FEATURE | The Face of Philippine Politics: Great or Greater Evil?

The hierarchy of social status in the Philippines, wherein rich people become richer and the poor die from starvation and deprivation from opportunities due to the rooted semi-colonial and semi-feudal system, is the very reason as to why there is still exploitation and injustices. And from this can be derived the justification of most aspiring politicians to run for a position–to use the desperation of the Filipino people for a change, for something that can slightly appease their hunger and alleviate their sufferings from poverty.

Several aspiring politicians had promised to eliminate hunger and provide for the Filipino, even using agrarian reform and eliminating corruption in bureaucracy as their political platforms to curry favor with Filipinos. Several regimes had passed–nothing. These politicians only served their pockets, their wickedness, everything but the people. Forgetting the fact that their power came from the masses–those who are being oppressed, silenced and abused. Why must a country made up of resilient but exploited farmers, patient but underpaid laborers, and fearless but oppressed media, be governed by some elected officials who are either formally charged with plunder, a former TV host, a boxer, or even a dancer? What a political circus. Even using the substitution rule which is clearly a legal remedy as their tactic to ensure that the regime of Duterte-Marcos will stay in position. The very people who are blatantly lying to the Filipinos saying that they want to serve the people. If killing innocent people down the street, letting Filipinos suffer for almost 2 years of lockdown due to their overflowing incompetence is called serving. Then there is a special place in hell for these people.

Politics is everywhere and that is a fact. Every system that has rules and laws, represents the very idea of politics. But it does not end there. Politics can be seen through the eyes of millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs especially in these crucial times of pandemic which forced healthcare workers to work for almost the whole day despite being underpaid. Politics also reflects every single decision made by people seated in a position that mirrors the status quo. Those people who possess guns tucked in their torsos, landlords who are destroying not only the environment but also the home of the indigenous people, the large capitalists businesses who overwork their employees without proper benefits–these are the people who enable injustices and gave birth to the mass mobilization.                   

The Philippines, from being occupied by foreign colonizers for hundreds of years, up until now is heavily influenced by a neoliberal system that affects the Filipinos’ minds and contributes to the overwhelming validation of the Western country—which ultimately overrides the culture and innate beauty of the Philippines. The so-called liberation is just a scheme to fool the masses that they are free, little did they know that the tight grasp of colonization and neoliberalism can be felt on their neck. Years had passed but the remnants of the agenda of the imperialist US to control us remains. Seen through the economic sector, how the Filipino farmers are slowly witnessing their livelihood die because of the ambitions of the leaders to industrialize the country. Inherent with this are the importation of every food being served on the table, leaving the peasants begging for the people to buy their goods for a lower price. The greed of the United States is evident, to take advantage of most third world countries and inflict the neoliberal system that is the root of economic dependence of the Philippines and the lack of knowledge of most Filipinos.

This kind of history combined with the sickening status quo, we all can agree that the Filipinos deserve the best. Leaders that are honest and transparent to their people, a government that will pay the highest respect to human rights, empower the different sectors including the peasants and laborers, will prioritize the need for peace talks, and agrarian reforms. Well, if you can take a look at the Philippines now—covered in blood by Tokhang victims, increasing rates of desaparecidos, and the statistics showcasing how corrupt the current administration is, justifies as to why there is a need for progressive movement of the masses.

Because all we got is this:

“If I become the president, it would be bloody,” Duterte once said. Wherein most of his blinded supporters clapped and cheered for him. A scene that if one will visually imagine, it is chilling and disturbing. Imagine a group of people who are fooled with this statement thinking that addicts and drug lords will be jailed and a peaceful Philippines will surface, but no. Instead, the Filipinos only got their hopes crashed and were forced to watch a scenery full of dead bodies of either ‘nanlaban’ victims, judges and attorneys, or even journalists being flashed on their television.

The Filipinos got a president who killed more than the death toll of late dictator Marcos, who did not just refuse to close the borders when pandemic began but also  donated medical tools and equipment to China, the very country who continuously disrespected our claim for the West Philippine Sea instead of prioritizing our own pandemic response. A President who made rape jokes, catcalled the Vice President, and all in all a total misogynist. This is the current situation of the political system in the Philippines. A total joke and misery.

This is what the Filipinos settled with because they lack the education, a proper education that will teach them that they have the upper hand, that with revolution, they can start the change and establish a socialist system that they deserve. The education that has been kept and labelled as taboo because of the neoliberal system that is being taught to the youth.

