The next election in May this year is fast approaching, and one thing obvious is that the senatorial slates of both the Arroyo administration and the political opposition merely increased the Filipino people’s disillusionment with this country’s politicians. The lack of an alternative is unfortunate.
I partly blame this not only on the politicians but also on the so-called civil society, which arrogated unto itselfthe task of saving the Philippines from its downward spiral. The term “civil society” became popular after Edsa 2, when a mostly middle class force gathered at Edsa in January 2001 and forced the downfall of the corrupt and incompetent government of then president Joseph Estrada.
Actually, “civil society” is just a variation of cause-oriented groups” that populated the so-called rainbow coalition that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. They were mostly from the middle class and advanced progressive causes that for a time changed the actuation of traditional politicians. Included in the group are those identified with the national democrats and social democrats, liberal politicians and personalities like Cory Aquino.
Unfortunately, many civil society leaders ended up being sucked by traditional politicians or are stuck in their rigid ideologies and flawed strategy and tactics. Once new governments were installed, like the Cory administration after Edsa 1 and the Gloria Arroyo administration after Edsa 2, civil society leaders grabbed government posts and then became defenders of the status quo.
Those who were lost in the passing or refused to join the new governments continued fiscalizing for sometime but soon allied themselves with the political opposition, which are no better than the politicians of the administration. Thus, Cory Aquino and her social democrat types linked arms with Estrada, whom they helped depose—a laughable sight.
I hoped that these civil society groups would straighten up their acts in this year’s elections and spearhead the formation of an alternative force that would draw in the growing number of people disillusioned with the Arroyo administration and the political opposition. Instead, they are propping up the coalitions and the senatorial candidacies of the opposing traditional politicians.
Civil society groups that are anti-Gloria, for example, dogmatically followed the faulty notion that only a united opposition—meaning, a coalition that includes discredited traditional politicians—can defeat the Arroyo administration in the election. That shows utter lack of respect for the intelligence of many voters and failure to appreciate the strength of their principles and beliefs.
Civil society groups could have rallied behind candidates like Senators Joker Arroyo, Francis Pangilinan and Ralph Recto, even Manuel Pangilinan, who were initially reluctant to join either the Arroyo administration or the Estrada-led opposition. They could have come up with a slate that included Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, instead of having Noynoy run under the Estrada-led opposition together with discredited tradional politicians.
It would have been the time for them to chart a new course and possibly succeed. But instead, they wallowed in their own delusions, wanting to topple the Arroyo administration by forging an alliance with politicians that majority of the people do not respect. The strategy was oust Arroyo at all costs, principles be damned.
Civil society leaders apparently failed to sum up their experience in the past several months when they initiated anti-Arroyo rallies with laughable attendance. People, or at least the more advanced sector, could not join them because they were with politicians who were equally discredited. The people knew better; they still know better now.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, Feb. 19, 2007