Friday, July 08, 2005

Awakening from Slumber

Rational Technology for July 10, 2005

Up until recently, I have always thought of myself as an apolitical person. It didn't really matter, I opined, as to who occupied the highest post in the land because things would more or less be the same: whoever sat in power, they would always find a way to raise one issue or another; whoever was president would bow to business interests, the real powers behind the country; whoever led the country would not really lead at all, but simply angled for a bigger share of the pie for himself (or herself). In a word: ennui.

So what did it matter to me that the wiretapped conversations swirled around as rumors and finally came out in the open? Another trick of the 'opposition'? A ploy to distract the people from the brewing storm that was Jueteng-gate? Perhaps, after all, it was an elaborate bit of fakery. Couldn't we have gone on with business as usual? No, it oughtn't have bothered me at all. Except that it did. Deeply. The tapes were the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

That there was cheating in the elections should not have come as a surprise. It's a fact that every Filipino knows (and sadly, that not too many of us did anything about--I am guilty in this regard). But until the tapes came out, this was a fact that was mostly couched in theory, with no clear admission or evidence to prove it either way. And now here is evidence clearly staring us in the face.

At the heart of it all, the Gloriagate scandal points to a violation of so many of the basic principles of decency and justice. In the first place, you have a woman who views the presidency as lost heritage reclaimed from her father, who views it as divine right conferred upon her by the Most High, who says that "The Lord put me here..." This arrogance might be forgivable if she were truly a woman of high virtue, yet the truth behind this power is simply an intricate web of shadowy dealings, of political accommodation, and ultimately, a sham and a lie.

There is not a shred of decency in this pursuit of power. Nothing is sacred: not a vote, not a person's principled stand, not a person's family. They plumbed the depths of depravity when they plotted one of the worst of crimes -- kidnapping -- in order to silence a potential witness. I shudder to think what other unspoken deeds may have transpired. Something is terribly wrong here, and no amount of legalistic chicanery can change that opinion.

What rankles further is the continued messianic delusion played out not only by the president but supported by some members of the business community that she is the only one capable enough to lead the country, that no other option is acceptable. Therefore, continued complicity with a corrupt presidency is the only available solution. That, above all else, the economy is supreme and all else expendible.

And that is just so very wrong. How many more crimes will be committed for the good of the economy? How long can we continue to look away from these crimes as we sit, fixated on our own bowls? How much longer till we ourselves become the grist for the mill of the gods of economic supremacy?

If we have come to this state of affairs, where the corrupt and incompetent ascend to power, where the government can run roughshod on people who voice out their opinions, it is because of apolitical people like me, who have been steeped so long in the drug of ennui. For too long, people like me have let others have the run of things, and here we see the result. We--you and I--are paying for these crimes now.

It's not true that the problem in this country is that there are too many people involved politics; the problem is that there is so few. It's time to awake from slumber. It's time to let our voices be heard.

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