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Until we hit rock bottom again….
That seems to characterize the course of our journey as a nation. And the journeying itself has earned us praises for tolerance and resiliency. But I wonder whether, in our case, those capacities make for anything worthy of praise.
We may have managed to survive going from rock bottom to rock bottom, but that actually strikes me as something unconscionable – unconscionable in varying degrees, depending on where we sit on the income band: the more comfortable we are the more we need to search our consciences.
The arrangement has not only perpetuated but worsened the immorally lopsided distribution of our commonly, equally deserved resources and opportunities. It has made the rich richer, taken away – oh, and do I definitely feel it now! – from the middle and slightly lower classes, and doomed the poor ever deeper into despondency.
An appropriately exhaustive study of our history should turn up enough evidence of rock-bottom struggles to show a pattern of opportunities lost as soon as they have presented themselves. Anyway, for my simple and general purpose here, I cite only instances of recent times and have chosen them for their obviousness.
The first occurred in the 1980s. At around mid-decade we finally rose to the challenge; in fact, we rose up. In a massive street vigil, in 1986, a bloodless revolt known to the world as People Power and widely copied since, we brought down the dictator. We chased Ferdinand Marcos and his family and cronies out to foreign exile, although not before they could bury us in debt that will not be fully paid until 2025. Not factored in yet in this accounting is the $10-billion loot the Marcos family ran away with on its own.
Unquantifiable at all are the lives lost under the Marcos dictatorship. One was that of Benigno Aquino, Marcos’ arch rival, whose assassination in 1983 brought the situation to a boil. Particularly regrettable in the longer run was the brutal ending of the lives of many young men and women of great leadership promise who fought the dictatorship.
Still, despite those losses, we could have ridden the wave of People Power and, on its own momentum alone, might have been able to cover some decent distance toward deliverance. But, apparently, we’re not made for that; we’re simply too shortsighted and too easy to burn out.
Marcos’ heirs were back a mere five years later in a deal that would, supposedly, allow the recovery of their plunder; so far, only half of it has actually been recovered. In the meantime, we have cast our vote, which we had lost for 14 years and had to reclaim by revolt, to put two Marcos disciples and an outright Marcos clone in the presidency. In between (2010-2016), we did elect a man who gave us not merely decent but outstanding service. But we insulted him in return, voting for the clone to succeed him. It seems that our shortsightedness did not allow us to see what we had gained as something to build on or that we just don’t like working hard.
Now, we have an authentic Marcos succeeding the clone – Ferdinand’s own Junior. Completing the dynastic power cast, Junior’s first cousin Martin Romualdez, blood nephew to his uniquely infamous mother, Imelda, is the Speaker, sister Imee is a senator, and son Sandro is sitting in Congress for the native Marcos district in Ilocos Norte province – give him six years and he’ll be old enough to be president.
It’s rock-bottom time again, and, if still we haven’t learned from our past, we could find ourselves in a worse situation than ever, because the Marcoses have learned from theirs; otherwise, they could not have come this far since their fall in 1986. The Marcos regime is now tracking the popular mood, which seems currently to go against China and its champion, ex-President Rodrigo Duterte, and trying to align itself to it. For instance, it has back-pivoted diplomatically toward the United States and away from China. It is also dropping Duterte’s party from the ruling coalition.
But two things constitute a more direct targeting of Duterte: one, a congressional proposal for the country to admit prosecutors from the International Criminal Court, in The Hague, and allow them to build their case against Duterte for the extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs; and, two, the release of Leila de Lima, human-rights champion and former senator, from nearly seven years of imprisonment as a victim of Duterte’s vengeful fixation. He had drug charges manufactured against her after she had gone after him for death-squad murders in Davao City when he was mayor there.
The danger is for us to be so taken with all these concessions we might begin to think of leaving our fates to the Marcoses, something not new and altogether not unlikely given our shortsighted, easy-to-burn-out nature. Let’s not allow all that self-deodorizing fool us. The Marcoses are the same family of torturers, murderers, and plunderers who sent us to the worst pits we’ve ever been.
And we may well be back there now. – Rappler.com