• John Baybay

The Youth Raise Arms Against the Beasts of Government


Members of the progressive youth group Anakbayan massed up in front of the Commission on Elections on Thursday, Oct. 15 and called on candidates filing for their certificates of candidacy (COCs) to stand up on issues that matter to the Filipino people.

“People or self?”, the youth cry, calling on the candidates to stand up and address several dozen issues that are crucial to the majority of poor Filipinos. Issues that for years have been cast aside on a waiting list by the Aquino administration. Among them: stopping tuition and price hikes, P125 increase in wages, measures to put an end to contractualization, the improvement of government services, genuine land reform, resuming peace talks and stopping the incursions of US and China. These issues are all very critical issues that are currently being ignored. There has been little of not action given these issues not has there been any satisfactory response. Instead, what has been offered is a systemic sidelining of national issues in favor a gaining brownie points for the ruling party’s hopefuls.

The youth were seen holding placards saying “No” to fraudulent elections! The groups also warned that the occurrence of massive cheating in the polls is highly probable, with a connivance between the incumbent powers and the “administration-biased” Comelec heads who, in many ways, often act as “king makers”.

Certainly the embodiment of our nation’s future, the concerned youth are urging the people, including the candidates vying for public offices in the coming elections to stand up for a clean, honest elections and to be vigilant against fraud and trickery, particularly with the aid of “Hocus PCOS” in 2016. The Comelec is again seen to use the controversial Smartmatic ‘auto-daya’ machines in an alleged scheme to rig the elections in the administration’s favor.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon has earlier expressed concern over the lease deal brokered by the poll body with Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp., which involves the lease of 93,977 new machines for the upcoming national elections.

In House Resolution 2308, Ridon said the lease deal is more costly, in violation of government standards, and sets the stage for “massive cheating” and foreign meddling in the elections. Used in 2010, the machines proved to have a high rate of malfunction. Coupled with the appalling number of disenfranchised voters (estimated at 30%), the unreliable PCOS clearly just opened up the 2010 polls to a plethora of cheating tactics. The continuance of this arrangement deserves to be placed under close scrutiny and accountability.

The practice of collusion between the ruling families that control the private sector and government has successfully preserved a haven for the selected few to rule uncontested in a nation so needing of change. Indeed we are living in a “false democracy” where the choices of those who remain in power has been made for us in a charade of “entertainment-based” politics. There is a systemic dumbing down of the next generation through fluff media and the national pa-bebe and Aldub phenomenon. A systemic neglect to the empowerment of our youth through decent and affordable education has been perpetually denied in a false free-market based approach. Affordable education is hardly competitive in the real world where supply far exceeds demand. The voices of our youth calls for reasonable reforms and the least they could ask is for government is to hear if not advocate their cause. Should they not have a voice to speak about their future?

Our society has not evolved from the days of feudalism where the powers that be only perpetuate their grips upon politics through modern means. What type of future do we hade for our children if their voices are forever quelled in an oppressive regime where the status-quo is preserved?

As press is heating up due to the elections are we not too focused on personalities rather than the issues? It is not the first time that we see our youth in ranks with placards which again signal that nothing much has changed. They serve as a constant reminder that the revolution have not yet ended in EDSA. Worse, is that her old heroes and her legacy has done nothing to change this country for the better. The constant charade of so-called reforms had only succeeded in lining the pockets of the same people in power through a legitimized pork-barrel scheme. With accusations of corruption being hurled across the table, three fingers point back at the accusers and in the end all of them are guilty.

CCT, PDAF and DAP has successfully cemented and monetized political capital and its distribution down to the barangay levels. It is a device that is certainly “pro-poor’ as it perpetuates poverty through the practice and culture of mendicancy. It exacerbates the dependence of the poor on their local leaders. We again, have successfully institutionalized corruption. Hoorah! How dare they point their crooked fingers under the banner of “Daan na Matuwid”. Even with that, they have failed to even provide a small semblance of moral authority. What we get instead is arrogance from elected officials that seem immune to reproach while hiding behind a veneer of self-righteous and false governance. Government is service (in case they have forgotten)! You were voted to serve and not to simply lord upon us. Is it too much to ask for fair play?

While the youth are often condemned for their belligerence, perhaps we should consider some of the changes that they are asking for. This writer was just 12 years old when EDSA happened and 30 years later a generation has passed and we are still fighting for a true representative democracy. An entire generation has matured and we still have a false sense of democratic freedom and a free-market economy. The least that we could expect is for the elections not to be rigged! But then again we are still just hoping.

