Carvajal: Modern-day oppressors


I have to give it to President Bongbong Marcos (PBBM). He has the knack of saying the right words for every occasion. People easily understand his fluent and direct manner of communicating. However, he has a credibility problem that belies the authenticity of his calls for patriotic action.

Early on, PBBM enjoined Filipinos to pay their taxes. But how can he do that when people know his family owes a hefty amount of taxes to the government? Recently, in an official statement, he assured that his administration remains committed to eliminating hunger in the country. How can we lend him credence when he has no tangible anti-poverty program, has not initiated relevant changes to the country’s trickle-effect economy and all poverty-inducing systems are as before?

At the re-enactment of the Battle of Mactan that he graced with his presence, he asked Filipinos to keep alive Lapulapu’s legacy by facing up to “modern-day oppressors” (his words) with the same courage Lapulapu exhibited against Magellan. He couldn’t have said it any better. It’s a patriotic call that you can hardly gainsay. Not offhand anyway.

But wait, who are these modern-day oppressors we must stand up to with Lapulapu-like courage? Here PBBM equivocates miserably. It turns out that his modern-day oppressors are not people but, in his words, “greed, selfishness and divisiveness.” He refrained from identifying modern-day oppressors for good reason as we will soon know after figuring out ourselves who these oppressors are.

The poor majority cannot be the oppressors. They are more like victims of oppression, of the greed, selfishness and divisiveness of modern-day oppressors. The poor are rarely accused of being greedy. More wrongly than rightly and more often than not, their poverty is blamed by others not on their being greedy but on being lazy.

The middle class cannot be the oppressors either. They might be indifferent to the poverty of millions and content with making best efforts to join the ranks of the rich. But they are really more ambitious than greedy. Yet, in fairness, they provide society with most of the social agents who are concerned with poverty and are helping people fight it.

Society’s rich and powerful minority, the owning class, is the only group left that could be today’s oppressors. (That’s a sociological and not necessarily a moral statement.) And we know PBBM’s family is a prominent member of this elite group. Which is probably why he could not identify them. Which is also why we have to doubt if he meant it that we should have Lapulapu’s courage to fight oppressors.

He ended his speech by asserting that if we keep Lapulapu’s legacy of courage alive, his Bagong Pilipinas will come about sooner. That is a moot point. From below the wishful thinking is that Bagong Pilipinas will come about faster if modern-day oppressors moderate their greed and find ways to distribute the country’s resources fairly and equitably to all.


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