A lapdog Republic

Even when things get tense, we Filipinos never forget to pause and laugh. Two jokes sent me by text, illustrates this:

It seems d trouble started wen Gen Miranda wanted 2 go 2 d bathroom to relieve himself. Adm Dimayuga thought he was voluntarily asking 2 b relieved of his command.

And (from a pro-Arroyo friend):

Kaming mga pro arroyo are now known as as JARJARHEADS: I, Jar Jar Binks, vote to give the Supreme Chancellor emergency powers to deal with the separatist crisis.

The tradition of Filipino political humor, as a Philippines Free Press article from 1986 points out, is a venerable one.

My column for today is A lapdog republic. I’d also like to point out the columns of two fellow Inquirer columnists, Conrado de Quiros, who says, bluntly, Mrs. Arroyo is now a dictator, and Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ., who tackles what are constitutionally-permitted (and contemplated) emergency situations.

Much of the punditocracy remains concerned with the President’s actions (and those of her opponents). The Inquirer editorial, which begins on page 1 of the paper, calls for resistance against media control. Indeed, media is quite vexed. Fel Maragay, who by no stretch of the imagination can be considered anti-administration, is worried by the lack of media guidelines. Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN points out similar problems with the government’s announced policy. And just in case you thought only the usual suspects are concerned about government’s actions, the International Herald Tribune points out foreign observers are concerned, too.

In the blogosphere, The Bunker Chronicle explains why there’s so much suspicion -the government itself remains muddled about the proper message to massage. Newsstand describes how the press is engaging in pushing back: and that includes papers people normally accused (or praised) of coddling the administration. Big mango points to the cause of an infinite crisis. Philippine Commentary produces mp3 recordings of Dong Puno’s discussion on the merits and demerits of Proclamation 1017. Apropos of the proclamation, Vincula gleefully points out a general’s perpetual Freudian slip. Cogito Ergo SAM noticed it, too. What fun.

and finally, an eloquent statement from the widow of Senator Jose W. Diokno:

Show Us Edsa

On July 2 last year, the Jose W. Diokno Foundation called on Mrs.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to step down from office. Today, on the 84th
birth anniversary of Pepe, we no longer address Mrs. Arroyo, who heeds
no one but herself and her coterie of advisers, and needs Proclamation
1017 to prop up her flagging government. We prefer to address our
people, whom Pepe so loved and with whom he struggled for a better

On the matter of leadership, we say: Out of 80 million Filipinos, Mrs.
Arroyo is not the best we can produce. She does not even come close to
the best. But Mrs. Arroyo’s display of arrogance is not what disturbs
us, though I must admit it is irksome. It is, rather, the implicit
assertion that we deserve her kind of leadership — for our people do
not — and that there is no alternative to her, when there are. Remember
that martial law lasted as long as it did in part because some
accepted the notion of a so-called ‘lesser evil’.

We who have asked Mrs. Arroyo to resign from office are often
criticized for being disunited. So let us examine the sources of our
disunity. Clearly there is an element of distrust, that some in the
political opposition are out for their own ends just as some among
organized groups are perceived to have their own agenda. Suppose we
accept this to be a fact of our present political life. Is it
nonetheless possible for us to come together on the basis of certain
principles? I believe it is.

For example, we all want our elections cleansed of corrupt election
officials, cheating and other corrupt practices. We desire an
electoral process and system that will bring out new, good leaders who
have a fair chance of winning.

We do not want the constitution changed at any and all cost, in the
manner that Mrs. Arroyo and Speaker de Venecia know best. They make no
effort at subtlety in their attempt to subvert elections and remain in
power in the name of constitutional change.

Most of all, we reject the social inequity that our political system
feeds on. Using the poverty of the people against the people is the
worst, most painful crime of all.

So what is to be done? First and most immediate, we must not surrender
our civil liberties. Sometimes I think that martial law was effective
because it didn’t hurt enough people; the dictatorship selected its
targets skillfully and then isolated these targets from the public
view. A false sense of comfort thus resulted. Let us not allow
ourselves to be fooled again. One act of suppression, if unopposed,
makes possible other acts of suppression.

Second, let us seriously work out the bases of our unity and agree
that we cannot have all that we want now. This is a difficult task — I
know how hard Pepe worked to bring the opposition together during
martial law. But try and try again we must.