                  Now, the election period is around the corner and despite the alarming rate of COVID-19 victims, yet the aspiring candidates for the upcoming election are unwavering—they are shameless. How they continuously rant about how they can change up the system and how they explain their platforms and goals for the Philippines if ever elected in position all while failing to actually do something during their term is just a blatant spit to the face of the Filipino people who are continuously struggling. Not only the billboards of Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto can be seen as you enter NLEX but also the face of Isko Moreno being flashed left and right with media advertisements. All of the embarrassing propaganda of most candidates is showing how desperate they are–how they are tightly clamoring for the power to lead. To lead for the better? Or for the dirty? We’ll never know but it will be most likely for the latter.

                  The son of dictator who tolerates mass murder and torture as well as continuously faking his credentials, still refuses to own up and apologize to the victims of martial law, the ones who are tortured, disappeared, and murdered. Bongbong Marcos, who is running for presidency, but did nothing but revise the history, remain arrogant, and deceive the masses that he is the best candidate just because his father made a so-called legacy of infrastructures. But the other part of the legacy is the billion debt and mass murder.

Duterte, a fascist and a murderer, who is aiming for vice-presidency, did nothing but be a misogynist and lie to his people and is responsible for war on dissent and war on drugs. Targets the media with his unfair and personal bias, intensifies his authoritarian leadership, puppet of China, and refuses to acknowledge human rights.

Will the 2022 election pursue without the father and son drama of these two Duterte? Sara, who can be seen crying while hugging her constituents before withdrawing her candidacy as a mayor in Davao is really a familiar scenario. Maybe, stating that there would be two aspiring political candidates coming from the family of Duterte is enough to describe the political circus in the Philippines.

While Pacquiao, homophobic and boxer turned politician who never contributed anything significant to the senate but only relies on his political advisers when there is a senate session and also the top absentee, enabler of the status quo, does not have any independent stance in regards to political issues such as extrajudicial killings, and seems unaware of the seperation of church and state as he is continuously basing his remarks and perspectives on the Bible.

And of course we have the current elected Vice President Leni, who won through the sympathy of the people, lied as someone will run on as an independent candidate but is still affiliating herself to the yellow slate—to the same party who pushed the voters to elect Duterte in palace. The overwhelming support of the Filipinos for her, just like the previous liberal administration, who turned out nothing but an elitist and a killer of not only the livelihoods of the farmers, but the farmers themselves. Too early as it may seem but Robredo has shown her colors by retracting her stand of abolishing NTF-ALCAC, a state agency that outrightly violates political and human rights, and by courting the support of AFP, an apparatus notorious of bombing and strafing indigenous people. A two-face candidate is dangerous because their agenda could never be predicted unless seated in position, and power on one hand.

People are now doubtful whether to support her in winning people’s campaign or if elected, they would be killed by a reactionary state clothed in pink persona.  

And you think Ka Leody de Guzman is the most ideal candidate among the rest? Who aims to “forward a comprehensive agenda not just for regime change but also systematic change”? His platforms and slate may be promising especially to the laborers, but it must be remembered that a pro-socialist political candidate will never be placed in position especially in a state that is responsible for the status quo. It will take a whole lot of actions to abolish a capitalist state and eliminate exploitation when talking about the economic sector. Also, just think of a socialist president who bows to the AFP-PNP if ever won the election, it will be a circus indeed.

Those are the options of the Filipinos as of the moment. All incompetent, all was regarded for doing the bare minimum.

                  May 9, 2022 is the clash between the ruling class, the day that will reveal the stance of the Filipinos, who they will choose as the leader for the whole term of six years.  Six years for a presidential term is long enough, long enough to be a victim of either dictatorship, human rights violation, or a proper government that is for the people. May 9 is the day that the Filipinos must arouse, organize, and mobilize voters—because every shade in the ballot is responsible for change, only we will never know if it is for the better. But the proclamation of the President and other elected officials does not equate to the mass passing the baton of power to these country leaders, instead this is the evidence that shows that the power comes from the people, the starting point where the shouts and demands begin. Because in a country wherein there is oppression and abuse of power, there will always be a call for revolution.

Report by Pauline Estrada
Illustration by Jessica Tiamzon

Published by The Catalyst

Opisyal na pahayagang pang mag-aaral ng Politeknikong Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (PUP) na 34 taon nang nagsisilbi para sa interes ng mga estudyante at mamamayan.

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