We are all guided by the law of inertia. An object at rest remains at rest, an object in motion remains in motion unless or until an outside force acts on it. This is as true with physics as with the trajectories of our lives, as with politics, as with history. I was thinking this after a young person asked me a question: “Why is Pres. Rodrigo Duterte doing what he is doing if not for the good of all?”
Surely at his age, he has all the power he needs. And as for wealth, what does he hope to accomplish with that, given the shortness of life in general and how many short years he has left? You cannot live forever. You cannot take it with you, right? Let us presume then that he wants to leave a lasting legacy. My late lawyer uncle would have said at this point: “Be that as it may … ”
There is one primordial theme that plays in our minds whenever we think of our country, and then ask these questions: How can we solve our problems? What should we do? The answer in the time of Marcos was: “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” Discipline is what we need, this theory goes. And I remember how everyone agreed with him on this issue. Who could argue with that premise when chaos is all about us? Nobody obeys the law really. We only seem to as we live by that old dictum that might as well have been the eleventh commandment: And if you do any or all of the preceding; then, Thou shalt not get caught.
A strong and powerful government is what we need. A strong and powerful man should lead us, some sort of a hero, an emperor, possibly, to put us all in our proper places so we all obey the law, behave properly and pay our taxes correctly. The collective trajectory of our nation, our historical inertia moves us to dream this way: And so the recurring nightmare of martial law, impending and ominous like a dark shadow in our collective future. Quite unfortunately, every experiment we ever had with dictatorship led only to a disaster. The last time around, our leader and his cronies stole everything they could lay their hands on and made their fortunes for generations to come. Equally unfortunately, most of these fortunes came from World Bank loans that we and our grandchildren will still be paying for, for generations to come. And this is perhaps the dream that Pres. Duterte wants to foist on us. To save us from ourselves. And yes, quite a number of people would believe him. For the dream does seem immediately quite so logical, especially as old haciendero logic.
There is a historical context behind this dream, which must be mentioned here. This is not a new dream. Even in Spanish colonial times, the dream of the Great Authoritarian was already there. There were only a few Spanish here. The greater part of the population were native Indios. For the most part, they were poor uneducated farmers easily swayed into revolt by hateful rhetorics of dissatisfaction, mixed with alcohol, and drugs. How do we keep the natives in check? How do we keep them well-behaved and obedient? We would have to apply force, right?
And of course, a few, perhaps a few thousand – say 13,000 – must be used as examples for the others. Throw them in jail! Or have them killed off! It is inevitable. There is no other way, right?
What’s that, you say? Human rights? Punyeta! Whose human rights?—-
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