November 25, 2005

Political ennui

The wonders of technology can be a curse. With “texting”, bad news seems to fly fast and thick, now more than ever. How many times in the past 11 months have we been enraged and saddened by news of yet another political killing, another abduction, another grisly massacre by military or police forces.

It has gotten so bad that people seem to be inured to the spate of killings and other human rights violations. To some extent the propaganda line of government that the victims are so-called terrorists, criminals or rebels serve to blunt the outrage. For activists, rather than be paralyzed into fear and inaction, many try to take such terrible news in stride.

For here you are trying to oust a god-awful president, who is turning out to be much more scheming, with no moral compunction whatsoever, than any “trapo” one has had the displeasure of dealing with in the last twenty years since the Dictator Marcos was overthrown.

There you are trying to fight the latest man-made disasters afflicting the country such as the E-vat, run-away oil prices and the spiraling cost of living amid a general decline in the peso purchasing power and the wage-freeze policy of government.

Then there are the loftier issues one just can’t refuse to take up such as national sovereignty, patrimony and dignity, in light of treasonous government actions like the Venable lobby contract, the handling of the gang-rape case against six US soldiers, etc.

On top of these, one has to rush to investigate the latest atrocity; lend succor to the most recent human rights victims and their families; condemn the perpetrators and the masterminds alike and call for an impartial investigation and swift punishment, knowing fully well that is unlikely to happen.

All the while, one watches one’s back. One learns to be on the look out for motorcycle-riding assassins and suspicious-looking characters lurking outside the home and office.
We wonder who’s next in the government’s hit list but we try not to be distracted.

Upon hearing of the recent massacre of unarmed farmers in Palo, Leyte by elements of the army’s 19th IB many have been moved to ask: Why is it taking so long to oust GMA? What happened to “people power” and why are the disgruntled military forces taking such a long time to make their move?

The impatience is palpable and understandable. However it must be recalled that the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship took 13 long and arduous years of struggle, including three years of intense and massive demonstrations sparked by Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, the agitation and mobilization set off by the “snap elections” and the armed struggle ablaze in the countryside that sapped the military strength as well as the political viability of the regime.

On the other hand, the ouster of Joseph “Erap” Estrada was relatively quick, what with the extreme isolation of his administration and the formidable array of right, middle and left political forces that united, with the foremost objective of bringing about his downfall. Indeed it was a precipitous fall for a president whose initial popularity with the masses seemed to make him invincible. Too bad EDSA II merely ushered in the oppressive Arroyo presidency and not much else.

Short of a revolutionary upheaval where the existing political, economic and social system is turned upside down and the democratic classes and sectors gain control of government, it will still require the mass mobilization of hundreds of thousands of the people capped by the withdrawal of support by the military to effect the removal of the current tenant in Malacañang.

No amount of wishful thinking and press releases – such as the ineffectual ultimatums of the Black and White Movement (that brings together the “civil society” groups under the umbrella of the notorious CODE-NGO, big business such as the Ayala corporation and the Makati Business Club and personalities such as Cory Aquino, all formerly under the umbrella of KOMPIL II) and the grandstanding of the Coalition for National Salvation/Christians for National Unity that recently held a so-called “Malolos Congress” – will bring about the removal of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

On the other hand, the preoccupation with and pining for a “quick solution” via the adventurism of anti-GMA groups in the military is fraught with danger and is ultimately counterproductive. There is a tendency to yield the initiative and eventually the leadership of the anti-GMA broad alliance to military officers who, no matter how anti-GMA, still have a long way to go to shed their fascist and anti-people orientation and practice.

We can no longer merely wait for a spontaneous “people power” that relies heavily on the sheer drawing power of charismatic figures like the late Cardinal Sin, Cory Aquino and the great nationalists and democrats like Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno and Chino Roces. Unfortunately there is no such overarching, uniting figure at present.

Thus there is no substitute for honest to goodness education and information campaigns among the people, both the basic sectors and the middle forces, on the reasons why Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo must step down and how the people can make this happen.

Anti-GMA groups and personalities must go deep among their respective constituencies to raise their political awareness and prepare them for the uphill struggle against the ruthless, cunning and murderous Arroyo regime.

Progressive groups that are the objects of anti-Left prejudice whipped up by the reactionaries in and out of power, must overcome these initial disadvantages and reach out to the broadest and most numerous sections of the populace through widespread organizing efforts.

Not surprisingly, it is the Arroyo regime and its paid hacks and opportunist political allies that are resorting to the most cynical and most immoral arguments to justify the continued existence of the illegitimate Arroyo presidency.

The quest for truth, a just society and a morally upright, pro-Filipino and pro-people government must be the unswerving raison d’etre of the broad alliance that seeks
to do away with the rotten Arroyo regime and put in its stead a transition government that can initiate the meaningful political and socioeconomic reforms our people demand.

25-26 Nov. 2005


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