POSTSCRIPT / March 25, 2018 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Palm Sunday: How fickle we voters are

TODAY, Palm Sunday, reminds us of the fickleness of us mortal men – how in a week’s time, the cheers of the crowd welcoming the King of Kings to Jerusalem turned to the jeers of the mob crying for his crucifixion.

Filipinos are familiar with the liturgy and lessons of Palm Sunday, the exultant scenario that segued quickly to the painful path leading to death on the cross on Good Friday.

Sliding to the political plane, we wonder how many of the 16 million who gave Mayor Rodrigo Duterte a plurality in the 2016 elections to clinch the presidency and are now witnessing his fumbling will be with the mob that will later shout “out with him”?

And how many of Duterte’s followers will keep faith, following him through the via cruci still the dawn of a glorious Easter Sunday?

Our guess is that a substantial part of the 16 million will stick with him, considering the pervasive effects of administration propaganda, laced with fake news, without effective counter effort from the opposition.

There is no organized opposition that can credibly check and call out the administration. There are some scattered figures busy with his/her individual fighting — but Duterte’s political foes still do not have a central rallying figure.

Much of the check and balance, by way of criticisms in mass media (where else?), comes from concerned citizens speaking out on their own and not as part of an organized and focused resistance.

While the opposition has neither identifiable leader(s) nor a concerted communication plan, the well-oiled Duterte machine continues to harass and prosecute its perceived foes and critics, keeping them off-balanced defending themselves.

 Admin’s fumbles: Disaster ahead?

THE ONLY way the opposition can have a fighting chance — first in the 2019 midterm elections and later in the 2022 presidential showdown — is if the Duterte camp continues to fumble and if scattered disenchantment spreads and coagulates into one resounding people’s protest.

The fumbles are glaring: Selective prosecution of opposition figures while favored offenders are left off the hook; relentless drive to weaken independent constitutional agencies standing in the way; ignoring of the stench, not just a whiff, of corruption; failure to stabilize prices in relation to wages… read the news for the rest.

If the administration fails to shape up, the unrest among the youth and the millennials could develop into something akin to a mass uprising reminiscent of the 1986 People Power Revolt that sent the dictator Marcos scampering to US-managed exile in Hawaii.

In this scenario, the role of the armed forces – to whom the Constitution has assigned the job of protector of the people and of the state – is crucial. It remains to be seen if Duterte has succeeded in “buying” its loyalty with material benefits and promises.

The political lore hereabouts is that military intervention – also known as a coup – is feasible only with the assistance of foreign power(s). This is textbook foreign meddling, but colonial-minded Filipinos can tolerate it when their oppression becomes unbearable.

The demonstrated ineptness and perfidy of the Duterte administration (witness its reneging on its campaign promises and its continued disregard of human rights and common decency), can fuel and facilitate opposition or resistance.

A metaphor is that of a house of light materials having been infested with termites or anay. The structure has been so weakened that constant shaking alone may be enough to cause its collapse. In time, a badly infested house will fall on its own.

If and when we come to that political Biyernes Santo, where will the exultant Domingo de Ramos welcoming crowd be? Where will you be?

 Satur a journalist, not a terrorist

SATUR C. Ocampo, who the administration has included in a list of alleged terrorists, can very well speak for himself, but as a long-time colleague who knows him that well, I feel compelled to add my small voice to the objections to the reckless tagging.

Satur is a fellow PhilSTAR op-ed columnist. He happens to be also a member of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) based at the Clark Freeport. Unless a journalist’s writings are enough to terrorize this administration, Satur cannot be a terrorist.

I had worked professionally with him in the pre-martial law Manila Times – he was assistant business editor and I was political reporter covering the Senate. Martial law in 1972 forced him and other journalists known for their progressive ideas to go underground.

I’m familiar with Satur’s thinking and know of some of his activities and links. He is not a member of the New People’s Army or the Communist Party of the Philippines. We his friends were outraged with what we learned about the inhuman torture he had to endure after his capture.

More of his own discussion of his petition to the court to order his delisting can be read in his column yesterday in this op-ed section.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 25, 2018)

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