Writing the LABAN final chapter
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-02-24
The 1986 episode of LABAN (Lakas ng Bayan or People Power) is more than just the ouster of a dictatorship and the restoration of freedom and democracy in our country. There is far greater historical significance of LABAN which many Filipinos may have failed to recognize.

Up to that moment in our history when we ousted the Marcos dictatorship with sheer unity and numbers - Filipinos have usually been order takers, if not from local leaders and elite then from colonizers. Even during our experience with democracy during the 20th century and up to that point when a US sponsored Marcos dictatorship was imposed, we Filipinos danced to the tune of both our national and local elites, many of them US lackeys.

The political patronage system is the Philippine oligarch’s mechanism for keeping peons perpetually dependent on them. It allows them to control and operate the levers of political and economic power. In fact, martial law can be considered the ultimate demonstration of patronage politics in Philippine history. The old oligarchy was merely replaced with Marcos cronies and the top military officers were corrupted to dance to tune of the dictator. It was during the martial law regime when military generals were able to reside in the most expensive private subdivisions like the Corinthian Gardens. Nowadays, they buy expensive houses overseas to conceal their loot.

The 1986 LABAN was the one chapter in our history when we the people and not our political leaders decided the fate of our country. It was also most providential that the 1986 LABAN was led by Cory C. Aquino, an odd-man-out in Philippine politics. Like France’s Joan of Arc to whom she is often compared, Cory Aquino didn’t come from the traditional mill which produced our past leaders. She was the first to be chosen sans any previous experience in public administration and at a time when Filipinos have not yet elected a woman president.

What the 1986 LABAN seeded in the Filipino mind was the magnificent realization that we can do great things ourselves. People Power was again utilized in 2001 to evict another president, this time for plunder. Last year, Filipinos again resorted to People Power remedies — as what my good friend Conrad de Quiros called “another EDSA masquerading as an election.”

Now with a president whom we can trust, it’s high time that we Filipinos utilize People Power to attain our nation’s ultimate goal. With a LABAN president in place, we should now wage People Power against the more deeply rooted and bigger problems of our country.

We need to wage the LABAN against poverty. Our goal should be to convert each and every Filipino into a productive member of society, gainfully employed or thriving as an entrepreneur and contributing taxes. If our LABAN can manage to raise that bottom 30 percent of impoverished Filipinos to the level of the socio-economic class D - then we’ll be on our way to prosperity and we can thus eliminate the many conflicts that plague our land.

We need to wage the LABAN against our damaged culture. We must eliminate our colonial mentality, our crab mentality, our pwede na yan (that will do) mentality and our fiesta mentality. We need to internalize new values that will strengthen us as Filipinos and weld us together as a Filipino nation. We need to wage the LABAN against our culture of corruption. We need to wage the LABAN against the Information, Education and Opportunity Gaps that create our big Wealth Gap.

We cannot survive the challenges of our times when we are the first to welcome exploiting foreign powers, when we are the biggest destroyers of other successful Filipinos, when we persist in producing sub-standard or mediocre products that will not sell and when we do not value the virtue of austerity as the building block to the making of a successful business enterprise.

Few Filipinos realize that our country is now in the middle of a major theatre of conflict between the two most powerful nations today — the US and China. They are both attracted to our natural resources and strategic location. Both the US and its allies and China have set their sights on securing the energy deposit in the South China Sea — believed to equal the second biggest oil reserve in the world. In a world fast running out of fossil fuel sources, we will be ground zero in a conflict between the US and China.

If we’re not strong enough like the Vietnamese who successfully repelled French and American domination, we’ll suffer the fate of backward nations that were trampled over like blades of grass by the march of a powerful nation. Powerful nations like the US and China will take what they can from us if we leave our flanks unprotected.

These powerful nations don’t even have to send a major military expedition here to subjugate us. They can easily employ Quislings in our midst, the very same types who gladly served them in the past and stabbed our country in the back.

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