Why the melancholy?
By Andrew Lim
Preserving the gains of the EDSA 86 revolution and the Aquino administration
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in this country where men were free.”– paraphrasing Ronald Reagan
Of late, I’ve noticed an uptick on the pessimism-meters of several netizen/commenters here on JoeAmerica’s blog as well as Raissa’s. Worried for their preferred candidate’s chances, they lament and express disgust, resignation and talk of giving up. I’m not immune to this myself. When you realize that so many of us do not read history, or cannot distinguish a reputable source of news or info from the fake ones, you entertain thoughts like this:
While stuck in traffic, I reflected upon the much vaunted Filipino “resiliency”. I wonder if a huge component of this trait is actually ignorance and simple-mindedness? Because these two qualities protect you from worry, depression and enable you to smile, I ask: is the Filipino considered resilient because deep down he is ignorant and simple-minded? Is the Filipino resilient only up to the point of surviving with a smile, but not to rebuild back stronger since that requires knowledge and planning?
But I digress. Let’s leave that topic for some other time.
I am an unabashed optimist, one who loves to rile up an Angela Stuart Santiago or an Ellen Tordesillas, and in the business “of getting things done”. I’m not just a half-glass full type, I also love dousing water on the pessimists, causing them to feel even more miserable. Mind you, I’m not the polyannaish type, but I concentrate on what can be done instead of whining. It’s just the way I am wired.
Sure, there are several post-Aquino scenarios that do not look palatable, but they are not all the same. And they are not all hopeless, even the worst case one. This paper will discuss the worst case scenario, and cover some of the concerns for the less-worse scenarios as well. Believe me, there is much opportunity in the future, even if it means some medium-term conflict and instability.
Ranking the possible election results, I consider the Duterte-Marcos or Binay-Marcos tandems the worst-case scenarios. All others are far less worse in varying degrees and will be less harmful to the gains of EDSA 86 and the Aquino administration. I excluded considering Santiago, since her numbers are way off. Note that while Bongbong Marcos is merely running for VP, we consider the scenarios that he succeeds to the top post, or plots to run in 2022 for President.
To help us assess and analyze our situation let us review the institutions/segments that will matter:
MEDIA – Save for two newspapers which has served as retirement homes for has-been speechwriters and enablers of the discredited Marcos and Arroyo regimes, much of Philippine mass media will never be warm to the Marcoses and will never be friendly to a corrupt or abusive regime. After all, they were among those who suffered before – when all media save for the crony-owned were padlocked and staff jailed. They will remain as guardians of memory. In addition, the story of ill-gotten wealth st ill in Marcos hands is live and ongoing, and they will continue to cover this.
Internet-based news organizations and social media are extremely difficult to disable – unless Bongbong or Duterte has plans to cut the submarine cables that connect the country to the world. This is highly unlikely due to the immense political cost of adverse world opinion and the availability of redundant systems.
So media will remain a convergence point for future initiatives.
MILITARY/POLICE – Though not entirely impossible, it will take hard effort and considerable time for Bongbong to corrupt the military and police again, giving democratic forces a good chance of countering it. Much has been done to reform these services: the recent upgrades in the arsenal, the improvement in salaries and benefits to cite a few. Mamasapano notwithstanding, morale and pride in the service is high. Turning them once more on the civilian population will be extremely hard, unless they invent new “enemies” to justify it. Highly unlikely.
YOUTH/MILLENIALS– It has been noted that a power base for the Marcoses is the Facebook generation of millenials. What has not been discussed much is where their parents are. So many of them come from dysfunctional families – broken families, single parents, in the care of relatives, parents working abroad, so there is no responsible adult to educate them. They are flailing around and alone in their mis-education.
Banking on ignorance, Imee Marcos has nurtured several generations of students in Ilocos state universities in the Marcos mythology. They have effectively used peer pressure – where the lure of conforming to the pack is stronger than the need to think critically and learn the true historical record or apply the sense of right and wrong.
For reference, see this previous article: Return the ill-gotten wealth first, BongBong (#SAANGALINGANGPERAMO)
Take note though that today’s Marcos youth is much inferior to the activists of the sixties. The difference is like night and day. While activists before were willing to get hurt and die for a cause they believed in, today’s youth will throw a tantrum at the slightest inconvenience – say, losing internet/cellular signal or heavy traffic. Even more importantly, there is no moral basis, no ideal or cause to fight for these Marcos youth. Their only motivation is to be rebellious to their elders and to be different. It is arrogance based on ignorance.
