Much has been said about the sad way Filipino politicians — particularly the top presidentiables of the moment: Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, and Jejomar Binay — clambered all over one another to suck up to the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). The INC staged a rally last week that fouled up Metro Manila’s main road artery causing massive traffic jams that paralysed vast swaths of the Philippines’ largest metropolis and premiere centre of commerce causing untold loss of productivity possibly running in the billions of pesos in one fell swoop.
Despite that immense damage to people’s livelihoods and sanity wrought by this stunt, keeping one of the country’s biggest block voters on their side remained the primary goal of these politicians. But the law itself remains quite clear about the position these supposed “leaders” should have taken — that there was an alleged crime and that this alleged crime must be investigated.
It was all that simple, really.
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What made it complicated? There’s a straightforward answer to that as well: The need to be popular and the squatter mentality this attitude of Filipino leaders induces.
It’s a recurring issue with the Philippines’ brand of “democratic” governance that plagues its society across the board. The law, for example, is quite clear on property rights and how trespassers should be dealt with. Yet squatters infest hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of prime Metro Manila real estate. They foul up not just Manila’s streets but Manila’s sewerage and storm drain systems and, more importantly, put off both domestic and foreign entities from investing in the Philippines.
The law is also quite clear on what constitutes a traffic offense. Yet, for drivers of the Philippines’ immense fleet of decrepit public utility vehicles (PUVs), offending traffic rules are an entire mode of operations. Like the literal squatters described earlier, PUVs also hopelessly foul up not just Metro Manila’s streets but also its air.
The squatter mentality that underpins just about every way Filipinos go about their business is what makes the Philippines such a foul up. Its streets are foul, its water is foul, and its air is foul — because Filipinos foul it all up. It’s an entire sad sad way of life.
The recent INC debacle and the way Filipino politicians responded to it highlights why the Philippines has come to such a fouled up state — because like squatters and homicidal PUV drivers, the INC is a vast vote farm. Squatters, PUV drivers and operators and the INC flock constitute the electoral farmland where the tens of millions of the sorts of non-thinking voters politicians salivate over are bred, fed, and watered.
And that is why The Squatter Mentality stands out as Philippine society’s primary character trait. People with Squatter brains feed off politicians who, in turn, cultivate and propagate that mentality in them. It’s a vicious cycle from which the only escape is a wholesale society-wide embrace of an ethic of thinking.
Will the Philippines ever be known as a society that exhibits a modern ability to think?
It’s a journey that begs a first step. Roxas, Poe, and Binay completely missed an opportunity to take one of those first steps — to take the INC to task for the vast disruption they caused last weekend and to categorically shut down their veiled idiotic appeal that they be given a get-out-of-jail pass on the charges of kidnapping their leadership is accused of. Those who come to their defense have done so on the back of really lame positions — kesyo it was the INC’s freedom to express, freedom to assemble, and freedom to worship that was at stake here. Puh-leeze. All of those lofty principles ultimately owe their legitimacy as national ideologies to, you guessed it, The Law.
As such, it’s simple, really…
Rule of law trumps everything else.
Whenever some bozo Filipino politician makes an assertion or an emo appeal on the latest fad issue, look up The Law as the first port of call when evaluating if their ululations make sense. Turning that into a habit is a big step in the direction of transforming Philippine society from what it is today — a superstitious medieval nation — into a modern thinking society that has earned the right to take its place amongst modern 21st Century societies.
If Filipinos continue to embrace their Squatter culture, guess what: the Philippines will continue to be a Squatter Country run by Squatter Leaders.
[Thumbnail photo courtesy Philippine Star.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.