by Juan L. Mercado

“Sick.  Sick. Sick”, Leonor Lagasca emailed.  “Convicted for plunder, Erap will run for president. Panfilo Lacson preaches ‘ethics’ while handcuffed to the Kuratong Baleleng and   Dacer-Corbito murders.

“This is a nuthouse,” she added. “Given these ‘models’, how do I tell my high school daughter what to shun? And what to emulate.” 
Hindi ka nagi-isa, ma’am.  Ex-Palace  chief of staff Mike Defensor frets over teaching his children “values”. He  prodded Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada against testifying on oligarchs, like the First Gentleman and Benjamin Abalos, poking into the $328 million ZTE broadband scam Mike failed. So he sued Lozada for — for perjury!.

“No nation in Asia has had its hopes dashed so often,” David  Camroux of Le Monde writes. “Technically, the  Philippines is a democracy. But actually, it is an oligarchy.”  It’s original  landowning elite, has been  muscled aside by dynasties from industry, services, even entertainment.”

The country has universal suffrage, a free press, an extensive public school system, etc. The Catholic bishops promote  free elections, in a very egalitarian society. Do they “involuntarily perpetuate a system in which the privileges of the elite are entrenched and defended?”, he asked. A politicized military is a Marcos legacy.

Can political democracy can be viable without a certain level of economic democracy?” Canmroux asks.  “This is a country where 40-50% live below the poverty line.”

Look at the track record. Ferdinand Marcos shattered the old oligarchs’ grip on government with  martial law bayonets. In the process, he enthroned himself, family — plus generals and cronies —  as the “New Society’s” oligarchs.

People Power chased them into exile. Imelda, Bong Bong and Irene today spend time trying to ferret wealth the dictator stashed with cronies — who prefer to keep them.  Karma?

Today’s oligarchs retain their grip on levers of government.  Two-thirds of Congress members  came from political dynasties, Philippine Center for Investigative  Journalism notes.  Being  hostaged, by new  tycoons, they find is profitable, as their ancestors discovered under caciques.  Fortunes of some congressmen almost tripled between 1992 and 2001.

Thus, the Supreme Court rapped the Commission on  Elections for “Mega-Pacific’s P1.3 billion computer scam.” “Sure, it’s a crime, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez shrugs. But there are no criminals. “Poison pills”emerge in legislative tax exemptions for cigarette factories.

Reform rhetoric, meanwhile, blankets the frenzy about charter change. This is nothing but clinging to power. ‘Oh  that way madness lies/ Let me shun that” King Lear once said. 

Filipinos now face the prospect of being screwed again in cha-cha. They usually resort to wisecracks. Like this one:

A retired teacher had a teenage son. And it was time the boy should think give about choosing a  profession.  But like many young men his age, the boy didn’t know what he wanted to do.  Nor did he seem concerned either. 

While the boy was at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy’s room and placed on his study table four objects: (a) the Bible; (b) a P500  bill; (c) a bottle of  scotch; and (d) a Playboy magazine.

‘When he comes home from school, I’ll  peek from the next room to see which object he picks up.

If it’s the holy book, why he could become a priest. That’d be a blessing. If he picks up the money,  he’ll be a business man That’s okay.

“If he chooses the bottle, he’s going to be a drunk. Nakakahiya.  And if he picks up the magazine, he’ll be a womanizer.

Soon, he heard his son enter the house. The boy tossed his books on the bed.  Curious  about  the objects on the table, he inspected them.

Finally, he placed the Holy Book and under his arm.  He shoved the money into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big  swig, while he admired the magazine’s centerfold.

” the old man whispered. “He’s going to be a Lakas-Kampi politician!

The wisecrack resonates because it’s anchored to a harsh truth: people perpetually teeter between disaster and deferred hope because government remains hostage to new  oligarchs. They’re as  grasping as the old.

That explains the irritated Malacanang retort to Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s Davao speech: that government is beholden to oligarchs.   “Start with your own backyard,””  snapped  Press Secretary Cerge Remonde.

Democracy will be synthetic if government remains hostage”, Puno said. Government regulators  must exercise autonomy and not cave in. A system, handcuffed by the few rich, will not enable Filipinos to move forward. Moral renewal by citizens is an equal imperative.

Puno’s assessment  “ is borne of a long Marxist-Leninist analysis”, Remonde huffed. It will take  time and political address a semi-fuedal structure.

Indeed “there are deep fissures between community and bureaucracy….   Ineffectiveness of government leads a splintering of efforts on parts of communal groups and a loss of confidence in government….We must recapture the bureaucracy, then build and link communities with common goals….”

Malacanang should put away it’s clubs. That’s not Marx or Chief Justice Puno speaking. That  comes from the historian Horacio de la Costa, SJ, speaking on “Justice and Development:” for  this benighted country.  

(Email: juanlmercado@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Leave a Comment