Arroyo and Erap show our political bankruptcy
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-01-18
Consider yourself God-forsaken if your only choices for leaders have been narrowed down to the likes of Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and Josef Stalin. If such is the case, you can only conclude that it must really be time to repent because the end is near.

To have a leader like Hitler, Amin, Hussein and Stalin is to suffer a plague that approximates Biblical proportions. A famine can devastate your country for a year or two but leaders like Hitler, Amin, Hussein and Stalin embody the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The effects of what they sow are known to hang around for decades.

The way the options for the May 2007 elections are shaping, many Filipinos are actually feeling desperately stuck with the status quo. A lot of them do not relish being made to choose only between the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime and the come-backing has-beens rallying around the banner of Joseph "Erap" Estrada. To many, a choice like this approximates picking between a cocktail of arsenic and a brew of cyanide.

They call themselves the United Opposition but I wonder with whom they are united. Certainly not with me or the many patriotic Filipinos I know who write and talk to me, saying that they only want the country to move forward and create a better standard of living for the teeming millions of Filipinos now living in sub-human conditions.

Many of the politicians I saw in the last press conference held by the United Opposition have already been rejected by voters. Remnants of the Marcos and the Estrada regimes, they are now trying to re-invent themselves under the new political climate that had evolved from the series of crises that have hounded the current regime of Madame Arroyo. Two of these are a dancing queen and a big promoter of showbiztocracy during the 2004 presidential election.

Had the Arroyo regime not generated so much stink, none of them would have entertained ideas of running again. They are waging bets that our outrage over the Arroyo regime can actually obliterate our memory of their past sins.

What makes them think we will want to welcome them back just because we can no longer stomach the one who now rules? What makes the United Opposition think that they are the only alternative? No rational person will want to vomit poison from inside his system only to replace it with another toxic substance.

Some of those who have shared with me their disgust with the United Opposition as sole option for the Arroyo regime reflected on options that treaded radical lines. They had never before entertained aligning with the Communist Left or the military adventurist Right but when forced to choose only between Arroyo and Erap and their ilk, they now start to consider the Left and the Right as alternatives. To these disillusioned folks, General Danny Lim and Joma Sison are beginning to look very appealing.

And who can blame them for thinking and feeling that way? Since martial law was imposed by Ferdinand Marcos in 1972, we have been undergoing a never-ending cycle of crises that has taken this nation on a roller coaster ride to nowhere for the last 35 years. Our economy has sunk so low, the misery index has never been this bad. Our political system has never been this corrupt and our self-esteem as a people has been eroded to the point that most of our youth would prefer to have been born of a different nationality, rather than Filipino.

Only hell can possibly be worse than this! Anyone who has been seriously ill for 35 years with no cure in sight will certainly want to find relief for his agony by choosing a radical albeit relatively risky treatment or worse, take the escapist route of ending it all.

I hope the rabid promoters of Charter change (Cha-cha) do not pick up on this idea as a way of repackaging their botched attempt to derail real reform. The nation knows that their overtures for Cha-cha are but an attempt to keep the status quo entrenched.

Come to think of it, God almighty may indeed be setting this country up for a major overhaul of the political landscape. I am not trying to second guess the Lord. I am only human and I cannot assume to fathom the Divine. But I can certainly compare historical parallels when mankind had been redeemed from their helplessness to enjoy a new era of peace and well-being.

The events that led to World War I and the effects of the so-called Great War are a good case in point. We may ask: Where was God and sanity when a fanatic Serbian student assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire which triggered that war? In that war, mechanized warfare demonstrated for the first time how one battle alone can turn entire villages and towns in Europe full of widows and orphans.

Yet few people realize that World War I was one of the greatest shapers of the 20th and 21st centuries. World War I ended the rule of the monarchs in Europe and ushered an era of democracy in nations where democracy had not yet taken root. In one major event and less than a decade, World War I ended the monarchies in Russia, Germany, Austria and Turkey (Ottoman Empire).

Of course, I cannot say that God was the principal author of all that carnage. But because it happened, we know that He allowed it to happen. On this earth, we live by a fine line drawn between what we are allowed to do using our free will and what the Almighty will allow us to do given that we want to obstruct or destroy His grand design.

Within our Philippine context, by confining our options to Arroyo and Estrada, who knows if the United Opposition is now playing the role of the Serbian fanatic who triggered World War I? Given the desperation of the times, who knows what the loss of hope will usher?

The bigger question that we must ask ourselves is whether we will all want to just sit at the sidelines and wait for events to overtake us.

  Previous Columns:

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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