These groups are very unlikely to mass up, study the literature and organize themselves for a cause like their older counterparts. They could hardly string together three sentences in their social media posts without choking on the sentence construction, train of thought or grammar. Other than sloganeering and shallow name calling, they are incapable of discussion; their social media commenters are of the one-and-done, shoot and scoot varieties. They also have no credible public intellectuals to represent them.
Their only power is the vote. I am confident that many of them will wither away once the problems of the next administration reveal themselves and pile up. The youth’s preference for counter-culture favors those not in power, so the roles will be reversed in due time. At some point in the near future, it will be cool to know the excesses of the Marcos Martial Law regime, instead of the opposite.
BUSINESS GROUPS – Though their number one concern is business, I am confident that today’s crop of business leaders are fully aware of the pernicious effects of cronyism, and will resist it. Unlike the rest of the population, they are keenly aware how much the economic environment has improved and would like to keep it that way.
CATHOLIC CHURCH- Though relations with the Aquino government was strained due to RH, I foresee a linking of arms once more because corruption and lack of integrity will be the core issues again under the worst-case scenarios.
UNITED STATES – I have one strategy to stop the Marcoses that involves the support of the US and intelligence agencies of other countries. It’s based on the following premises:
1.The Marcoses have no more “communist” cards to play. Back in the 70-80s, when the Cold War was at its peak, Ferdinand Marcos effectively used the US military bases as a bargaining chip in exchange for US tolerance of his corruption and brutality. The US was too concerned with Marxist expansion in the region so it was willing to play along. Today, the Cold War is over and the US has a very warm relationship with the Philippines with its EDCA and VFA agreement s.
2.The US has nothing to gain with the return of the Marcoses; in fact the opposite is true: they have more to lose since their return will result in new instability, a lack of integrity in the leadership, and a strong potential to send the economy downwards again. This threatens its economic and geopolitical interests.
The strategy: through diplomatic and backdoor channels, concerned groups will get in touch with sympathetic elements in the US State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Anti-Money Laundering units plus other relevant agencies abroad to do the following:
a. Get fresh information on the recent movements of the Marcos wealth. For sure, they have been exerting all effort to hide them in safe havens, but in today’s world, virtually anything can be sniffed out, if you do it well. The same technologies to track drug cartel money can be used. Come out with an updated catalog on all the loot recovered and those still missing.
b. Get this info out to the public in the broadest possible way.
c. Initiate new legal proceedings that will result from these findings.
What’s in it for America? It enhances its status as a world power that tries to do the right thing while simultaneously protecting its interests in the region.
What’s in it for the Philippines? This will keep the issue of integrity front and center for the entire duration of Bongbong’s term.
Even in the worst case scenario where Bongbong wins the vice-presidency, his political stock/future will be damaged so badly, he will not be able to rule effectively at all.
WHAT BONGBONG IS LIKELY TO DO?
If he wins as VP, expect him to go for low-hanging fruit – burial for his father in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and weakening the PCGG while continuing to build his power base. He will push to change the historical records. But most probably, he will just play political judo in the beginning, avoid direct confrontation with detractors and back down if the protests get too loud. Will he turn oppresive and dictatorial in his first six years? Not likely. But as Senator Saguisag says, “yung mabolo, ang bunga mabolo rin” (fruit from the same tree will bear the same) so it is certain that he will plot a run for 2022. That’s when he will be most dangerous. So the time to act is now.
- Remember that Pnoy and the Liberal Party will still be around (though it is likely to lose some members who will flock to the winners) to serve as rallying points and counter-weight to a corrupt administration. Who knows, maybe both Binay and Marcos will be found impeachable?
- Keep in mind that the public has a short memory, reacting to only what’s in front of them. The anger directed at the incumbents for the traffic problem for instance, can be re-directed to the new administration in a couple of years’ time, because it’s unlikely to solve it in that time frame.
- You think the allies of either Binay, Duterte and Marcos can keep their hands off the Treasury or behave ethically? You think those charged in the pork barrel scam will not attempt to get favors? Leopards hardly change their spots, and this will cause the next administration to be unstable. By this time, it will be easy to shift the narrative once more, and convince the public again that integrity matters.
- The world economy is projected to be more problematic in the next few years, with low oil prices, more failed Middle East states, terrorism, climate change. Even a new financial collapse in the US is expected. The next administration will not likely operate in an era of global optimism, adding to its instability. High unemployment will remain and may even rise, the public will not like this, and disenchantment with the new administration will set in.
So there you have it – there are plenty of opportunities for democratic forces to use in dealing with a corrupt and oppressive post-Aquino administration.
Remember that EDSA 86 happened because people took action. We even have far more “weapons” at our disposal this time. We only need to act and counter the forces that threaten our hard fought gains.
Ephesians 6: 12-17
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.