THE rhetoric and the vitriol have reached toxic levels between opposing camps in the past few days in the wake of the #lenileaks controversy and all I that I am able to muster is a big yawn and hohum. I remain unmoved, perhaps because of the cold weather and the accumulated sleeping lard clogging the system from all that litson of the holidays.
A number of Filipino personalities both local and abroad were “googled” to have exchanged emails encouraging the growth of the anti-Duterte sentiment after the blitzkrieg burial of the hated dictator. That the Office of the Vice President, currently occupied by the canonized yellow saint in the person of Leni Robredo, joined the fray was not patently illegal.
It was crass and unfortunate to have been caught encouraging anti-government sentiment, a government it is part of and whose office is funded by the tax-payers’s money. But that was their entire mistake - to have been caught in an open email group accessible through google cache.
For a few internet personalities identified with the Duterte camp to suddenly have moral scruples over standards they have long discarded in their political propaganda is somewhat surprising.
It is a big mystery to me why it is news that the dislodged yellow camp is moving heaven and earth to get back in power. Given the degree of influence and resources taken away from them, it is mere political inertia that they will move heaven and earth to get back within ambit of the golden favored circle. That is the rule in elite democracy whose various factions are engaged in a never ending game of political musical chairs.
The objective is to secure one’s hold over the political institutions of the country so that plunder through direct or indirect corruption can continue unhampered. If ever control is taken away, grab the first and every opportunity that will come to dislodge that which dislodged you.
It would have been more interesting if the yellow camp is making headway in this aspect. But it seems that the magic and resources are not coming together to usher in the demise of the Duterte administration anytime soon. Instead of becoming a valid political alternative, the stragglers of the liberal party remain discredited, even hated, by wide swaths of the Filipino public.
The pointing of fingers are going however which way and the objective of each opposing camp is to herd those inclined to believe their position in the ongoing elite intramurals.
All these led erstwhile liberal camp stalwart turned rogue but still aligned with the yellow camp Walden Bello to turn the tables against the administration and quip that #lenileaks is a red herring orchestrated by the administration to consolidate support for its administration. By depicting government as constantly under siege from the yellow camp just a breath away from power, the Duterte administration gains loyalty and support from its electorate and base thwarting the challenges brought about by its diminishing legitimacy.
Bello is alluding to an insecure government currently in power. Or from another frame of reference, a government who is unaware of its strength that is why it still resorts to old ways of wielding and practicing political power. Thus, the relentless attack on an inconsequential yellow political opposition.
To serve its purposes, the Duterte admin may have been artificially huffing and propping up what may actually be a scarecrow stick opponent to make them appear formidable before the public. It’s an old political game actually that should have no space in a sincere government seeking change.
The resort to old tactics of maintaining political control over other political branches of government particularly congress, is proof of this unfortunate inclination. Pork or the provision of public funds for a congressman’s pet project in his or her district has been rendered unconstitutional and patently illegal by the Supreme Court.
And yet, the Duterte administration has allocated billions of the people’s money in the 2017 budget appropriations through a creative skirting of the process as defined in the jurisprudence. The old ways are maintained – loyal congressmen are awarded millions of pesos in largesse, a significant amount of which end up as ghost or substandard projects.
Duterte ran and won in a platform of change. By the looks of it, what we will be seeing is more of the usual even with a maverick president at the helm. It is turning out that, for now, the deep-seated maladies afflicting our political institutions are far more enduring and powerful than our collective aspirations for genuine political change.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 10, 2017.