Wenceslao: Enduring the current political landscape

Nobody told us Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was the best candidate for president in the last elections. But since he won anyway, and nobody mounted a credible enough protest after the polls, I knew we would be stuck in the mud for the next six years. Complaints are starting to be raised against the administration. I say that repeating the mantra, “we told you so,” wouldn’t even be adequate for the voters who voted for him.

I can say the same regarding the last local elections. Michael Rama wasn’t the best candidate for mayor in Cebu City. Neither was Rajiv Enad in Minglanilla. But they won anyway, and no credible protests against them were mounted. So we will have to wait for the next local elections about two years from now to, again, try choosing our best leaders—if we can.

Our history of practicing liberal democracy has told us that our elections have still to provide us with the perfect leader. Elections have always been a hit-and-miss thing. The more we miss, the more we are driven deep into the muck. Good for other countries like Singapore, which may have produced an imperfect leader in Lee Kuan Yew but who still managed to bring his country out of the muck.

Which reminds me of Mayor Rama’s boast to transform Cebu City into another Singapore. I can cite you many instances wherein Rama’s boasts fell short during his previous stints as Cebu City mayor. He left behind many broken promises, meaning unfinished projects that were so ambitious that these were either left unfinished or, if were started, left many things to be desired. That could have been the reason why he told City Hall employees to shut up with regard to his “Cebu City as another Singapore” boast.

But as long as our officials adhere to the principles of “liberal democracy,” I am good with it. As long as our rights are protected—that include the rights to suffrage and free speech—then I can dig the willingness to endure the current political landscape. Marcos Sr. had jettisoned liberal democracy in favor of facism, and I hope Marcos Jr. won’t follow his late father’s lead. If he can do that, then I can sacrifice a bit.

All the problems we are facing now are parts of a defective system. The rise in the prices of agricultural produce, like onions, is a product of a defective agricultural setup. Marcos Jr. could never solve that unless he fixed the setup, which he couldn’t because his base, like the land-owning class, is part of that defective setup. That is precisely the reason why he is looking for an easy way out: importation.

Which, of course, brings up another set of problems, like tightening the noose on the country’s onion farmers. That, in turn, allows us to view closely the ways the moneyed corrupt the liberal democratic setup and makes it difficult for us to break our spiral into oblivion. But this should not be reason enough for us to drift away from the liberal democratic principles that have guided us through the years. Drifting further to the right would make the problem even worse. That was one lesson we learned from the Marcos years of old.