Vicious political cycle

Published by rudy Date posted on April 18, 2011

Less than a year after the last elections, partisan politics uniquely practiced in the Philippines, is rearing its ugly head again. This is the kind of politics that seeks to advance or protect personal or group interests at the expense of the truth or the common good by the “systematic organization of hatreds” as Henry Adams called it. In this kind of politics, those who are called to account for their past misdeeds while in power, defend themselves not with facts to disprove the accusations but with offensive moves against the accuser in the belief that “offense is the best defense”. Here, the offenders convince the public that the charges are false by merely denying them and ascribing sinister motives, like political vendetta, to their accusers.

So far, this tactic seems to be successful as shown by how the Marcos family and cronies have been considerably successful in repulsing government efforts to recover their ill gotten wealth, and moves to pin them down for past wrongdoings. In fact most of them are now in power again not only in politics but also in business, barely 25 years after the people power revolution toppled the Marcos regime.

Taking a cue from the Marcos experience, the allies of former President, now Pampanga Congresswoman, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) belligerently announced that they have decided to “go on the offensive” against the Aquino Administration. One of the staunchest supporters of the past regime, Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez who shouldered the expenses of the GMA entourage’s scandalously lavish dinner in Washington, said that “this retaliatory move was prompted by the filing last week of a tax evasion case against Arroyo’s eldest son, Party-list Representative Mikey Arroyo. Suarez expressed his apprehension that this administration has ordered a “witch-hunt against us, that they will charge us one after the other until they finish us all off”. So he cockily said that “we have to fight back”.

Apparently GMA and her allies are so cocksure because they know that Filipinos have short memories and are slow to learn their lessons well enough. Hence this kind of politics has already become a vicious cycle. Actually, GMA herself has already fired the opening salvo that would perpetuate this harmful political practice by breaking her silence and speaking out on PNoy’s handling of the various crises including the Luneta hostage taking tragedy and the “spiraling prices of food and fuel”. She already warned PNoy of an alleged “leadership vacuum”.

To be sure, a golden opportunity came up to stop this cycle when another people power revolution was successfully launched leading to the ouster of Joseph Estrada and GMA’s assumption to the Presidency. Even as Estrada voluntarily stepped down from office by leaving the seat of power via the Pasig River, he was still prosecuted and subsequently convicted of the crime of plunder. After 5 years of trial, Estrada was sentenced to life imprisonment indicating some sort of political will and grit. But because of the many anomalies and scandals plaguing GMA’s administration, she had also become vulnerable to political attacks and political pressure especially from the opposition and the Estrada camp. Hence she pardoned Estrada, an act which many believed was some sort of political accommodation to the opposition. And so this cycle of vicious politics continued. Estrada even ran for, and almost won as President in the last elections in an attempt to regain power.

This is the bitchy kind of politics that GMA and her allies would now like to perpetrate in our country with their latest “saber rattling” moves against the Aquino administration. This is the kind of politics described by French Poet, Paul Valery as the “art of preventing people from taking part in the affairs which properly concern them”. Will PNoy succumb to this kind of politics?

If PNoy would just be true to his pronouncement that “kayo (the people) ang boss ko”, he has a chance to stop this vicious political cycle. He must first of all ensure that appointments in various government positions, particularly in the cabinet, are not primarily based on partisan political considerations or on close personal relationship or friendship (barkada). Of course it is his privilege to choose people he can trust and rely on especially in crucial or highly confidential matters; nevertheless he must see to it that his appointees are men and women of integrity, intelligence and independence, and most of all will not betray the public trust inherent in every public office. The country needs statesmen not traditional politicians.

In other words PNoy must adhere to the real meaning of politics which is the “science of (good) government, the art or practice of (properly) administering public affairs”. He must not render himself vulnerable to the attacks of the opposition who are out to perpetrate the vicious politics plaguing our country for so long now. He should not provide them ammunitions for attacking him and his administration.

But since the political opposition that dismally lost in the last election is starting to flex its muscles again, it means that PNoy and his administration are not really invulnerable to their frontal attacks. It is just fortunate that at this early stage of his administration, the disgraced opposition has not regained its credibility or acquired moral ascendancy to attack his administration. PNoy still has time to fortify his position. He should remove all the “vulnerable” spots in his administration.

The best way however to stop this vicious political cycle is for all public officers to be accountable to the people. In other words, if any of them is called upon to account for the past actions, like in the case of Mikey Arroyo, or Joc Joc Bolante or Cito Lorenzo, they should meet the accusations frontally by proving in court with clear and convincing evidence that the accusations are false and baseless. They should not sidetrack the issue by crying political persecution and counter attacking the accusers. –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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