She may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Miriam Defensor-Santiago (MDS) is definitely not like all the rest of them. And, suddenly, just like that, there is a viable standout above the three uninspiring, undifferentiated, pwede-na-yan presidential candidates. With Santiago in the race, there will be a political debate. The sad none-of-the-above choices now have a true statesman to challenge their idiotic campaign on the back of sacrifice platforms.
For Santiago, her vision for the Philippines is quite simple: When she becomes president, “this country will be much better than it was before.”
“Today, this country suffers from the malaise of plunder. Plunder is when you look at one person and that other person looks at you and you feel like eating each other up. It’s like cancer,” she added.
Santiago joins other presidential hopefuls Vice-President Jejomar Binay, former DILG chief Mar Roxas, Sen. Grace Poe, among others.
The only reason Filipinos feel a bit squeamish about an MDS presidency is because she is, to put it succinctly, quite blunt. In the Philippines’ stifling delicadeza culture, being in-your-face rubs people who are obsessed with saving face the wrong way. James Fallows in his seminal 1987 The Atlantic article A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines? could not have said it better; “The Filipino ethic of delicadeza, their equivalent of saving face, encourages people to raise unpleasant topics indirectly, or, better still, not to raise them at all.”
MDS proved in many instances that she will not balk at telling anyone the way it is. And in a country where time is desperately running out, there is a bigger chance that MDS’s style won’t be a time-waster. As Ilda pointed out back in 2012 when Santiago stood out as the sole annoying voice of reason at the height of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona…
With most of our ASEAN neighbors moving ahead in full steam, we don’t have time for misguided “delicadeza”. It is high time we get rid of this notion of saving face. We do more damage to our society when we turn a blind eye to our public servants’ shenanigans. Some Filipinos think that supporting a public servant they voted for means not criticizing him. Like what I have said before, there is a misguided notion among Filipinos that their public servants will eventually do what they are being paid to do. This is wrong and this is part of the reasons things never go according to plan in the Philippines.
Indeed, the stark reality in the way the Philippines’ most appalling criminal acts perpetrated by the very people Filipinos have placed their utmost trust on routinely go unpunished seems to trace its roots to this cultural malaise. It is quite likely that Filipino politicians and their extended network of oligarchs have been engaged in a vast mutual back-scratching arrangement for the most part of the Philippines’ history as a “democratic” nation. Outside of this grand collusion to put one over the farce that is the Philippines’ justice system is the rest of the Filipino people — left to lap up the bullshit delivered over pretentious speeches and Big-Media-greased public relations stunts in blissful ignorance.
Hopefully Miriam Defensor-Santiago lives up to her reputation as that rare politician who is allergic to the banal bullshittery that is the Philippine national “debate” and rises to the occasion as one who begs to differ for a change.
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
[Photo courtesy Asia Gaming Brief.]
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