Our worst enemy is indifference

The late president Corazon Aquino; presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo

The FilAm Editorial

When Corazon Aquino was swept to the presidency in 1986, many Filipinos rejoiced in her triumph. Then they checked out. They left her to deal with a myriad of problems, such as the recovery of the Marcos millions, repelling obstructionist politicos like Ponce Enrile and Laurel, and keeping at bay the serial putschists who nearly wrecked the country. When she left, the country was loosened from its democratic moorings.  How could we elect coup plotter Honasan to the Senate? The courage, unity and conscientiousness we demonstrated in Edsa ended after Edsa.

Today, 36 years after our much-heralded “peaceful people power,” the Marcoses whom we, as a nation, have spewed like phlegm are trying to win back power.  We are now faced with the real possibility that the dictator’s son, Bongbong, a good-for-nothing senator who has burnished his education credentials with a fake Oxford diploma, could become president.

How did we come to this point?

Over the years, we voted and packed our Legislature with movie stars and their children, athletes and their children, inexperienced children of politicians, people with criminal record, their spouses, etc. Our fondness for seemingly charismatic “non-politicians” have led us to the foul-mouthed and uncouth Rodrigo Roa Duterte. His “shoot-and-kill” anti-drug campaign gave us a death toll of anywhere from 5,000 (government) to 12,000 (human rights groups) drug suspects summarily murdered.

We allowed all this to happen. We did not take our elections seriously. We loved the fiesta part of it but not the hard work that follows.  We rewarded with our votes celebrities and political dynasties who mesmerized us with entertainment. We did not choose wisely people who are incorruptible, competent, who uphold the values of their faith and their country, and have the Filipinos’ interests at heart.  Instead, we took the feeble way out: “Ah, all politicians are the same.”

No, they’re not!

With the Marcoses back, yucking it up, and calling for “unity,” it’s like throwing the money they stole back into our faces.  

Typically, a dictator’s son remains in exile living the life of a free-spending playboy. Bongbong, we thought, must be raising a normal family in quiet reflection and atonement. Alas, he came home with scores to settle and moneys to recover. His unfinished business is motivating his run for the presidency.

Never mind that he has lied about his school credentials and cares little about his gutless avoidance of political debates. He sees May 9 as a battle that can be won by money. We see it as a battle for a government that is decent and accountable to its people.

This is our umpteenth chance at redeeming the vision of our heroes in 1986 and our heroes before then. We should go into next month’s polls with the clear idea that the fight for a democracy is a never-ending cause.  Let us make Leni Robredo president, and after doing that keep her in our thoughts and our aspirations for a better government. Let’s hold her to the ideals she promised in the campaign. There will be political foes determined to take her down. She will stumble, err in some decisions. Her Cabinet could face corruption charges, false or not.  But one thing about this woman: She will do what’s right because the country deserves no less.

© The FilAm 2022

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