Friday, February 24, 2006

On Middle Force Extinction

Mr. Quezon's blog post on Middle Forces Faces Extinction is an excellent summarization of the middle force position.

our people haven't learned that the prosperity that we want comes at a price. not an edsa revolution. not outsting a dictator--- those are mere precursors to the fact that democracy and prosperity must be worked at. we give it our very best labor and we never can finish it because just like perfection, it is an ideal that can never be reached, only strived at. that was our people's first mistake. one can not blame mrs. aquino for her time, i think. it must have been hell for her. i think it was the best the could be managed.

Mr. Quezon is right, in saying that the middle forces squandered an opportunity. many of those in power merely amassed wealth, and our people paid the price. they didn't take responsibility for the opportunity to change a nation. i'm not saying that those on top were dirty--- i'm saying that the entire structure merely sought to put their own personal interests first. perhaps it is because we don't pay our officials elected or otherwise enough--- that service to government is just that, a free service. and because our people just want government to be supergovernment and solve every bit of whats wrong in their lives. we raised expectations and unrealistic at that. and when government failed to deliver on those promises, we rebel.

the middle forces face extinction because it failed to move on from marcos. court cases lost to marcos. and though one might say that the sins of the father are not the sins of the children, those old wounds still surface everytime marcos' children are interviewed, everytime there is something wrong in the country, his name is evoked. we never moved forward, beyond his time and his shadow haunts us to this day. victims of martial law have not tasted victory and correct me if i'm wrong neither the closure of loss in court. just one huge limbo. did he or didn't he commit those crimes? we may never know. yet in those years, he could have been tried and the government of mrs. aquino would have won by just saying so. missed opportunity.

why did estrada become president? the simple answer was ramos and aquino where of the same camp. they were though cory was never part of a party when she was president, was painted on the same canvas. ramos was good for his time and mr. quezon is right in that for all his faults, ramos enjoys today the success of his presidency which none of those middle forces had something to do with. after him, people wanted different. estrada was no idiot. no one who had his political experience could be the idiot he painted himself to be. he was a political operator from his days at mayor, then senator, then vice president. people like all bosses want results and people still think, the promise of edsa fell far short of their expectations. so they essentially fired the old guard and sought a new one.

then edsa 2 happened. it was a coup--- people forced estrada out and the military was a party to that. estrada had a lot of faults most people both loved and hated. he had many women--- which is frowned upon but secretly cheered because he was Filipino just like the rest of us. Estrada, drank a lot, which a lot of Filipinos rich and poor does. Estrada was the ideal filipino hero and people just wanted to believe he could wieve magic. Erap for all his faults represents the Filipino. he won with a clear mandate. thats where the middle forces lost touch.

the middle class--- the middle forces are a righteous bunch. we believe in morality, like all good catholics. we believe in justice in the old conservative way. we also believe to use a bit of power to sway one rule towards our side every so often because we know this or that guy. righteousness.

the middle class of the united states is the source of their prosperity. and ours is the source of our missery. we took matters into our own hands because we were outraged. yet with a mandate so clearly won, estrada would never give up without a fight. sure he was thrown out. sure he was locked away. what edsa 2, what the middle forces and the civil society did was further divide a country. what better evidence that the election that took place right after? half for pro-arroyo, half for estrada's ilk.

what was it they say about the road paved with good intentions? i guess it doesn't mix well with our own personal agendas.

