Is anybody really on the side of the Filipino?

We talk a lot about Philippine society being a “democracy” — that our government, being run by people elected by popular vote represents the majority will and, presumably, are motivated by the interests of the broader Filipino public and seek to put the wellbeing of their constituents above their personal interests.

We are also told that the media is our hallowed channel of “truth” — that it is “free” to report the news factually and that its opinion-shapers are at liberty to take a personal position on any issue of public consequence and seek to enlighten their readers by articulating their insights on these matters.

We are told that our actions, decisions, and the framework with which we evaluate moral and ethical questions should be guided by our Constitution; and that our body of laws that lend their ascendancy to that charter is applied to all equally with no prejudice on the basis of class, skin colour, birth place, and appearance.

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Finally, we are told that a Congress of legislative officials serve as author and custodian of this body of laws and that each of its members represents (by virtue of their being elected by popular vote) the interests of the people in the formulation and maintenance of these laws.


Supposedly then, everything is on our side!

We are governed by people we chose, represented in the formulation of laws we are subject to by representatives we elect, and kept informed by an industry sworn to uphold the truth and motivated by a desire to enlighten.

Why then does it seem that a tiny minority of Philippine society is favoured by this system while the greater majority is marginalised as evident today in the inequalties around how economic power is distributed, political influence is wielded, and opportunity is granted?

This, it seems, is the most difficult question Filipinos face as we have invested heavily — no, dearly — in this adventure called “democracy”. The key derivative quesiton is even more confronting:

Has democracy failed the Filipino people?

At this point, perhaps it is important that we postulate the notion of what success means; thus the question,

What does it mean to be a successful democracy?

One way to answer the question is to take stock of the quality of our politicians. The timing is good to explore this question using this approach because Filipinos are currently down the once-every-six-year road towards electing the next person to occupy the most powerful office in the land. So just looking at the current crop of presidential hopefuls, are we able to tell ourselves that, yes, our investment in this system of governance called “democarcy” was worthwhile seeing that the quality of the people before us vying for our votes has improved?

Suffice to say, our politicians are but products of this democratic journey. One would think that Filipinos will have collectively learned lots of lessons over this 70-year journey (interrupted briefly, we are told, by the martial law years of former President Ferdinand Marcos). In principle, said learning will have contributed towards continuously refining the manner with which the system breeds our politicians, so much so that every generation of said politicians are better than the previous.

Is this the case, looking at what we have today?

On good days, democracy gives Filipinos an opportunity to choose amongst qualified options. On really bad days, Filipinos are imprisoned by a set of options composed of sad degenerates. There is no option to reject the lot. As such, on bad days, Filipinos are forced to choose the lesser evil. It means that no matter how less of an evil Filipinos select, they will be stuck with an evil nonetheless.

Perhaps Philippine politics is an embodiment of hell — a place where evil, though existing in various flavours and degrees (posing as “options” in a “democracy”), prevails.

I am not one of those weak-spirited, sappy Americans who want to be liked by all the people around them. I don’t care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do. The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. My affections, being concentrated over a few people, are not spread all over Hell in a vile attempt to placate sulky, worthless shits.” — William S. Burroughs

11 Replies to “Is anybody really on the side of the Filipino?”

  1. What does it mean to be a successful democracy?

    That only leads to asking the most basic question.

    What is democracy?

    The answer was already given by Aristotle thousand of years ago.

    What the Philippines need is not successful democracy. It needs a successful republic.

  2. there are various types of democracy – direct, representative, ‘guided’ etc and as Churchill so famously put it, talking about the one he was most familiar with, the worst kind of government the British had to put up with, but still better than anything else that was on offer then (fascism, nazism, communism etc).
    then there are govts that purport to be ‘democratic’ but are really oligarchic or kleptocratic – anything but truly representative of the wishes of the majority.

    What we seem to have here in the Philippines is a society based not on merit but on wealth and clan connections, so that ‘the pursuit of happiness’ would seem to apply to a small but powerful elite and an aspiring middle class who bring home the bacon from overseas.
    And it bears no resemblance to the French model of ‘liberte, fraternite, egalite’ because without equality of opportunity, there can be no true fraternity or liberty.
    In a society as grossly inegalitarian and unjust such as this one,when only a few share the benefits, everyone ultimately suffers (traffic gridlock, air and water pollution, lack of opportunity and a stagnant society).

  3. I am still puzzled why there are still people, although in much decreased numbers, who think PNoy has done well. Is it the 5.9% growth in economy? Is it the favorable credit rating? But, we are just like a Mom and Pop grocery store that is sometimes doing good, sometimes bad, but doesn’t know why it is so. The owners of the store happen to have a daughter working as a nurse in London and a son working as a programmer in Melbourne. There is a continuous inflow of remittance, so the owners don’t care if the grocery becomes a supermarket, or not, or have to be spinned off into another business. It might have to be closed down because there is news that SM, Puregold, or Alfa Mart might come up soon near the subdivision. Of course, any bank will give the owners a good credit rating for they are awash with cash, even if the money is not necessarily from the business itself.

