Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Palasan: Political loyalties

Spark of law

THERE is a great political divide: “yellowtards versus dutertetards.” But can we not put in the equation the Filipinos?

Sadly, we have not evolved from the personality cult of the past. It is still “Noranians” versus “Vilmanians” that pervades our national psyche. Even if Nora Aunor has fallen from grace after her drug issues, “Noranians” still extol her virtues, blind-sided by their desire to see only the ideal superstar in their minds.

What is true in the filmdom is also true in our political life. It is either you are a “yellowtard” or “dutertetard.” There is no in between. You cannot criticize any action, policy, or blunder of the president without being labeled a “yellowtard.” That works too for the “yellowtard” camp.

In this great political divide, we have seen intelligent men who commit intellectual dishonesty to defend the bloopers of their president. Heart first before the mind. Belief first before reason. Oftentimes, we marshal our arguments based on our heart's desire, on our loyalties, instead of critical and independent reasoning.

We can excuse perhaps the masses for acting out of emotions, bordering on fanaticism. But there is no excuse for the learned. The learned has the obligation to maintain an integrity in thought and tongue, in mind and in the written word.

When I took to task the Duterte administration for the war on drug and the clear abuse of power in the Trillanes issue, slingshots were fired at me. Criticizing the administration already puts me in the “yellowtard” label.

We have forgotten that before our political loyalties, we have our only one loyalty: the Philippine flag. Fact, it is the only loyalty that should matter. It is the Filipinos first before blind obedience to a political leader.

Politicians, be it Duterte or PNoy, may have the Filipinos in their minds first. But when their grip on power is being threatened, political survival takes the front seat, and the Filipinos at the back. That we cannot deny them. That is just the nature of things. But we have the solemn duty to keep them in check, to express our ideas in the democratic space.

There is nothing wrong with being a follower of the Aquinos or of the Dutertes. But it should not be a blind, if not fanatical, loyalty. Where the interest of the politicians clash with the interests of the Filipinos, there is no other option but to fight for the latter.

Before anything else, be a Filipino.

If we put in the equation the Filipinos, then there is no problem criticizing Duterte for his brazen abuse of power in the Trillanes issue. We can still remain his follower even if we criticize him. And nothing can stop us also to appreciate for the free education up to the tertiary level in state schools which Duterte has ordained. Praising the president for his good policies should not make us a “dutertetard”. It is not anathema to be a follower and at the same time a constructive critic.

There is nothing wrong with political loyalties. That makes a vibrant democracy. But the moment we close our eyes to the abuses of our leaders, then we sacrifice the greater interests of the Filipinos in the altar of our being “yellowtards” or “dutertetards.” That is fanaticism.

The responsibility of the electorate is to praise the leaders when they are right and chastise them if they abuse. Silence against the abuses will only make monsters out of these political leaders.

Tell me now, can we not put into the equation our being Filipinos despite our political loyalties?