The President That Can Bring Change

by Fr. Shay Cullen

The hope and dream of every Filipino is to see a transformation in the land and its people. They never cease to hope for the Filipino Messiah, a true, honest, charismatic President that will have nation-wide support of the indigenous people, the small farmers and the millions of marginalized Filipinos. The ideal President would rise to national leadership from this mass-base through a non-violent democratic process. With a solid base, such a president would have the courage and public support to take a stand on behalf of the 90 million dispossessed impoverished Filipinos that hunger and thirst for justice, freedom, peace and prosperity. With a base like that, he or she would not be beholden to the monied class, the corporations, the landowners, and the foreign interests. He would be free to rule according to the law and an enlightened moral vision.

That is the freedom the people want most, freedom from servile slavery to patrons and monied masters, free from the forced docility of the sex slavers, free to know the truth about themselves, their rights and dignity. They want to be free to speak and write the truth, to read and see and hear it. They want to know and understand why they wallow in flooded slums surrounded by the towering condominiums and mansions of their masters.

They thirst for the knowledge of how and why they are ruled as they are; cheated, harassed, denied decency and dignity, the basics of life and survival. They want to know why they are so poor and powerless. They want a president to be on their side to help them understand how and by whom they were robbed of their rights and national wealth, How they lost the resources that are rightly theirs but seized and controlled by a “regime of the rich”. There is no leader, candidate or political messiah capable to answer and speak of these realities. There is none yet with the political power or the moral force to change them. Yet one might just emerge, this is the hope of the powerless and the poor. It helps them survive one day more from one handful of rice to the next.

Filipinos of integrity and vision have come and gone, lived and died, have risen and fallen, cried out and were silenced, stood up and were shot down. They almost found the road to freedom through the grassroots social justice organizations that gave Bolivians their Evo Morales. He rose through the social organizations of the indigenous peoples of which he was one. He united them around labor rights, farmers’ rights and human rights. Without such a non-violent, democratic grass-roots organization, a natural born leader cannot unite the majority behind him or her. The closest that the self-sacrificing Filipinos came to a comparable situation was through the Federation of Free Farmers that grew rapidly in the 1950s and its truly inspiring leader Jeremias U. Montemayor who died June 2002, could have been an Evo Morales but the imposition of martial law changed everything.

Evo Morales of Bolivia and the social organizations of indigenous people that he leads to this day as their democratically-elected president can be a model for others to learn from. They give hope, inspire idealism, and open-up great possibilities as it did in Bolivia. This model of national democratic transformation succeeded where violent revolution failed. It is not the only way but just one way. The indigenous Bolivian people made up of 55 percent of the population with another 30 percent of mixed race, yet all were ruled by the 15 percent that were descended from Spanish conquistadors or European migrants. When the majority was enlightened with a knowledge of the truth about their rights, they organized a movement to make them a reality.

They elected one of their own, Evo Morales, of indigenous decent, born into extreme poverty. He became the elected leader and after years of political and economic struggle, succeeded in winning the presidency in 2005. He was reelected in 2009 with 63% of the vote. The rule of the dynastic families ended, the elite retreated, the wealthy were forced to surrender their ill-gotten gains, the natural resources were taken back for the people. The ruling elite, perhaps sixty powerful families, were brought down from their thrones and sent away empty on the election day and now the majority rules. Why couldn’t it happen in the Philippines?



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