More on People Power

Remembering “People Power I” last Tuesday, I quoted incisive articles written by Dr. Vicente Rafael, historian and professor, about that political event which attracted world attention.  Undoubtedly, his analysis in the context of present circumstances served to enlighten those who, like me, are disconcerted to tears. Here’s more of the good professor’s observations:

“In the Philippines, there is no “deep state” … just a weak state at the mercy of national and provincial elites, where corruption is less an aberration as a way of doing business, the common currency of power. There are of course honest, professional officials serious about the “public” in public service. But the system tends to marginalize them, burn them out. Duterte has sought to deal with corruption by using the most corrupt institution in the country– the police– and by allying himself with the most corrupt political family in the country, the Marcoses. The point is less to enrich himself (though we don’t know for sure) as to put their power at the service of his own.”

Prof. Rafael perceives vindictiveness in the persecution, arrest and imprisonment of Sen. Leila de Lima: “It is hard to find anything about us that is more sickening and depressing.  As we learn from Aristotle, the point is not so much whether we feel pain or pleasure, whether we find something blameworthy or praise worthy. For we all do that and experience both.

“What matters is that we are pained by what should rightly pain us, andderive pleasure from matters that are truly pleasurable, uplifting, even sublime.  What matters are we give praise to what truly deserves praise, and blame what truly deserves blame.  The difference lies in whether one lives a life of virtue or of vice.  Aristotle calls upon us to live virtuous, rather than vicious, lives.  It is up to us to choose which kind of life to live.” I am sure Prof. Rafael has not forgotten that Jose Rizal also told us to live virtuous lives.

Prof. Rafael does not mince words, he wrote:

“We could thus think of De Lima’s arrest as a kind of lynching where popular justice is administered by the DDS (Diehard Duterte Supporters), or more precisely, by their representatives.  As with any lynching, the crowd gathers (in this case on social media) cheering the hanging and disfigurement of the guilty. Some twisted, corrupt logic on full display today (last Friday): arrest de Lima on trumped-up drug charges while dropping the drug convictions of the biggest and admitted drug lords in prison to get them to testify against her.  Almost as perverse and evil as showing a fake porn video to slut-shame her into submission.  The cruelty, the stupidity, and the mendaciousness of it all are truly impressive.  And in the midst of the EDSA anniversary: why not?”

Indeed, how shocking that no less than the Secretary of Justice,Vitaliano Aguirre II, was asking the crowd at the pro-Duterte rally last Sunday whom they wanted to jail next. When that irresponsible statement was attacked by media the day after, the secretary of justice said he was merely joking because political rallies are meant to be entertaining.anyway.  How disgusting of him to goad Filipinos to turn themselves into a lynch mob. What a perverted sense of humor!

The 31th anniversary of EDSA, unlike its other celebrations, seemed to have regained the combative, anti-fascist, and pro-democracy elements of the original People Power I.  “Every group sells — or is trying to sell — its own interpretation of EDSA,” wrote activist writer Ninotchka Rosca on FB, “EDSA was a Zen moment — when the nation stood still. And paralyzed fascism. A singular moment of nationhood.” (