Senator Angara shows why the Philippines is a failing state
By Joe America
What makes a successful state? Success is achieved when laws, institutions, and leaders inspire citizens to work together for the common good. Citizens choose to sacrifice to build something special because it makes their lives better and helps them feel proud.
Dictators have a hard time generating success because leaders too often command and suppress, they do not inspire, except among a closed circle of beneficiaries.
Democracy has a hard time achieving success because good voting requires knowledge and a willingness among voters to sacrifice as a matter of responsibility. Unfortunately, we humans are woefully ignorant, emotional, and self-involved peoples. These days, social media inject this emotional ignorance directly into our everyday lives and decision-making.
Dictatorship inspires power-mongering and the stacking of peoples, one above another, as betters and lessers. It divides, sharply. On the other hand, democracy drowns everyone in an amalgamated mush so that we are not unlike lumps in a bowl of mashed potatoes. Unity arises only when an event or peculiarly inspirational leader cause nationalism to rise. “Arise, lumps! Fight on!”
Even that grand moral beacon, America, has drowned her normally inspired citizenry in wild populist rhetoric totally detached from knowledge. The grand ideals of Jefferson and Lincoln and Martin Luther King are gone, little more than hazy historical figments in the crass, bizarre populism of President Trump and his loyalists.
And the Philippines. The Philippines.
The Philippines is a democracy in name only, a very lumpy, very cold, dish.
People like Senator Sonny Angara are a big part of why.
There are others. I cite him because his choice to straddle between autocratic and democratic camps has become legend on social media.
Senator Angara is an intelligent man, hard-working and productive in terms of laws passed, son of a dignified former senator. Well educated. Possessing a good awareness of his surroundings. He is not ignorant, for sure.
So we can know that all he does is willfully thought out.
I caught an interview with him on television the other day, one of those soft populist puff pieces masquerading as local news. He was in a car, just a regular guy. I changed the channel when he got to the part about how President Duterte is a good leader because he gives the senators more discretionary funds to use for projects they want done.
He did not say ‘pork’, but that is the name of the beast.
I thought to myself, yes, that is the kind of patriotism Senator Angara must subscribe to. The tangible, cash on the table kind. The incidents of abuse of pork are legend and legion, and pork is a large reason why the Philippines is mired in poverty. Projects are too often applied to the benefit of the legislators and their friends, not the nation. It is this kind of thinking that has dragged Philippine democracy into the pit of self-interest and poverty ever since Aguinaldo took cattle from the people to try to bribe US Admiral Dewey into accepting his republic as a qualified, independent state.
Aguinaldo, Napoles, Marcos, Enrile, Estrada . . . Binay, Kid Marcos . . . and today hundreds of representatives and mayors and thousands of dirty cops and agency workers seem to be busy lining their own pockets rather than taking care of the nation and leading it to prosperity. The country’s top leaders see the death penalty as infrastructure and jailing 9 year-olds as proper parenting. For sure these backward deeds are not in the national interest. Enabling of EJK’s? Acquiesance to China? Looking the other way about the President’s bank transactions or how foreign nations may have put him into office?
It is a misguided democracy, for sure. And Senator Angara is in the thick of it.
In a recent blog, I described Senator Angara as an empty vessel. I’ve long thought that about Senator Grace Poe, as well. But perhaps they are not really empty. Maybe they are filled with need, the kind of need that does not allow them the courage to take patriotic stands. For sure, the two senators talk a good game . . . but they seem blind to the path that the Philippines is on, and the tens of thousands of people bearing grief for lost love ones. Blind to the cruelty of government attacks on decency and decent people. Theirs seems to be a calculated gaming of the system, playing of the politics, manipulation of the public, for their own benefit.
But if you think about it, a person with a foot in both camps cannot, by definition, be a part of the principled camp, the one that understands democracy requires courage and commitment. If they had principles, they’d know that being a ‘tweener’ is betrayal of conscience, and betrayal of courage, and betrayal of those who DO give of themselves, for the nation.
Senator Angara is just one more of the self-involved ‘tweeners’, the enablers of a failing Philippines. Government is filled with them.
Well, they are free to be themselves within the law. They were elected by the people, or appointed within the rules.
It is up to us, however, to make sure that we are clear on who they are, why they do what they do . . . and to criticize or praise, as deserved . . . and vote smart in 2019.