Dictator’s playbook? There’s no such thing.
What we see is simply the result of incompetence, mediocrity and poor culture manifesting in the field.
Many of these police, barangay officials and other people in the field are what might be called the “menial” (this will trigger some people, but I believe this is still true to life) people – low formal educational attainment, not much education on other things either, just want to pass through life, make ends meet, etc, so they take the “menial” jobs. They’re not like us, the leisure classes who have time to think of “human rights” and try to act like moral police on others’ supposed lack of charity or perceived love for a “dictator.” Some of us might even think of them as “parang katulong lang” (like a housemaid).
Some of them tend to beat up people, including their own families, because they are unable to see any other way to convince or compel people to follow rules or get things done. When things don’t go their way, their usual reaction would be violent. They’re not knowledgeable enough to think out of the box or develop new ways to handle situations. They just follow “procedure.” They just want to pass life by any way they can – makaraos lang. They wish things were simpler and easier, and that a better life could be achieved without much thinking.
The joke going around (or is it?) is that many barangay personnel tend to be former tambays. People who prefer to not work and laze all day. Then they become barangay councillors or patrollers. Some bring with them their tambay culture, and thus tend to beat people up or get mad even if just talking with people.
This could be true even in the US. For example, policeman Derek Chauvin (what a coincidence, if you know the word chauvinism) whose knee-chokehold killed George Floyd was likely that country’s equivalent of our “menial” cultured people. I’ve read that during the Philippine-American War, Americans who committed atrocities tended to be the less educated ones. They may have been racist, but racism as I said is part of cultural practices that mark undesirables in society. You can’t just order them to stop being racist, you first have to convince them that they don’t need to get rid of undesirables. And that’s hard, isn’t it, since all societies seek the removal of undesirables?
Some have suggested that someone with a higher educational attainment become a policeman or “menial” worker. But rarely does it happen, and other people would even discourage it. “Are you dumb, man, that’s the kind of job you want? Use your talents, work in a call center!”
Tyranny is also present in small villages and ethnic cultures. There are likely village chiefs and elders who order families to bring their children to him either to make them slaves or even some pedo fun. There are even villagers who poke fun at and bully fellow villagers who seem weak – isn’t that the theme of many folk tales and Disney flicks?
Remember when it was found that mentally ill people were locked up in cages and left to die during Typhoon Yolanda? Barangay personnel often ordered families to do this too. This is a product of the same mental level. Let’s also not rule out the possibility that abusers could have mental conditions themselves.
I would also say brand of incompetence hounds China. I agree with those saying the coronavirus pandemic and similar things are results of Chinese incompetence. I don’t think they’re smart villains thinking of a plan to conquer the world. They’re more like henchmen in cartoons who mull invasion plans, but shoot themselves in the foot because of inadequate IQ. I don’t think China will successfully invade anyone because of its own incompetence, but indeed, incompetence can cause a lot of effects on the world in other ways.
I agree that we should not be silent about abuses. But I believe that going out in the streets and protesting isn’t the most convincing and effective way to address them. Neither is directing anger at only one “dictator.” Same with pulling down statues of perceived dictators and racists. If you want to stop abuses, it’s not about stopping one man, but a whole bunch of them.
But then again, I believe the real oppressor isn’t one man, a dictator or even just men. It’s not who, but what. Get Real Philippines has always echoed the late Teddy Benigno’s The Real Culprit – culture. The culture of people, what they believe and were taught to believe, their reaction to the environment, their habits, their philosophy in life, their actual behavior and more. It is what makes the Filipino his own worst enemy.
It’s a reminder that we are a third world country (OK, developing… but many Filipinos’ minds haven’t really developed). Many Filipinos, even some who are already educated, still have yet to attain a level of “higher culture.” If they do, they can be more sober, less temperamental and able to react to problems without getting violent.
Some may ask, how do we make this happen? Webmaster Benign0 said companies are able to implement culture change programs with success. I myself wonder why hasn’t anyone tried that kind of approach to society.
Others would say, education is the key! But what kind of education? Formal education gives no guarantee of a sound mind. Take note that leaders of terrorist groups are often educated people, so some argue that formal education has been poisoned with something that makes people destructive and hateful.
Filipinos seem to be more educated by mass media and popular culture these days. Most local TV tends to educate people to follow their foot and have what they want, even if they step on others in the process. This is why some celebrate the signing off of ABS-CBN from radiowaves, although I believe there is a better way to hold the TV company accountable for its trashy content. Nowadays, though, we have the Internet to provide alternatives, which even poor people can access these days.
Hopefully, more new media reaches families to help them develop resistance to popular culture, be more open to changes to values, and cut down “tambay” or “menial” culture.
To end, I say no, we are not in a fascist state. It’s the same old third world Filipino incompetence that plagues us. Now people will tell me, “stop blaming the people for what is the leaders’ fault!” Wait until you meet kamote drivers on the road or the mugger on the street, or even an NPA operative who wants to kill you on the spot… let’s see if you can tell me the same thing again. And remember, it’s not impossible for “menial” people to later become politicians.
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