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Jun 07

What we’ve learned: the National Democrats

Congress has approved the abolition of the death penalty. A battle is brewing over the national budget. There seems to be recruitment going on for Filipino mercenaries. Generals continue to defy the Senate. A military pact with Australia may possibly be inked. And there will be no official representative for the Poe family at the ceremony formally proclaiming the country’s new National Artists.

Education remains a burning topic in the puditocracy: the Inquirer editorial focuses on the regional nature of the crisis, as well as the need to encourage local initiatives. Incidentally, this commentary in the New Straits Times, a Malaysian points to debates quite similar to arguments taking place in educational circles here. Dan Mariano warns of an idiotized population. Mike Tan explains how problems are best approached through analyzing data on student skills. Nagsusulat Lamang blogs about a provincial school surmounting the challenges of the poverty-stricken present.

Taking stock of the crisis a year after it began: Amando Doronila (lately regaining his old fire) and Ellen Tordesillas (who has never lost her passion) weigh in. Edwin Lacierda blogs about his political journey over the same period. And there’s this meaty letter to the editor.

Ambeth Ocampo has a delightful essay on clashes in culinary attitudes.

Greg Macabenta writes on Filipino-Americans doing well for themselves. The Nation of Thailand dissects the latest political development -a top legal adviser of Thaksin quits. In the Arab News, commentary on one of the leading candidates to be France’s next president.

My Arab News column for this week is Why Most Filipinos Don’t Care That Leftists Are Being Killed. The conventional wisdom is that like virtually every other political force, the National Democrats are stuck in stalemate. Incapable of gaining power, but in a position to maintain a significant sphere of influence in some areas. The official solution is a frighteningly final one: to liquidate its leadership, not only in the hills, but anywhere else they can be found.

I am often critical of Rep. Crispin Beltran but it is absurd for him to be charged with a crime for which he was pardoned by President Aquino. It is also, frankly, absurd, that people remain indifferent to the ongoing killings of political activists and journalists. But it is explainable. Once explained, however, what then?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that while the known National Democratic leaders are either in detention, or have their behavior severely modified by having to make sure they remain safe, and while there doesn’t seem to be a massive shift of political support in their direction, they are achieving some gains. Primarily in the schools: recruitment is said to be doing well, and their school-based political organizations increasingly competitive.

Someone recently remarked to me, how quickly people have forgotten that when Joseph Estrada won in 1998, the wave of populism he rode to victory was so massive, it left the, uh, Left, stranded and practically finished, politically. They only regained their confidence and became politically relevant with Edsa Dos. Again, conventional wisdom is that they made up for the error of boycotting the 1986 Snap Elections by taking part in, and making them useful to, the Edsa Dos effort.

Since the present crisis began, it seemed possible for them to be at the forefront of the demolition of the old order. Except it proved more resilient than originally thought: and, while no one says it publicly, they also served to antagonize the rest of the opposition. Repeated efforts to cobble together some sort of basis for unity foundered -for many reasons, but among them must be included what was perceived to be an overly-aggressive attitude on the part of the National Democrats.

Other groups, then, have learned to be wary about efforts to unify that include the National Democrats at the table. The persecution being experienced by them has, ironically, helped opposition forces take tentative steps at cooperation. This does not justify the persecution: but again helps explain why people aren’t more upset than they should be.

Chi K’ang Tzü questioned Confucius on a point of government, saying: Ought not I to cut out off the lawless in order to establish law and order? What do you think? -Confucius replied: Sir, what need is there of the death penalty in your system of government? If you showed a sincere desire to be good, your people would likewise be good. The virtue of the prince is like unto wind; that of the people, like unto grass. For it is the nature of grass to bend when the wind blows upon it.

The Analects of Confucius, L. Giles translation.

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18 comments

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  1. anna de brux

    Hi MLQ3,

    Re Pres Cory’s pardon of Rep Beltran

    I’m no fan of Beltran either but why indeed is he being prersecuted for rebellion?

    This government should go after Ka Rosal instead. There’s a man who’s been waging an ARMED rebellion for decades and is ‘scot free’.

  2. anna de brux

    MLQ3,

    On the subject of France’s next president in Arab News:

    If Mr Kurdi asked me personally if Segolene Royal would be France’s next president, my answer would be a resounding “NO.”

    I agree totally with Mr Kurdi when he says “There is something glossy and opaque about her. Whenever I see her interviewed I am left a little bewildered, I can never tell quite what she thinks or believes. She is clearly shrewd and has a will of steel, but she puts out an air of serendipity, a way of almost pretending that she has no role in what is happening to her.”

