WE are living in historic times, in, as Lenin remarked, “weeks where decades happen.”
That’s a bit exaggerated. It is the past several months or so where decades happened: A strong republic is finally emerging in what has been this sorry land.
And by a strong state, I mean, as political scientists define it, one that has two main features. First, it is a state that is autonomous of dominant classes and sectors, most especially independent of the oligarchs. Second, it has the capacity through a strong bureaucracy and military to protect and serve the Filipinos’ interests.* The importance of a strong state is that there has been no developed country that didn’t have a strong state in periods of their growth.
Since Marcos’ fall, we haven’t had a strong state; under Duterte it is emerging.
Such a strong state is anathema to the Yellows and Reds. For the Yellows, a strong state means the political enfeeblement of their oligarchs and their allied oligarchs to set the nation’s course for their own financial needs. Communist insurgencies have never succeeded when confronted by a strong state, as in the case of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1960s.
This is why the Yellows and Reds have been scaring Filipinos over the same thing, the bogeyman of authoritarianism, which is different from a strong state.
By state, I mean including all its three branches: the executive, legislative and judicial. All three branches in the past several months have been tempered in intense political fire, and have emerged tough as steel not just in one theater of battle, but in four fronts. The Republic is winning.
House of Representatives
First, the House of Representatives has finally demonstrated its independence from the Philippine oligarchy, in its overwhelming refusal to give the ABS-CBN network a franchise to use the nation’s patrimony — its radio frequency spectrum — to generate billions of pesos almost entirely just for the 12 members of the Lopez clan, and at the same time to wield it as a political weapon.
Can a Congress claim to be independent if it allowed a gang of actors and the Communist Party with its vast propaganda machine to pressure it to grant an oligarch’s wishes? Can a Congress claim to be strong if it extends ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise even if it has been undertaking in the past three decades tax-avoidance schemes, which most countries in the world now classify as criminal tax evasion? One of its major stockholders and top honcho, Eugenio Lopez 3rd spitted on our Constitution by hiding the fact that he hid from the public that he is an American?
The Republic has proven its toughness in demonstrating that oligarchs, the Communist Party and the Yellows’ modus operandi of claiming what the “people” want through demonstrations, petitions, statements by nongovernment organizations, associations and even universities they finance are not just bogus but undermine the rrepublican system that has evolved since the 1848 French Revolution at much cost of human life.
Even if the Lopezes manage to convince or buy tens of thousands of celebrities and associations to demand ABS-CBN’s reopening, these are all worthless since a Republic is a system of representation. The people’s voice is represented not by those who simply declare to speak for them but by those whom the people elect in orderly elections.
If the Lopezes and the Communist Party want to get ABS-CBN to operate, they should get their agents or allies elected as congressmen or even president — as Eugenio 3rd’s smarter grandfather Eugenio Sr . and grand-uncle (the former vice president Fernando) had done in the 1960s and 1960s, especially in the case of the presidency.
Second, the Republic’s judicial system has been attacked not just here but by the most powerful media establishment in the world, that of the United States, and even by that country’s neocolonial strategists
I am referring to the libel conviction of the fraudster Maria Ressa. This American has remarkably convinced not a few people in this country and almost all of US and Western media — except for the intrepid Stephen Sackur of BBC — that she is being persecuted by President Duterte, and that the whole media world should rally behind her.
But do not think that her success in this solely because of her theatrical skill: Western media and US strategists have made her their fodder to demonize the first Philippine leader ever to wrench the country away from the claws of the American eagle — at a time when its sole rival for hegemony in Asia, the People’s Republic of China, is fast emerging.
The truth of the matter is that in Rappler’s enthusiasm and hubris to demonize the late Chief Justice Renato Corona — which was its contract with both the Aquino 3rd regime and a Supreme Court justice who salivated for that highest judicial post — it maligned an innocent businessmen. That businessman simply wants justice served.
Ressa indeed is either so arrogant or has such a sense of impunity — or really doesn’t have any idea of the ethics of journalism — that to this day that vicious article against a businessman is still posted by Rappler.
The Yellows and even the Reds have weaponized her as another cannon with which to bombard the Duterte administration. I’ve never seen such pressure put to bear on a judge, and we must remember that institutions are like chains, it is strong only as its weakest link.
We must salute the judge, Reinalda H. Estacio-Montesa, who convicted Ressa for standing up to such tremendous domestic and international pressure. She is a hero of the Republic. Her standing her ground on the Ressa case is a huge contribution to the strengthening of our judicial system, to become autonomous of the dominant classes.
Third, the strength of both the executive and legislative branches had been challenged by the CPP-NPA and its immense network of sympathizers in order to stop the enactment of the Anti-Terror Law which would arm the Republic in finally defeating it. CPP chairman emeritus Jose Ma. Sison has indeed been livid recently: he knows the Anti-Terrorism Law is such a quantum leap in the state’s power to defeat his forces.
In passing the law’s passage, with only two small-minded senators — Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros — voting against, the Senate has been proven able to transcend its members’ partisanship and even personal pettiness. It was the independent Sen. Panfilo Lacson who was its principal author; opposition senators Franklin Drilon, Mary Grace Poe, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay and Emmanuel Joel Villanueva voted with the interest of the nation at heart, not their parties.
And fourth, the Republic has proven its capability to protect and serve the Filipino people through even the most devastating and unexpected phenomenon that has hit the world, the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even with the rise of cases in the past week, we are much better off than even the richest nation on earth, the US, which had boasted of having the globe’s most efficient bureaucracy and the best medical professionals in the world. As of July 3, our cases per million population total 520, as against our former colonial masters, Spain, with 6,481 cases and the US’ 10,510. Our Covid-19 deaths per million are 15, extremely low compared to Spain’s 608 and the US’ 418.
If you think like Senator Pangilinan who says that there has been “no plan” to deal with the pandemic, you haven’t read the documents showing how the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (and its arm, the National Task Force Covid-19) works, how quickly the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was swiftly enacted and how comprehensive it is, how the three levels of quarantine work so that local governments — admirably mobilized to deal with the pandemic — have templates to deal with outbreaks, and how the finance department quickly tapped sources of funds so the Republic could quickly feed the poor and provide our medical personnel with the necessary protective and curing equipment.
Many will remember the year 2020 as the time of the pandemic. I prefer to see it as the year of the Strong Republic.
*This concept is expounded in the “Strong Republic” chapter detail in my book, Debunked: Uncovering Hard Truths About EDSA, Martial Law, Marcos, Aquino, with a Special Section on the Duterte Presidency. Available online and at Popular Book Store and Amazon.com.