Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Crystallize and polarize toward change

Lest anyone forgets, last Friday, May 1, was the eighth anniversary of Edsa Tres, by far, the only genuine political expression of the Filipino masses in recent history. It was a protest of “the great unwashed,” real victims of the ruling class’ massive economic exploitation, against the prevailing oligarchic neo-colonial system comprising Big Business, the conservative Church, the corrupt political order, as well as, the prostituted police-military hierarchy. It was, by sheer number, their stinging rebuke against this US-controlled elite’s illegal overthrow of our overwhelmingly elected leader, President Joseph Estrada, whose only great “fault” was his repudiation of the elite’s demands of sovereign guarantees for privatized projects, adopting separatist doctrines (like federalism and “appeasement”), and prioritizing debt payments above all else. 

Issues of corruption, murder, and mayhem were all hurled against Estrada--from illegal gambling payoffs to stock market manipulation, to Mindanao genocide, economic incompetence, and even political tyranny. Yet eight years on, under the aegis of those plotters and conspirators, corruption has reached unprecedented heights, illegal gambling has tripled, summary executions have multiplied, debt service has leapfrogged over social spending (versus Estrada’s reversal of this 20-year trend), and the national economy is in shambles. 

Worse, exploitation by corporate predators has grown more intense under the Arroyo regime. For instance, as soon as Meralco was taken over by two more conglomerates, continuous hikes for the highest power cost in Asia were immediately institutionalized through a new “performance based” formula that increases profit to well over 20 percent from what started out at 8 percent decades ago. Our water rates, also among the highest in the world, are constantly on the rise too. Meanwhile, the state’s cheap hydro-electric and geothermal power plants are being apportioned to the Lopezes and Aboitizes while deteriorating and costly fossil fuel plants are left to the publicly-owned National Power Corp., dooming it to charge higher rates in the long run. 

Nine years ago in 2000, during the last full year of Estrada as president, Muslim secessionists and criminal gangs were already almost wiped off the Mindanao map. Last year, in stark contrast, the Philippines almost lost half of Mindanao to the US and secessionist elements, which the Arroyo government had consented to with other Edsa II originals like the National Democratic Front--a goal which is still in effect through efforts to convert the republic into a federal state and to remove the Constitution’s protectionist provisions, with or without Gloria. 

However, after countless rallies and demonstrations, four major military protests (Oakwood, Ft. Bonifacio Stand-off, and Manila Pen), innumerable political and financial scandals (“Hello Garci,” Road Users’ Tax and PhilHealth diversions, Joc-joc Fertilizer Fund scam, ZTE, Northrail, etc.), serious deterioration in the poverty and hunger problems, the nosedive in government approval ratings, and major “mea culpas” from various Edsa II purveyors, Gloria Arroyo is still in MalacaƱang, with the last touted hope of a “withdrawal of support” going kaput over new sinecures and other charades. 

It seems the delay in the final triumph over this corrupt regime only comes from the muddle-headedness inflicted on the Filipino people by a combination of factors--the lack of a moral and patriotic fervor among the neo-colonial elite that is passed down to every level of society, US control of the Philippine Military Academy’s training, an educational system de-nationalized by Catholic and other religious educational institutions, the economy’s de-industrialization and marginalization of the nationalistic business sector, the co-optation of the intelligentsia and establishment of a canine-loyal “civil society,” and the domination by Big Business of mass media, among a long list of maladies. 

Thankfully, the real gain in the past eight years is that all the above have begun to unravel. The neo-colonial elite has been exposed for its rapacious greed for profits from the privatization of public utilities, and weakened by successive infighting over these feeding frenzies. The financial elite has been discredited by the failure of many pre-needs funds while the Catholic Church has been seriously damaged by the failed promises of Edsa II that there is now as much as a 30-percent fallout rate among its flock. Most of all, and perhaps serendipitously, we are now witnessing the collapse of the US as the sole superpower which will gradually free the Philippines from its clutches. 

The greatest task of genuine leaders for change then is to sharpen the real issues, by crystallizing ideas and polarizing opinions on economic emancipation from the global and local oligarchy, on seeking solidarity with the people’s aspirations, on the need to put nationalism and anti-imperialism hand-in-hand with anti-corruption advocacies, and on supporting true leaders like Estrada, Gen. Danny Lim, Sen. Trillanes, et al. as against opportunist-charlatans from various political persuasions. As we establish new alliances with domestic and international forces, we must realize that all who are enemies of US and western imperialism are friends to our cause of national emancipation. Only after taking stock of issues in this light will we ever get to see the end of the US-Gloria era soon. 

No comments: