Monday, February 25, 2008

Not people power

The mainstream media is making a lot of fuss over the seemingly overarching intent of the people to oust Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from power through people power.

It is not to be blamed for this. The blame should be on those who salivate in making it to the six o’clock news and the headlines of the next day’s newspapers, and who wittingly use 15 minutes of fame to fan the flames of tension, to foment chaos, and to rally support for their cause.

But who are the people and do they really urgently desire to do another people power skit?

The people are only a front. They exist, they are real, but although they are aware of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s evil empire and of her lying, thieving, and murdering band, they are not in a rush to lay siege to Malacanang. They seem to be in no mood to join what to them is already a familiar game. They suspect, and rightly so, that they have seen this before and knew of the dire consequences, of the dismal results of such a political act. Particularly to them.

The people are the ordinary Filipinos. The Juan dela Cruzes who without fail daily go to the farms and factories for fear that they will go hungry the next day.

They are the teachers who, against their will, are forced by the State into election duties only to cheat.

They are the marginal fishermen, the construction laborers, the cleaners, and the market and ambulant vendors who are taxed to death by the ingenuous methods of government.

They are the underpaid government employees who cringe under the abuses of their officials, but because of economic insecurity, are forced to bear their sufferance in silence.

They are the upright soldiers and police officers who choose to get out of the chain-of-command because remaining there will infect them with the corruption of their superiors.

They are the drivers who are mulcted daily by the corrupt cops.

They are the OFWs bled dry of their hard-earned money by the vulture banks and remittance companies, by the illegal recruiters, and by an insensitive government.

They are the child laborers, the unemployed and unschooled youth, and the women who rush to walk their children to school because they have to hurry back soon to do the house chores.

These are the people, but they are powerless in influencing the outcome of political events, contrary to conventional wisdom. They only become powerful because the usual suspects imbue them with power at their convenience and for selfish motives. They have power, it is true, and they recognize this, but this they don’t easily tap and exercise. Thus, it is in this context that I say there is no such thing as people power in the truest sense of the word. The so-called EDSA people power was mob power, aided by military and police power—and anger at being so blatantly helpless to use real people power.

And the usual suspects?

They are not different from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her ilk. They are the most vociferous of the lot.

They are the traditional politicians who are meek as lambs during election, but who become thick-skinned as crocodiles when they are in power.

They are the bishops and priests and nuns—the so-called arbiters of morality—who secretly accept State donations from gambling.

They are the retired top bureaucrats who do not worry as to their next meal, because they have skimmed off fat commissions when they were still in the State’s employ.

They are the regular militants who see every issue and event in this country as a cause for yet another street march, and the communists who see armed revolution as the only way to gain power, but in the process scheming how to screw the people when they get a chance at governing.

And of course, there are among them the hangers-on, the carpet baggers, the discontents, and the scum of society who exude holier-than-thou attitudes but whose character and behavior are as abominable as those of the current Malacanang occupant.

All these, including the capitalists who cannot obtain contracts or favors from the present dispensation, are in the crowd on-stage, waving flags and banners and shouting slogans when the TV cameras are on and when the press is shoving their microphones and tape recorders for a sound byte.

They are in a conspiracy to get Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s head, as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is in a conspiracy with her subalterns to screw them—and the people.

Again, the people. So many crimes have been committed on their name and against them that one wonders what our country would be like without the people consenting on their being used as pawns in the abominable game of political power play.

The people have been used in the so-called EDSA revolutions. What did they get in return? A free press? But they don’t have earth-shaking sound bytes to deliver.

The right to vote? Maybe. But as Philippine election goes, the people don’t really vote in the strictest concept of democracy, another abused ideology by both the opposition and the administration. They are paid to vote, and on occasions they are not paid, their votes are regarded as stray, usually not counted, or often miscounted.

The opportunity for a better life? The people came to EDSA once, twice, thrice, yes. But they came to EDSA hungry, ill, naked and dispossessed. After three EDSAs, until now, they are still—perhaps more—hungry, ill, naked and dispossessed. After EDSA, a majority of the people are still jobless. They have no clean water. They can’t send their children to school. No healthcare. No houses. No land. No voice. Powerless.

Yet, the usual suspects that herded them to EDSA are the ones strutting like peacocks, wielding the levers of power of life and death over the people. And amassing enormous wealth, never mind if these are ill-gotten. This is the most unsettling and insulting of all.

And so, the national situation has come to this, when those who benefited from the so-called people power revolutions are now so afraid of their own kind, their own ghosts, actually--the usual suspects who were marginalized and unable to obtain power for themselves.

It’s a me-versus-you game, an administration versus the opposition power play, with the administration resorting to cheating, lying, and thieving to hold on mightily to power, and the opposition exhorting the people—yes, the people—to side with it so it can grab power for itself. Alone.

It’s never the game of the people, us, who are back to our silent suffering and unspeakable woe.

Again, as in previous upheavals, it has come to a stalemate, a painful wait-and-see scenario where everyone is eagerly watching if the people will succumb to yet another temptation of playing a marginal and surrogate role in the conflict of their selfish masters.

Chances are they will not, we will not, and I’m willing to bet my one year’s supply of gin that, absent a genuine people’s revolution, a national cleansing akin to a civil war, lead by one of us and from us, the oppression and abuse of the people—who are many—in the hands of the usual suspects—who are so few—will continue unabated.

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