EDITOR'S NOTE: Kami.com.ph welcomes contributions from its readers. Here is an an article from a person who choose to identify himself as “Counterflow”. Counterflow was an editor of the defunct Theobservers.net.EDITOR'S NOTE: Kami.com.ph welcomes contributions from its readers. Here is an an article from a person who choose to identify himself as “Counterflow”. Counterflow was an editor of the defunct Theobservers.net. Kami.com.ph does not necessarily share the views of its contributors.
AVERTING THE "DUPOCALYPSE"
The Politics of Fear
In the early 70s, the Philippines was in a state of panic. Bombs going off at random. Clashes between protesters and the police. Even the elite was not safe – the Secretary of Defense was ambushed, senatorial candidates were bombed. There seemed to be no escape, and more were convinced that needed as a strong, steady hand that could protect us and keep us safe from the terrors of the outside world. Even if some of those incidents were instigated by that strong, steady hand. That man was Ferdinand Marcos. And in the next 14 years, in the name of keeping you safe from terror, he made use of the resources of the state to instill fear into the hearts of every Filipino and cowed them into quiet submission to his theft and aggrandizement.
Fast forward to 2016. In the lead up to the elections, crime is on everyone’s thoughts. Crime is personal – no thought can be spared for objective statistics about crime, for it is your life, virtue, and property at stake. No one is safe – we share the streets with all manner of people, any one of which could carry a knife or a gun that would relieve us of the fruits of our labor. Our houses could be invaded, our persons violated. As we did in 1972, we fear for our safety, and we call out for a strongman who can protect us.
That man is Rodrigo Duterte, as he never fails to remind us after saying that crime is rampant. He fits the bill. He talks tough. He says he will not hesitate to kill to protect us. He points to Davao City and brags about his accomplishments. Sure, can be rude. Sure, he can take liberties with women, maybe joke about being first in line for a gang rape. Sure, he does not take well to criticism – he’d rather destroy important international relationships than admit he’s wrong. But that’s okay, he will keep us safe. Only those who have anything to fear need fear the Davao Death Squad. Those kids who were murdered surely had it coming. No one will dare kill you – you are a morally upright, law-abiding citizen.
And even if you have doubts about the man, perhaps it is safer to keep those thoughts to myself. You know crime wasn’t an issue until he started his campaign. You keep quiet about the actual state of crime in Davao. You don’t point out that Lambat-Sibat of PNP substantially reduced crime without the murder of children and bystanders. You don’t wonder out loud how crime can be eliminated in 3-6 months when crime is still rampant in Davao after more than two decades with Duterte as mayor. You don’t mention all the lies being peddled by the Duterte Swarm, who through their volume and vitriol dominate the discussion on social media.
Who would want to risk the ire of the Duterte Swarm and have your inbox filled with threats to your life? Rape, theft, murder – the very crimes that Duterte will abolish in a hail of bullets – will be visited on you by his followers for the unforgivable crime of not believing, of speaking out. What are you to do?
Do you give in to fear? Do you sit quietly, praying that the death squads will not have you in their sights? Or do you take comfort in the fact that you are not alone – depending on the survey, those who prefer not to support Duterte comprise 70% or more of the population? Are you going to make a stand and set a bright red line where Duterte cannot cross?
But who do you turn to? The Vice President, Jejomar Binay? An experienced human rights lawyer, he seems to be the best fit. A poor orphan who collected scraps to feed pigs, his ability and ambition was such that he was able to make it into UP Law. Bullied by classmates because of his poverty, he nevertheless persevered and is now a heartbeat away from the Presidency. From the poor, perhaps he is your champion.
Then you remember, he stands accused of channeling millions of taxpayers’ money to his pockets. Accusations that were never satisfactorily answered. Accusations that four different government agencies – COA, the Ombudsman, the Senate, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council say are true. A Binay presidency seems to be a repeat of the Arroyo presidency – an administration on the defensive, reeling from one massive corruption scandal to the next.
