Who is stopping the Filipino?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-03-09
If this had been some other country with a functional democracy, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s (GMA) distrust rating of 76 percent (versus a 6 percent trust rating) would have forced a change of government. This change would have taken a legal peaceful course where the ruler immediately recognizes the loss of confidence and resigns.

Here, this change does not happen. An impotent Opposition, rather than Filipino apathy, is more to blame for this. The Opposition cannot even get their act together to bring forth a credible leader that would inspire hope for meaningful change.

The recent Pulse Asia survey showing most of the more prominent Senators sliding in popularity rating underscores the fact that the public is dissatisfied with the Opposition as well.

Normally, when the satisfaction ratings of GMA and her husband Mike Arroyo dip, Opposition personalities would register a rise in rating. But this had not been the case. What the situation suggests is that we have a nation that sees no relief from both sides.

Somehow, the return of convicted former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada to public prominence has turned off the upper and middle classes from playing their role as movers of events and reforms. Who can blame them for feeling that way?

Under GMA, we are seeing the signs of massive and wide scale plunder, repression and a tendency towards autocracy. However, GMA can still take cover beneath a perceived thriving economy, although the so-called growth isn’t felt by those who need it most.

Under Estrada, there was also plunder and a fast deteriorating economy, made worse by falling investor confidence and unscrupulous cronies who manipulated the stock market.

The political paralysis underscores the bankruptcy of Philippine politics. In marketing, these leader-types will be permanently shelved and indexed under the category of “irrelevant phased out products.” In other words, the issue has gone beyond seeking a brand alternative because consumers no longer want the product.

Such was the case of the solid lard Purico that had been replaced forever by liquid vegetable oil and the analog Mobiline cellular phone which had now become a museum piece.

The problem is not only a GMA versus Estrada equation. Indeed, there are other alternatives to GMA and Estrada. However, these alternatives are not seen as desired products that will service the needs of the times. They are seen more as the same defective and inadequate leaders who have brought our nation down to the pits.

In truth, what we have is not a democracy but an oligopoly, the rule of the oligarchs. The break-up of this oligopoly had long been overdue, but unfortunately these oligarchs have the gold and they get to dictate national policy. They are the core of the 3 percent who control about 85 percent of the national wealth.

To a great extent, Filipinos accepted the imposition of martial law in 1972 because they had hoped that there will be structural change. Alas, Marcos merely replaced the old oligarchs with his own and together they practiced crony capitalism.

The old oligarchs made their comeback after Marcos was deposed.

The 1986 People Power event succeeded in removing a dictator but not in restoring a true democracy. This is not meant to diminish the immense contributions of Cory Aquino at all.

Cory did her part and sincerely wanted to introduce reforms. Her many non-politician appointees as local government Officers-in-Charge and her choice of cabinet members reflected her preference for new leaders to replace the traditional politicians. After the first post-Marcos congressional and local government elections, I recall seeing very few politicians in the Cory Cabinet.

The great tragedy of People Power is that many avowed reformers who did not come from a political family and managed to get appointed or elected into powerful positions eventually metamorphosed into the very same traditional politicians we were trying to phase out.

Today, many who fought the Marcos dictatorship feel that GMA is even worse than Marcos. Many Filipinos today feel that there is worse corruption now than during the Marcos dictatorship. Businessmen then talked about the “ten percenters” ‑ indicating a 10 percent standard kickback. The kickbacks being exposed these days amount to much more than 20 percent.

If you were a businessman then and paid the right person on top, you’d likely get things done. Now businessmen complain about every clearance step in the bureaucracy being a virtual toll gate.

Among those who can vividly recall how we were scandalized by the actuations of then First Lady Imelda Marcos, go ask them how they compare the First Gentleman (FG) with the former First Lady. If the recent rating of the FG in the SWS survey is to be a guide, I believe that Imelda Marcos will be better rated.

For sure, the country cannot go on under this uncertain drift. This is a situation that opens itself to radical changes like a Right or Left wing takeover. It is not an outcome to be wished.

Stopping the Filipino from evolving the kind of leadership that will truly usher the desired reforms is none other than the Filipino himself. Filipinos must shed their “can’t do” mentality, their self imposed barriers.

Given bright, honest candidates who are not beholden to oligarchs, we don’t support them and merely shrug off them off as born losers. We fail to realize that it is precisely our mentality that makes our country a loser.

Filipinos will remain a pitiful lot unless we rise above our dysfunctional mindset and values that find satisfaction with lesser evils. We need to be in tune with our true history so that we’ll know what really made us this poor, disunited and exploited.

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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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