Governments decide who gets what, when and how. They make policies and pass laws that are binding on all of society’s members. They decide about taxation and spending, benefits and costs, even life and death—governments possess power. They are the gate keepers of who gets in and who stays out. Democracy, just as much as true capitalism must be allowed to work, even though it sometimes works against itself. This is capitalism and democracy’s self-correcting feature. A government that is subject to regulatory capture to protect the few is no real democracy. It only perpetuates the power of the oppressive feudal oligopolies through the maintenance of the status-quo. Unless something drastically changes things, we are at their behest.

The travesty of our defense is channeled as a measure to protect ourselves from ourselves. There is much more activity to counter insurgency and keep it going as a well oiled machine while not developing the means to protect our own sovereignty. We make policies to promote division rather than developing a sense of national identity. We have only historically united ourselves against a common enemy but now we should only look at ourselves as such. It should not be a surprise that our own politicians along with the historically left leaning has sold us to China while on the right hand, they are courting the West.How long must our laws serve to protect the interest of the few? How long must we use the laws and the arms of it to be used in suppressing free speech?

How long must the laws be used to keep us in check in oppressive regulatory regimes just to keep our eyes off the fiscal abuses of those in power? These young people serve as a stark reminder to keep our eyes on the issues that we need to press for action.

Elections legitimize our government, even if these are rife with fraud and violence and all that is foul. Even as political dynasties and other anti-democratic traditions dominate the processes by which the quality of our government is determined, we still submit to a philosophy that insists “this is the way things are, and we should just make-do with it, no matter how stupid”.

We follow this system blindly, without even stopping to think why the same names, and the same faces end up in the leadership after every election. Even if we can’t seem to change the corrupt, counter-progressive ruling class, or if injustice and inequality are the norm in our society, or if all government institutions have become warped with dysfunction—we somehow accept such a pathetic and damning fate. This should stop in our generation and the time is now! Let us call a spade a spade even when it hurts just as the truth does many times.

As the next presidential election nears, it is becoming more an imperative to question the kind of governance we are compelled to accept as appropriate. For truly, it seems this nation’s leadership cannot be more unbecoming. Farce abounds as much as self-righteous pretenses. We should stick with the issues that effect national progress instead of getting caught up in superficial propaganda that is being wielded by those that have means.

More than asking ourselves who to select as our next leader, perhaps we must scrutinize the processes by which an evident ruling class is able to recycle itself into the leadership and thereby perpetuate the few who are mostly corrupt and inept. An anti-dynasty bill must be passed.

What ever happened to the Constitutional provision that prohibits political dynasties precisely because of its potential to usurp our democracy? Why do all policy decisions and the laws that are enacted seem so anti-Filipino in their effect? Why does corruption thrive and seem to infect the highest public offices? And why so few ever get punished for corrupt acts and practices? We should not allow the impunities that infected the last generation to pass itself on to the next. Justice should be given to all and it should be absolute; if not, then it is not justice at all.

While our youth rally in the streets holding placards, here is congress filing bills to make adobo a national dish! City councils meet to change names of streets for the hundredth time. Our congressmen are our direct lines of representation in government. They are there to write legislature in advocacy of the people they represent. They are there to legislate and debate in favor of issues that matter most to their constituency. They are not there to serve as mobile pharmacies, feeding centers, the town’s godfather or waiting shed builders. They are there as our inquiring eyes on how government behaves and function as our checks and balance. Congress is not a congregational slumber party!

When the leadership is helplessly engaged in power struggles, instead of cooperation and consensus; when the Philippine government is acting wholly against the Philippine Constitution; when separation and division into autonomous regions become the quick fix to decades of bitter and deep-seated conflict; when the very government deliberately keeps laws that protect and uphold civil liberties from being enacted, while on the other hand becomes the first to disregard and vastly violate human rights—we need to change the the people in government if not government itself.

More than an election, this is a continuing revolution. But more than a revolution, we need a definition. If our elections do not bring us change and progress, we should force this change in government the old-fashioned way—taking to the streets and simply exercising civil our rights till they are heard. We will still keep battering our keyboards at the same time! However, upon forcing this change, is it not essential that we define exactly what it is we need to change? Government in a democracy is dependent upon “consumer sophistication”. Unless we are educated and ask more of government, then we shall always be at the behest of the beast we have made it to be.

*Published in print version (Voice of the South, Volume 12, No. 10)

#Opinion