Nope. Perhaps Grace Poe is a better fit. Untainted by corruption, she projects an image of a fresh neophyte, a newcomer eager to challenge the status quo. Raised by the legendary Fernando Poe, Jr., she vowed to continue her father’s legacy. Calm, collected, and wearing white dresses, she would not hesitate to roll up her sleeves and get to work leading decent Filipinos to a better future.
Then you remember, what did FPJ do? Aside from making movies, that is. Didn’t she swear an oath to defend the United States, with her life if need be? An oath she broke because she was offered a government position? She is untainted, but it’s like saying a baby has never sinned – maybe the opportunity to turn down temptations simply hasn’t presented itself to her. And it is a bit troubling that she would champion coconut farmers while defending Danding Cojuangco at the same time.
A Poe administration would seem like putting a company in the hands of an intern – all these new war rooms, barangay rooms, and map rooms in Malacañang, then a security czar and all these other czars – cosmetic improvements and make-work stuff. And given her inexperience, the President might be at the mercy of advisers. Cory might have had even less experience, but the situation now is not as dire as it was before. And Cory was a symbol and had a clear priority – restoration of democracy. Today, it’s not clear what direction Poe wants, except to appoint czars.
Then there is Mar. He’s not your first choice. Quoting numbers, rambling on too long at times, he is not your idea of a savior. From your Facebook feed, he seems to be responsible for everything that went wrong with the Aquino administration – Yolanda, MRT, if they could blame him for the death of Rizal, they would. But then you wonder… why is Mar so hated? Why is there so much vitriol for a man described by other candidates as a pushover? If that is the case, why put so much effort to smearing him? Even when he was at the bottom of the surveys, his opponents never missed an opportunity to take a swipe at the man. What do they see in him that most of us don’t?
Mar might be a nerd, but even nerds have backbones too. And in this case, the man’s backbone has been proven over and over again – he deliberately picked a fight with pharmaceutical companies to get the Cheaper Medicines Act passed. These are companies rich enough to make the Araneta clan look like beggars in comparison. He dissuaded his family from cashing in on the call center industry that he pioneered. He fired four generals in one day – something not even Marcos dared do.
He has moral authority – Congress, Senate, DTI, DOTC, DILG – despite the lucrative opportunities offered by his positions, he was never tainted with corruption. You can be sure because by now, his opponents would have found something by this point if there is something to be found. He doesn’t have expensive vices. He would eat soup out of a cup if there’s no bowl around.
He knows the true meaning of leadership. He would always head to the center of the storm, literally or figuratively. He would head straight to ground zero on a motorcycle if need be, and pick himself up and continue no matter how many times he crashes. He would stand by his men to the end, wait alone on a runway to welcome them back even from a mission he didn’t know anything about.
Mar is not the rabble rousing leader who would inspire crowds to a frenzy with cuss words and tall tales. He is not the handshaking politician who would promise you instant solutions to your problems. He is a doer. He would first bore you with a history of the problem, analysis of the root causes, before giving a proposal to solve the problem for everyone, explained in excruciating detail. His path is not always the fastest, but it is always the most principled and most effective. He inspires with his quiet determination and not the manipulation of base emotions.
He is the perfect antithesis to Duterte. He is not impulsive. He is not arbitrary. He will do the right thing in the right way. He will not sacrifice the poor, the young, the powerless for the sake of getting on the six o’clock news. Mar has never surrendered when he is on the right, regardless of how powerful his opponents might be. Mar never compromised his moral compass, and Mar never lost sight of the people behind the tables, charts, and data he deals with. Every decision is made knowing that a real person, with a real family, with real hopes and dreams would bear the brunt of the consequences.
In short, he is the leader we’ve always asked for. He is the man you want beside you when things go bad – someone with the courage, intelligence, and experience to do what must be done. He is the leader who can defeat the angry swarm. He is Mar Roxas.