It takes real guts not just to stand up to a former colonial master but also walk away from its comfy embrace. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte did just that. By withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), he led Filipinos in demonstrating that they are willing to leave their comfy parents’ nest and fly off to face the world independently and on their terms. That, after all, is what true independence means — not the sort of “independence” generations have been led to believe they had since 1946.
If the current Philippine Opposition under the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtard) leadership had their way, they’d continue to make the Philippine government subordinate to a “criminal court” based on the other side of the world. This is because, for the Yellowtards, being “decent” involves kowtowing to the liberal ideals of a part of the world that once ruled the entire planet.
It is no secret that Filipinos have had a spotty relationship with “democracy” to begin with. History is replete with evidence that Western notions of “freedom” and the “right” to choose have not really served Filipinos well. Indeed, the current leaders of the Opposition seem to be confused themselves. Here is a popularly-elected leader who behaves consistently with the way he conducted himself during the campaign and who, on the back of the very actions and behaviour these Opposition folk detest, remains popular amongst Filipinos. That’s democracy at work, if I recall right. Popularity wins and the minority, at best, get to watch until they win back that popularity and apply it towards winning in the next election. Duterte is leading his country according to what those numbers are telling him.
To be fair, 400 years of Spanish colonial rule followed by half a century of American rule deeply-ingrained in Filipinos the notion that the path to personal success and upward social mobility lies in conforming to the social norms of European masters. One needs to look no further than the works of Jose Rizal, particularly his novels, where he highlights the rather sad way native Filipinos fell all over themselves in their efforts to ape European tradition and be seen and associated with European folk.
Opposition “thought leaders”, however, continue to find perverse validation in the rulings and presumptuous “international courts” set up in the former imperial capitals in the Western hemisphere. Perhaps old habits die hard. The Philippines has been an “independent” country on paper only since 1946. The immense historical weight of four centuries of being subject to colonial rule makes it difficult to overcome a persistent psychological dependence on colonial validation.
When will the Philippines be truly independent?
The answer, it seems, is not coming from the current crop of Opposition leaders who believe in inviting foreign intervention whenever they feel threatened by local sentiments of ordinary Filipinos beginning to dominate the discourse. For the Yellowtards, all things foreign — and Western — are necessarily more valid than the local concepts that pave the path Duterte is leading Filipinos down. That’s not independence, and it certainly is not courage. It is merely a sad unwillingness to take a risk and take this risk in solidarity as a nation. The Opposition would rather it continue sucking nutrients off an old umbilical cord to the West that keeps their minds — and their politics — pathetically stunted.
Duterte’s withdrawal from the ICC is the Philippines’ new Independence Day. The 14th of March 2018 should be marked as the date a new chapter in Filipino nationhood was opened.
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