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.