Philippines Free Press Editorial
September 3, 1988
Wanted: A Respectable Opposition
THE late Pres. Manuel L. Quezon expressed a preference for “a government run like hell by Filipinos” to “one run like heaven by Americans.” The government run by Americans was hardly heavenly, what with its colonial economy keeping the country a producer of cheap raw material for export and a market for highly-priced imported goods, and the Filipino people in their place as “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” The Army and Navy Club with the sign: “Dogs and Filipinos not allowed.” And a cultural brainwashing that left the Filipino with one dream: to be an imitation American.
If the American-run government was not celestial, the Filipino-run was sure hellish or at least purgatorial. Democracy being the only saving grace, for allowing the Filipinos to kick out their Presidents and representatives and kick in the next hungry pack that turned out no better. Hungry mosquitos replacing over-fed ones, in the words of the late Manila mayor, Arsenio H. Lacson.
Then came the Hungriest Mosquito. He did not suck some blood from the Filipino body, he drained it dry. That left it fit only for burial.
The Aquino regime is, surely, not devilish, like its immediate antecedent although beneficiaries of that dispensation would equate its venalities with theirs to justify their loot and be able to look at themselves in the mirror. A walang hiya feels respectable if others are walang hiya, too. It’s emotional protective coloration. Bugs go for it.
Just the same, the Aquino administration faces the challenge of a million signatures being gathered—pleading for an end to the corruption generally perceived as rampant in the government.
Reform, if the government does not clean up the filth, will come peacefully or violently. Peaceful change will come with take-over of the government by the non-violent opposition. Change of officials—but change of government from corrupt to honest? From bad to better? Look at the challengers—the legal challengers—of the Aquino presidency. And don’t throw up. Who among them would make a better President? Come on, name one—and no kidding. But is Corazon C. Aquino the only one among 58 million Filipinos capable of being President—if not good enough, at least better than any other possible replacement? So, name a better one.
Wanted, indeed: a respectable opposition!
There is an opposition that is not respectable, being illegal, but certainly formidable. Led by men of unquestionable dedication to their cause, ready to die for it. Tigers, not hyenas scavenging among the remains of a routing Republic.
If they win—
To concentration camps for leaders of government, business, churches, landlords—and the rest of the Establishment. And the independent press that did not play footsie with the Communists—like “nationalists” or “cause-oriented” and the rest of that United Front Act. Press prostitutes will be mouthing the Communist line as they did the Marcos fascist one. They’ll be safe. If you can’t lick’em—lick ‘em! That’s the classic collaborationist line. Like in the War.
As for the more or less anonymous believers in individual rights as against collective ones, where else can they go if they would breathe without effort?
To the boats—a la the Vietnamese refugees we have given temporary haven to as the United States has done. But how many such Filipinos can the United States accommodate? It lost its war in Vietnam and tried to make up for that mistake—by letting in Vietnamese refugees into its economy. How many Filipino boat-people can get into the U.S.A.?
So, it’s muddle through under the Aquino regime—and stumble into the Communist pit? Would that be so awful a fate? A Filipino Catholic priest, after visiting Communist China during the Cultural Revolution and seeing how things were really there, not as reported by the Western press, said of the system:
“Christianity without Christ.”
(Christ drove the thieves out of the temple.)
We’ll deserve our fate.
“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power, to corrupt absolutely.”
Hence, the need for a respectable opposition. The legal opposition now is hardly respectable. Who believes that it will replace the Aquino administration with a better one that will be less venal, inept, corrupt? On the other hand, the Communist opposition would establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which would hardly be a democratic one as we understand democracy. So we are left with two alternatives to the Cory regime: one composed of questionable political characters, and the other of upright but fearsome ones.
A choice between hyenas and tigers, indeed!
We need not take any of these alternatives if Cory would be the President we all hoped and believed she would be.