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Feb 02

Squeezed out

The basic lesson of the emerging senate campaign is, the middle (read: the middle class) does not count, politically. Neither the administration (ritual displays of independent thinking to the contrary notwithstanding) nor the opposition has shown any signs of accommodating the Center in its slates, how they were put together, or how they will campaign.

There’s lip service, of course: the dynasty issue is being fanned by Palace propagandists, but shrugged off by the opposition leadership, which knows the issue won’t catch fire with the non middle class voters; the Center is shrill about actors but its bluff has been called by the Palace, which knows for every middle class vote it loses, it gains many more by running the likes of Richard Gomez. Read Jove Francisco to see what I mean. Besides which, the President has perfected retail wheeling and dealing.

The Center has served its purposes for the Palace, it now reaps what it sowed in sticking by her side. It simply has to keep cultivating the Stockholm syndrome that’s served it so well, to keep the Center a prisoner of its own biases. It’s slap and tickle, but in the end all for show. If hearing the new Defense Secretary frankly state a reversal of course for the armed forces doesn’t trouble you, I don’t know what will. Even his appointment, as the Inquirer editorial points out, is troubling.

Two years ago I said, the Center must hold. It didn’t – instead, it’s shriveled up, politically, while the New People’s Army (see the Time cover story, The Philippines’ Unending Guerrilla War), for example, has grown and by some accounts, reached its pre-1986 strength once more; it’s once more on the offensive, militarily, and even morally, as a persecuted minority. So the middle is not a not a player in the coming elections, and on the periphery, the radical option regains ground. Political extinction in three years is quite a feat -as is military resurrection.

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  1. cvj

    …only you put forth the premise of “..the vote of one class to serve as a proxy for the vote of the other”. – UPn Student

    In that case, don’t mind me. I probably misunderstood what you’re driving at so it would appear that i’m only arguing with myself.

    …And we’re back to why “many in the outside world” look unkindly at military-coups and people-power-driven changes in government leadership. Illustratively, the problem with people-power is that the interests of Boholanos (Zamboanguenos, Cebuanos, Ilocanos, others) are not counted at all… – UPn Student

    When it comes to coups, we are in agreement. People power, however, is something else. Just like elections, people power is an exercise in democracy. What it may lack in franchise (i.e. equitable representation across all sectors), it makes up for in authenticity. When people power or any other type of mass action kicks in, there is always an element of you snooze, you lose.

    It is not perfect, and as EDSA Dos has shown, it can be subverted, but it’s a necessary step along the way to genuine democracy, i.e. the rule of all by all.

  2. Jeg

    People power is premised on the belief that there is a higher law and that this higher law is ingrained in all of us–that we have been endowed with certain inalienable rights, for example. When Metro Manilans decide to stage people power (since the seat of power is here) they do so as representatives of all Filipinos who are all under the higher law. If the rest of the country doesnt join in, then you have a problem. Either the sense of higher law has eroded, or the rest of the country isnt convinced that the higher law has been violated.

  3. cvj

    If the rest of the country doesnt join in, then you have a problem. Either the sense of higher law has eroded, or the rest of the country isnt convinced that the higher law has been violated. – Jeg

    I agree with you on that. In addition, i think that another symptom of the higher law being violated is if the opposing forces decide to mount their own people power, which is exactly what happened when EDSA Dos was shortly followed by the even bigger EDSA Tres. Unfortunately, the EDSA Dos crowd took things the wrong way.

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