2004. the middle forces made another mistake. like all leaders, staying in power is a good thing. you need that kind of confidence to command authority. mrs. arroyo wears that better than cory. almost as good as ramos.

but this is what would happen had fpj won: the civil society would loose face, civil unrest would follow because arroyo, civil society would not stop, would never yield power and admit defeat to a clear proxy of estrada. an fpj victory would be equal to saying edsa2 was a huge mistake and greater unrest would follow from the get go as foreign governments and businesses would hesitate to do business here.

it was war--- a shadow war fought in the backrooms and corridors of power. it is something middle forces are familiar with as they arrange for this and that deal to be made. garci was the ultimate death star, ok may be grand moff tarkin--- admiral of the fleet and all that, the ultimate go to guy. the hallmark of our democracy is patronage and corruption wins. want to sell, find the money, lobby for it, and sell it. the middle class for all our righteousness made this possible. thats our society.

we've been over this many times in previous posts, fpj lost that campaign simply because arroyo's camp had many things going for them. a) they had the full backing of the government, b) they had good generals, c) they knew how to run a campaign because they lost to estrada and fought with the idea gloria is the better candidate because she knows how to run things as opposed to a first timer of dubious ability backed by weaklings. fpj lost because his people a) didn't really know how to fight as they split with lacson's party, b) they had little resources, c) they clearly had no platform of government.

if indeed garci is true, why did arroyo had to cheat? simply because she needed stability. a victory by a margin of 100k votes or less would mean street protests at the onset. people already deeply divided between her camp and fpj would slug it out in the streets--- contesting every vote. a 1 million vote victory was a safe margin. we all breathed a sigh of relief when she won--- as long as it wasn't fpj who did. don't deny it. i know many who did and i didn't even vote for pgma. what was it again about the road paved with good intentions?

the easiest way and least likely scenario was: pgma would have step down in 2004, not run for election. that fpj would have been wiser enough to not run for public office. in that respect it would have been an election that was clean slate. that was the ideal scenario. but everyone had a bone to pick--- erap needed to prove he was ousted incorrectly that a victory by fpj was a victroy for that mandate. and pgma needed to give legitimacy to her borrowed presidency.

all throughout the past 20 years we also saw deals being made in the backroom of power. some by the powerful business tycoons. some by other lobbiest. many greased the palm of officials--- elected or otherwise to win their contracts. Church, business--- every Filipino is a party to this crime. in short, all this is bad karma.

and now we are here.

our institutions are a mess because no one trusts them--- not the police, not the military, not the judicary, not the president, and especially not congress. all are factions vying for control and power.

and as i'm writing this, troop movements have the media in a frenzy. Reports, sketchy as to who what where and why. whether it was a failed attempt remains to be seen.

Mr. Quezon rightly says that any change must walk away from violence. We all recognize the danger of our situation. We must not let a civil war or a bloody insurrection win over. our people are hungry. thirty percent of our population are in poverty. our economy is held together by our workers' foreign remittance and not by domestic manufacturing, agriculture or services. yet at the same time, no one has done a peaceful transformation, that--- all the powers that be had gone through a crucible. even the Vatican has. perhaps it is the way of all things to go through a change.

you see someone has to take power. If the middle forces choose not to, someone else will. If the moderating faction, chooses to walk away then someone else will take over. Hitler was elected in a democracy and people cheered him when he took office. People let him. It becomes the responsibility of those who can not to give up trying. or someone else will.

If change need be happen, Mr. Quezon is right, do it in the proper context. show people that leadership begins by strengthening institutions. If the middle forces believe that the past, the system of government is flawed, then show people whats right. do not be hindered because this constitution is a product of EDSA. if it doesn't meet the future, admit it and change it. offer a counter proposal to the changes PGMA and her ilk are proposing. But don't point fingers. Offer sensible, doable, executable matters. be different from Arroyo and her ilk. Because for all the good that she is, Mrs. Arroyo represents a way of doing things. Form a sensible party of platform and run for public office as a team, and bring good people into office and take care of them so they don't have to cheat and steal.

Leadership begins not by following the people. The people don't know, can never construe the difficulties, the intricacies of command, of vision, of wielding power. They have a will--- they want economic stability. they don't know how to get there. Thats why people vote in elections, that their will be done. Leaders lead.

It doesn't matter whether the middle forces have failed in the past 20 years. it doesn't matter that in 20 years that the promise of edsa remains a dream. be different, be sensible and above all execute. Middle Forces need not face extinction, it just needs to transform itself and take the game to the next level.

The Filipino is waiting.