    And that is the Philippines; we are awash with cash. The financial managers know PNoy is very slow in implementing projects, so they have flooded the system with cash. By 2016, estimates are that a total of one Trillion of the Budget will be unspent. (Is there a plan in place so that the incumbents will be able to pocket this by the time they step down? Gosh, they will be too-big-to-sue if they would be able to do it; they can buy all the judges, and would still have plenty to spare.) But, how can we sustain the maintenance of all the military hardwares we just bought, if the economy has really just been a bubble. Nothing inside, it is a donut, nothing in the middle. What is evil about these people is that they seem to have installed a switch which they could use to burst the bubble if the next administration is hostile to them. I don’t know, but the signs are there for the so called “hot money” have now started its exit. But, if people have not yet realized this, then there is no way they will know who are the enemies. No wonder the debate is confined to who is the lesser evil among the five, when all these bozos are all about continuing the yellow ways.

    We can’t win a basketball game if there are two or three lousy players in the team, no matter what good intention and “big heart” there is. A soccer team might as well stay in the dug-out and not play if five of its players are injured. And yet, 51% of our population assess themselves to be poor based on the latest survey. How then could we even think of competing in the ASEAN Integration, never mind the global village? (Thailand alone is already making advances in Biotech, and we are contented with launching our own satellites in April. Oh my,we should have done that ten years ago.)

    But first thing first. Japan, South Korea, and China aren’t where they are because they ignored agriculture. No, that is where they all started; don’t forget that Honda, Kawasaki, etc started with supplying crude agricultural implements. It was clear to them that they could not play the game
    when there are players who cannot play. Food security and employment are first, and agriculture is where that could be achieved. Industries develop because of agricultural needs. And Education will always be on rote transfer of knowledge without industries because it is industries that supply the need for critical thinking. Japan, Korea and China started with much lower quality of education than what we have today.

    The problem with the Philippines is it wants to SHORTCUT everything. Forget about foundations, about basics, about principles; we want to be 1st world without the blood, sweat and tears. Thus, the culture is about form and no substance. A consumer society will never outdo a producing nation. OFWs and Call Centers are just paliative measures. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia will outdo us because they have started streamlining their agriculture some time ago. We avoid agriculture because it requires inter-generational solutions; and we are averse to hard thinking –better that there be Aldub and kiligs, Red Horse, Lotto and sabong.

    We tried our hand on land reform, but now are forgetting about it because it is failing. It is failing because we saw it as end not the means. But, the end is about growing the middle class, and land reform is just a mean. We cannot stop once the lands are distributed, there is still the long road to make each -hectare productive for that is how to have a growing middle class. Because we think in terms of form, not substance, we think of large corporate farms. But, nowhere in the world have agriculture started big at the start. They all started as an army of thousand families having their small farms, one to three hectares each, which they attended to with loving care. They all started with so much inefficiency, and yet with time and dedication, have converted unwelcoming land into some of the most productive ones — ask Japan and Korea about it, and maybe in 5 to 10 years, Thailand and Vietnam.

    We feel everybody is against us because we are against ourselves. Who would want to ally with losers?. Media have their oligarchic interest. Candidates and their cronies have their pockets as their interest. Other nation have their own interests. And yet, our interest is about protecting the status quo? Ah my gosh, no wonder we are only looked at as supplying domestic helpers, prostitutes, and beauty queens. When will we ever learn to have a winning attitude?

    Let us start with 2016. Move the discussion to agriculture and unemployment, Vote the candidates that want Labor and Agriculture as a portfolio or advocacy, and avoid candidates who have no interest in these things.. If there is none among the candidates talking about these things, then it is time for a real revolution, not the fake one as EDSA1.



  4. We have never been a Democracy. Our government is Feudal Oligarchy.

    Our Democracy is: “Buy the People; Fool the People; and Off the People”. One Oligarch is replaced by another Oligarch. One family political dynasty is replaced by another family dynasty. It goes on and on and on…like a wheel within a wheel…

    So, on we go continually, as one of the Basket Case country of Asia.

  5. and where EXACTLY is it stated that the ‘industry’ that ‘keeps us informed’ has ‘sworn’ to ‘uphold the truth’? OR that this industry has ‘sworn’ to be ‘motivated to enlighten.’?
    This is a fariy tale and if it is part of any licensing process to actually be able to broadcast or publish anywhere in the Fail-ippines it is constantly ignored, trampled upon and routinely disregarded. If there is noe certainty in the Fail-ippines it is that the government and its lackey media are crooks that tell the people what they want to hear and do exactly what they want to do and the to rarely remain inseparable.

  6. Anyone who stands to benefit (politicians, businesesmen, and television/movie personalities) will take the side of the Filipino. The rest just waits for the crumbs to fall off the dining the table.

  7. The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

    1. Democracy cease to exist when the people lose their voice on how the country should be run. Monopoly is what keeps people from working.

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