Many Filipinos are too caught up with what the Philippines should “never” be or “never” suffer again. It’s become a popular political fashion statement. Trouble is, too few Filipinos could hardly imagine much more think about what their country could be.
And this is why the Philippines does not move forward — because Filipinos are stuck in Reverse. Perhaps while backing their car out of the ditch that was the evvviillll ‘Martial Law Years’, Filipinos developed a crick in their collective necks that rendered their faces permanently turned towards their rear-ends. Now that it is time to shift to Drive the Filipino’s ability to look forward has all but atrophied.
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What the Filipino needs is for someone to wrench their heads back into the forward position, kick the gear into Drive and floor the accelerator. This time, Filipinos should apply a bit of brain to avoid that ditch. Thing is there are also other ditches ahead that are different in nature. So Filipinos also need to learn how to avoid a bigger variety of ditches and not just the old 1970s bogeyman that imprison the pea brains of the “#NeverAgain” gang.
Suffice to say, another auhtoritarian regime taking over the Philippines is unlikely. One would like to think Filipinos are no longer the docile platform-shoed cows that they were back in the 1970s. No sirrreee. Today we have the awesome might of “social media activism” where any hipster and her dog could become “social media experts” overnight. Add to that the advent of camera phones that have turned every little lapse in manners and breeding into a potentially-riotous indignation fad.
Of course one should not forget the pathologically-paranoid national charter that is the 1987 Constitution enacted by the late former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino. This Constitution, whilst tragically guaranteeing the continued oligarchic monopoly over the Philippine economy by the Old Guard, also ensures that every president is confined to a single six-year term. Nothing short of a constitutional amendment could break this regime. Everything needs to be approved by Congress. Even the possibility of an unholy alliance between — horrors — the President and Vice President is impossible now that the two offices are elected separately.
As a matter of fact, one question consistently side-stepped by the #NeverAgain mob is a simple one:
How exactly could a politician with the evil intent of re-establishing a dictatorship go about doing it?
Perhaps if the #NeverAgain bozos care to take the trouble of enlightening our lot about the specific weaknesses in the current governance system that could be exploited by tomorrow’s President Juan de la Adolfo Hitlero we could have a more informed outrage fad than the ignorant one we see today. Or perhaps what these bozos are avoiding is the even scarier let’s-not-go-there topic: The intellectual faculties of the average Filipino Voter. There you go. Really, there really is no problem with the current system of government in so far as the task of mitigating the risk of another Pinoy-style “dictatorship”.
The problem really lies in the Filipino people.
Consider the current presidency of Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III. Under his watch, billions of taxpayers’ pesos were squirreled away into dubious “projects” courtesy of the accounting sleights-of-hand engineered by his top financial henchman Budget Secretary Butch Abad. On top of that, BS Aquino was also in the process of making a deal with a terrorist group (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and a corrupt ASEAN government (that of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak) that would have seen a huge chunk of Mindanao carved out and served on a silver platter to these crooks.
President BS Aquino, in just six years, proved eminently capable of keeping Filipinos starstruck with one hand flashing his popular “L” gesture while the other was busy dipping into the money jar and signing deals with shady characters sporting fake names. Indeed, these are not just petty crimes these are heinous ones — the earlier, plunder, is a non-bailable offense and the latter, treason, attracts an even worse punishment.
The point is, no matter how watertight a system of governance is, it is really up to people to keep their governments on their toes, hold them accountable to their campaign promises, and ensure its officials are kept reminded that they are in office to serve.
People who cry “Never Again!” ad nauseum but lack a deep understanding of what vigilance, accountability, and public service really mean are just as suspect as the objects of their tantrums. Filipinos need to wisen up, be less star-struck, and apply an intelligent mind to their politics. That way, we can move past our infantile fears of imaginary bogeymen and start building a country we could be proud of.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.