    Ms Royal is a Johnny-come-lately in France’s presidential election equation. Undoubtedly, she’s a woman with a nerve of steel for having survived various internal Socialist Party upheavals in France.

    She’s been trying to project a Margaret Thatcher image in France but I don’t believe for a second that she has half the determination, the brains and the cunning of Dame Thatcher. It’s one thing to throw headline-hogging statements about abolishing the 35-hour work week which the Socialist Party, of which she is a bona fide member, instituted in France, or to send suburban trouble makers to army camps for discipline but it’s another thing to mean and implement them. Royal may admire Thatcher – even try to emulate her and borrow some of the great Tory leader’s ideas but she’ll never get anywhere near Thatcher.

    For one thing, Royal will never dare offend labor union bosses. Her political stand is heavily intertwined with left leaning labor unions! How can one expect her to be anywhere near Thatcher who didn’t kowtow to the whims of union bosses?

    Just as UK Labour Party’s Tony Blair is more conservative than the most conservative of the Tories and therefore so hypocritical, so is French Socialist Segolene Royal. We can’t have another hypocritical president in the likes of President Mitterand in France.

    Mind you, I’m happy to have her as a backbencher because she’s good at that sort of thing but as president of France? No way!

    Nicolas Sarkozy should be the next president.

  3. manuelbuencamino

    Any serious government would spare no effort to go after Ka Roger. But this government is different. It has embarked on a policy of encouraging legitimate the opposition to go underground. That way they can all be labeled terrorists and hunted down lie dogs . At the same time, such a policy thins the ranks of legitimae protests because, as we all know, some of the most effectibe providers of warm bodies to rallies are leftists. I mean, whether we like it or not and whether or not they have noble reasons for doing so , they are the ones who interactthe most with the most dissatisfied members of society .
    Ka Roger should be encouraged to lay down his arms and fight for his beliefs in Congress, just like Bayan Muna etal. But that would be inconvenient for a regime that is trying to justify its totalitarian tendencies by raising and creating all sorts of bogeys including an alliance between sworn enemies like the military and the communists.

  4. anna de brux

    According to an Inq news report, the House has just passed a bill to pay Marcos victims.

    I wonder whether Jose Ma Sison will get his share. Judge Real awarded him almost 1 million dollars in compensation for being a human rights victim under Marcos.

    Heheh!

  5. mong

    there may be perception that natdems are aggressive but in dealing with other political groups (especially this past year), natdems cannot be accused of being antagonistic. I blame the lingering anti-left bias, and the obstinacy of civil society groups to accommodate the radical Left in their activities as one reason why unity cannot be achieved at all times.

  6. The Bystander

    The self-righteousness of some of the anti-GMA middle forces is one of the reasons why unity among the broad opposition can’t be achieved. They think they are the only ones who have the right solutions for solving the country’s problems. They abhor the present “protectors” of the status quo but at the same time they will fight tooth and nail just to preserve whatever perks and advantages the status quo gives them. A classic example of this, I believe, is Cory Aquino and her family. While she is always at the forefront of the moral crusade against GMA and her evil lieutenants, I have yet to hear any word from her regarding the Hacienda Luisita controversy. Maybe the only remark she could have probably said was, “I have no control over it because I am not the one managing it” or “I leave it to our lawyers to settle the matter”. Why? Is there also not a moral dimension involved in giving back to the farmers what is rightfully theirs under the law? Why the selective application? While she hurriedly made her presence felt when Dinky was being arrested by the Baywalk police, I could hardly notice her silhouette in those places where Hacienda Luisita workers were being harrassed, threatened and even killed.

    They also have this mentality that being associated with leftists is like being afflicted with a contagious disease. That is why when leftists try to present solutions to the country’s probelems in pursuit of their advocacy, the self-righteous and hypocritical members of the elite and the middle class right then and there reject their ideas for being too radical, aggressive and devoid of any merit.

    I am definitely for Mrs. Arroyo’s ouster or resignation. No question about that. But I also would not want the same faces to take over the reigns of power once she is gone.

  7. karl garcia

    I had problems with the comment thread for the past two weeks..I was not able to greet MLQ3 on his birthday..

    On going after Ka Roger or Ka Roger laying down arms….
    With the movement so fragmented even if Ka Roger surrenders one faction would likely take over one way or the other…and if he runs and wins in congress nothing will happen he may be forgotten too.Look what happened to Honasan,what became of his ideals when he was in the senate…….
    We Filipinos have this tendency to forget the “laos “faster than anyone.

    By the way, well said the bystander!

  8. karl garcia

    Re: education
    I watched a delayed issue at Oprah where Bill Gates and some Nba stars are trying to save education in the almighty US…
    They too have a pathetic state there, even the public school in DC was a shame ….

