More often than not we, the people, are mere objects and not really the subjects of the development process that is Philippine history-in-the-making. We are not sufficiently aware of what is real in our society; we are inadequately organized as various sectors and geographic communities and we are unable to mobilize ourselves. We almost always feel helpless.
We recognize the feeling of passing from crisis to crisis in one form or another. The result is we can no longer trust anyone or anything: not our economic institutions which place us under the tyranny of dehumanizing poverty. Even more do we mistrust another key institution – our political system – with a mistrust that goes a long way back.
Because of our poverty, we are vulnerable to becoming victims and cooperators in vote-buying, a common electoral practice. We presume, in fact, that elections are not honest. We only get a little bit more shocked with the revelation of new forms of dishonesty. The “dagdag-bawas” tactics “of old” were already worse than vote-buying. They were election-results buying or coercing. In the former, many voters “benefited” but in the latter only election officials did.
Quite a few have not easily forgotten the 2004 election of “Hello, Garci” fame. It came to an end with the majority running roughshod over the minority at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal on account of the latter’s demand for the opening of ballot boxes which the former claimed would be in violation of the law and due process. To many of us the refusal of the majority to accede to the demand of the minority was proof enough of cheating. Fear of the truth is a uniquely strong proof. But we felt helpless and sad because, frankly, we began to realize, too, that so many of us could have cared less, even then.
That crisis which was characterized by a battle of tapes had led to a barrage of information and outpouring of emotions that left us the people victims of high-powered propaganda bombardment resulting in more confusion and mistrust and social chaos. Many of us hypocritically feigned disgust at GMA’s unethical behavior when what we really despised was her violation of the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt neither confess nor get caught in the act.”
Today the electoral crisis is beyond ordinary people’s understanding and, consequently, beneath our ordinary care and concern. The “dagdag-bawas” has become digital, electronic and automated. In 2004 and 2013 we the people were allowed to vote without knowing where our votes went. We the people were made to believe and trust without necessarily liking the unholy trinity of god the Smartmatic- Comelec, god the deceitful Pollster, and god the powerful Media. True, elections remained essentially a money game. But the maldistribution worsened. Ordinary voters got less and less while god the powerful Media drank up the billions upon billions of free-flowing money of sacrifice. This was called post-Edsa freedom with its “mock” deeply embedded in the very idea of deMOCKracy.
In the year 2014 a solid scientific-moral consensus was reached by the country’s math societies, computer societies, bishops, pastors and priests regarding how the election system of 2010 and 2013 were nothing but a glorified cheating machine. They concluded that 2016 should NOT be allowed to follow suit. But to date all indications are that it may. The battles in the Supreme Court are rather slow in inciting us the people to effective action.
Thus reports are rife that amidst the seeming apathy of the so-called majority of us, there are tenacious, active minorities – dedicated and smart — actively seeking a way to mobilize the deeper power of the people by extra-legal constitutional means. This would not be necessarily immoral IF we the sovereign Filipino people would in fact be supportive of such moves. But are we really? Would we be?
After two Edsas we should already have succeeded in institutionalizing people power through a parliamentary form of government. We should already have allowed ourselves by now a system for changing our governments, when needed, without having to wait too long for the next election and without having to have recourse to suicidal, foot-shooting, investment-scaring methods of protest and alternative building.
We realize of course that we are a fiesta people. We tend to be celebratory at all times even to the point of being anarchic. Resorting to people power when we no longer want an incumbent government is a combined form of protest and celebration better, in the view of some, than waiting for another expensive election which, often being years away, only gives our competitor countries an incredible chance to leave us far behind.
Isn’t it time (again) to try for a form of government of our own kind, hewing closer, perhaps, to the parliamentary and the federal way? It may mean “one government following another” but, under such form of government, the State can be strong and people-sensitive. And the elected representatives will find it easier to group themselves together according to the various interests they truly represent. For we may indeed be one nation but we are really diverse. Wouldn’t we prefer genuine political parties and coalitions based on social interests instead of mere personality-driven groupings?
The present crisis is indeed a fortunate one if it leads to a third manifestation of people power and a consequent truly revolutionary transition government of the national transformation type – a government of greater seriousness in stamping out corruption, the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom. It is fortunate – “felix culpa” [happy fault]– if (as an example) such a government goes all out in the transformation of the coconut industry, our nation’s natural competitive advantage, and in the assertion of national sovereignty in the mining industry, as well as in the construction of more needed infrastructure according to the peculiar suitability of various localities and the exigencies of national agencies and our place in the world.
Meantime, the Tweedledums and Tweedeledees can fight it out while we the people stand back amused, looking more intently at the puppet-masters and not merely at the puppets for show. If we “follow the money” we will know the identity of the puppet masters who are the “real candidates” in any electoral exercise of oligarchic democracy, such as ours is.
We should boycott their priority agenda items and think out our own social reform agenda which our revolutionary government of national transformation can later embrace while we make sure now that we get better organized, more aware of what really is happening in our land, and less lazy to mobilize ourselves to use our institutions for our own good and that of the larger community as a whole. In the current crisis of course the top institutions are the moral institutions and the armed forces.
No one is blameless in the present crisis, including us, ordinary people. Yes, in the end we do get the government we deserve. It is time to commit ourselves now to our genuine self-transformation through self-education and self-organization into authentic communities that truly care for each other. This may mean rejecting “quick fixes” that cater to selfish political agenda and advantage rather than the common good. If we develop the habit of paying attention, we may yet agree that we could be, in the words of our moral leaders, “witnesses to the power of God’s grace to transform us into a noble nation, a holier church, a united people.”