” strongman. There is even a dramatic image of one of these protesters in the act of delivering a “flying kick” against a riot police officer. It is funny because what escapes these “activists” is how all this imagery actually demonstrates that the Philippines is not the “fascist” state that critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte make it out to be. It is, in fact, a country where open and public dissent thrives unencumbered by state forces.
Indeed, throughout the occassion of this annual summit, the Opposition has not done much intelligent dissenting to begin with and, instead, did nothing but nitpick on every aspect of the events, taking cheap pedestrian shots at little idiosyncracies of the participants as well as getting sidetracked by a sideshow at a popular fast food outlet and a shrill verbal brawl outside a restroom during a gala night. Social media “thought leaders” affiliated with the Opposition were also having a field day issuing their usual slapstick commentary over Twitter and Facebook with nothing much in the way of substance to contribute other than to latch on to the verbatim minutiae of every word and sound byte they catch wind of.
In truth, the short of it is:
Even if the Philippine government actually wanted to crack down on dissent, it really does not have much to go after.
There was a lot of lazy commentary and lazy journalism flying around that served no other purpose than to top up what amounts to no more than a seething pile of inbred points-of-view and quibbly ideas that neither builds any semblance of a scalable conceptual framework of dissent nor contributes to the development of clarity and coherence in the discourse. There was “dissent” but most of it is essentially inconsequential.
The words of key Opposition legislator Teddy Baguilat posted on Twitter sum up the nature of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Opposition spectators on exhibit this week:
Billions of pesos spent [hosting] ASEAN, did we get anything in return? Puro handshakes, obligated smiles and safe rhetoric. Like we hosted a giant party and photo ops.
So typical of the small-mindedness of infantile people who, not getting any instant gratification, go on a rampage over how an otherwise important initiative “failed”. Did Baguilat actually expect a million bucks to fall on the laps of each Filipino family right after the close of this year’s ASEAN Summit?
It seems, the Philippine Opposition approached the ASEAN Summit with eyes blinkered towards what they consider to be humanity’s most important be-all-end-all topic, human rights. Seeing that the Big H.R. topic was merely glossed over by world leaders who would rather get along and get down to business during their brief “giant party”, these chattering hordes were left with no other recourse but to throw their usual girly tantrums. “Human rights”, after all is, in essence, really just a part of each country’s domestic affairs to sort out internally. Whether or not US President Donald Trump or pretty boy Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raises the topic with Duterte ultimately does not matter — because it can only be raised politely if it is even raised at all.
Unfortunately, these Opposition partisans harbour hopes that the Philippine government could be arm-twisted by powerful Western democracies into toeing the “human rights” line. The irony in that hope seems to fly way above their pointed heads considering they are the same bozos who are likely, in another context, to get their panties twisted over old spectres of “Western imperialism”. Oh wait, isn’t that what Renato Reyes’s panties were all twisted about during this event?
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