    I think the gawad kalinga model can be applied to the education system, where there are different sponsors for different locations….The knowledge channel initiative was nice if only it did not give the idea that the teachers will do nothing but become a vcr operator or tv operator.

  9. karl garcia

    We are really losing productive people abroad. I have read that our farners are moving to Japan because of over industrialization and technology those who are twenty to forty have no knowledge of farming….

    I am waiting for Gloria’s spin to this …that she make it look like that it is a good thing for us!

  10. mlq3

    mong, you and i have been in some of the same meetings. i think a lot of good will was felt, and attempted, but the natdem style hasn’t fostered much good will. but then, that’s my perception. and to think you’re dealing with groups that aren’t instinctively anti-left, though of course many are firmly anti-cpp ideology.

    bsyander, self-righteous is as self-righteous does, there’s more than enough to go around, though of course those who can rely on a gun to settle the argument, i’d suggest, have a tendency to be more self-righteous than others.

    there are distinctions to be made between leftists, of course. personally, i find myself very sympathetic to the akbayan or institute of popular democracy types: they too, are being persecuted, but their situation is worst of all. their fellow leftists hate them, the government hates them, the rest don’t understand them.

  11. rude_boy_manila

    what i can’t figure out is why the leftists are getting mowed for allegedly attempting to overthrow gma’s government, but those from the traditional political elites such as saycon and peping cojuangco, who have both been implicated by nelly sindayen in time magazine for conspiring to overthrow gma as well (nelly sindayen has NOT, as far as i know, retracted implicating them) are running around with no consequences at all. is this because the traditional political elites regard the political arena as their turf – and so expect confrontation from one another – but if those from other classes attempt to invade that turf, then that attempt must be crushed by all possible means? what the hell is up with that?

  12. rude_boy_manila

    oops … open mouth, stick in foot. just wandered onto ellen tordesilla’s blog (thanks to the link above). nelly sindayen’s report in that time story was not credible pala. well … since my foot is in my mouth, why don’t i suck my big toe.

  13. ricelander

    Speaking of Cory, how does it feel kaya being thumbed down by the very woman she had helped install into office? Same thing with Ramos, same thing with Beltran and company…and civil society? I have no problem slugging it out with an enemy, but with someone who owes me a debt of gratitude? It must really cut deep deep down. Do I hear someone screaming “buti nga sa inyo!”
    Just kidding, really.

  14. joan

    baka hindi mo pa alam. may mahahabang comments tungkol sa sinulat mo.

    http://redscare.motime.com
    http://allecoallende.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/

  15. vic

    The very best way for the National Democratic leaders to overthrow the current govt. or to form the govt. themselves is to band together and build a strong party based on principles and ideologies of the left rather than on personalities and to renounce violence or arm struggle as one of its principles and contest it the Electoral Process. The two povinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (Canada) have been both run by New Democratic Party which is a Leftist party or in our term Socialist and both provinces have been returning New Democrats to the government time and time again. Maybe, just maybe that’s is what the country needs-The National Democratic Party at the helm. May finally direct the country to the right direction. But then again I might just be wishing..

  16. tonyo

    Vic, the Left has formed in 2001 (Bayan Muna) and 2003 (Anakpawis and Gabriela) three parties that campaigned for and won several seats in the House of Representatives. Their electoral victories were remarkable and untainted. Their representatives brought to Congress the advocacies of the Parliament of the Streets. Unfortunately, there are some malignant, anti-communist, anti-Left forces that propose that all these parties be extinguished through trumped-up rebellion cases (against the Batasan 6 or the duly-elected representatives) and the mass murder of their members and organizers. Even the kitchen sink is thrown their way.

    It is likewise sad that the Left has been mentioned somewhere here as a scapegoat for the immobility of other political forces. It is alleged that the Left is acting overzealously in the conduct of its activist work among other political forces. Hello!? Nothing could be farther from the truth, as we could glean from the acts of the revitalized Left especially since the Left helped propel the broad nationwide movement to oust Estrada. The Left knows it cannot oust presidents by its lonesome. So why in heaven’s name would they antagonize their prospective allies. The most probable culprit behind the “scapegoating” of the Left is the built-in, deep-seated anti-Left and anti-communist sentiments among the populace.

  17. cvj

    “The most probable culprit behind the “scapegoating” of the Left is the built-in, deep-seated anti-Left and anti-communist sentiments among the populace.” – tonyo

    I couldn’t agree with you more. This is probably justified back in the late 80’s but is inexcusable in light of events in the 90’s up to today.

  18. Virgilio

    Buon luogo piacevole senza qualsiasi cosa dispari, ben progettata!

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