In all this I ask that we think of our youth and consciously cultivate
young leaders. We widows and veterans of martial law have reached the
pre-departure area; our knees do not allow us to line the streets and
march in protest. This is not just a world we are about to leave, but
one we will bequeath to our children, grandchildren and, in my case,
great grandchildren. Listen to 17-year old Jose Miguel Bermudez, a
freshman studying in Las Pinas, who wrote in the Inquirer’s ‘Young
Blood’ column. “Everyday of my life,” he says, “my teachers and my
parents admonish me to shape up. I think it is now my generation’s
turn to tell my parents and those who run this country that it is time
for them to shape up. They are being selfish and myopic when they
complain about the inconvenience and disruption caused by people
protesting against lying, cheating and stealing. They would rather go
about their regular business even if that means leaving many
fundamental and moral issues unresolved.” Talking about how these
issues will haunt the next generation, Jose Miguel asks: “Guess who
will be left to deal with this ghost when it returns? Guess who will
be left to deal with the ugly litter of an irresponsible and apathetic
generation that would trade their children’s future for short-term
convenience?” (7 February 2006)

My own grandson, Jose Lorenzo — we call him Pepe for short, who was born
a little over a year after Edsa, wrote in yesterday’s Inquirer: “We
relegate Edsa to these four days, we remember Edsa only when we feel
the need to and we kill Edsa. It makes me angry that the revolution
to most of us has become a set of dates and actions that little
children memorize for Sibika. And I’m angry that most of what we’ve
read so far is about the events that transpired, and the generals and
politicians ‘who made Edsa happen’. Edsa is not about them. Edsa is
also more than the people who were there. It’s even more than the
leaders it ousted.” My other Pepe ends with a request: “I’d like to
ask a favor from you who were lucky enough to have felt the joy of
revolution. Don’t tell us about it. Show us Edsa. A lot of us don’t
even know what it looks like.”

So we who know, must show Edsa. But in this process of showing, I
advise our youth: do not be passive onlookers. Your job, like that of
my generation that is about to pass, is to constantly improve upon
what is shown and to never give up. This was Pepe’s dream of a nation
truly for our children, and it remains ours.

Carmen I. Diokno

La Salle Greenhills
26 February 2006

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

8 thoughts on “A lapdog Republic

  1. Long live Ka Pepe Diokno!

    Pointing out to his request to the youth, my generation, I truly wonder how many would answer the call, in particular, how many Lasallians would, considering that Ka Pepe is a graduate of De La Salle University. My generation’s apathy and indifference is not only a sickness, it’s sickening.

  2. The man who is just and resolute will not be moved from his settled purpose, either by the misdirected rage of his fellow citizens, or by the threats of an imperious tryant.

    — Horace

  3. MLQ3,

    Mrs Diokno’s speech is excellent!

    Re: Pangga Ravelo’s call to arms

    Don’t know but this Filipino non penchant ‘laban’ as in ‘fight’ the good fight, arms and all, may be due to the inherent Malay trait of apathy?

    Why? Coz while reading the speech and after reading Pangga’s call to arms, I was reminded of the Malay penchant to leave the fighting to the Chinese during the revolt in Malaya in the 50s.

    Yet, the Philippines counted fighters in its ranks that fought the Japanese invaders. So one can’t really say that they are not the fighting race.

    Even today the reason why the Bumiputra law remains in place in Malaya is because if they don’t limit the Chinese, the latter would overrun the economy with their own brand of capitalism and leave the Malay in the lurch.

    The British brought the Indians to Malaya to do the admin, the Chinese to toil in tin mines and in rubber plantations because the Malays couldn’t be relied upon to “fight” for their economic life.

    Almost sixty years after the Americans left, the Pinoys are is still rooted in the same place but their Chinese population have so vastly improved. Could the Malay blood have anything to do with this Pinoy immobility, not wanting to fight?

  4. a de brux, i’m not aware of any ‘inherent Malay trait’ of apathy. As you rightly point out, Filipinos have a historical track record when it comes to courage. Even now, we can point to the active duty AFP, MILF & NPA as proof of this. Aside from ‘fighters’, what we have a lot of are opportunists (i.e.the balimbings). Watch them come out of the woodwork when GMA is finally about to be overthrown. anyway, what may have been missing for many people until last Friday’s Proclamation 1017 is a clear sense of what we are up against. i do hope there is a lot of soul searching going on among men and women of conscience.

  5. “We must pity the poor wretched, timid soul who is too faint-hearted to resist his oppressors. He sings the song of the dammed: “I can’t fight back; I have too much to lose; I own too much property; I have worked too hard to get what I have; They will put me out of business if I resist; I might go to jail; I have my family to think about.” Such poor miserable creatures have misplaced values and are hiding their cowardice behind pretended family responsibility – blindly refusing to see that the most glorious legacy that one can bequeath to posterity is liberty; and that the only true security is liberty.” MARVIN COOLEY

  6. I found an old reader’s digest…re: the interview of Pres . Cory…

    and I found the words, Apathy and indifference mentioned there…and I too believe that those are the values removed from EDSA 1
    That is why I am raged that it was trivialized to a mere panic attack.

  7. Manolo,

    Thanks for posting Mrs. Diokno’s speech … truly a woman of substance.

    In his message to the Diplomatic Corps, Pope Benedict declared: “if you do not fear truth, you need not fear freedom.” It seems to me that a certain person fears both the truth, and the freedom to speak it. That, I think, is the real reason behind the infamous PP 1017.

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