I came across Randy’ David’s opinion piece on “Warlords in a weak state“.
He articulated the phenomena quite well and pointed out that warlord-ism is not unique to Mindanao alone. He states:
“rido alone cannot explain what happened in Maguindanao. A fuller analysis must take into account the weak state in which it is framed.
Family feuds are certainly not unique to our society. They thrive wherever kinship remains the dominant principle for organizing an individual’s participation in the larger social world. They usually disappear as a society grows in complexity. The individual becomes entangled in the multiple crosscutting ties offered by the modern world. Thus the kinsman becomes a citizen, a university student, a journalist, a member of a political party, a Rotarian, a doctor or a soldier in the army, or falls in love with someone outside the clan.
This is a process that does not always occur smoothly. For many postcolonial societies like ours, the transition to modernity has been very uneven, spawning problems that are not easily solved in either the traditional or strictly modern way. Instead of withering away in obsolescence, clans can often draw new vitality from the modern institutions into which they are grafted. This could give rise to something as benign as a family corporation, or to something fundamentally vicious. The traditional absolutism of these patriarchal clans, when fused with the immense resources of the modern state, can spawn barbarians of the most lethal and abusive kind. This, exactly, is what has happened to varying degrees in our society.
The massacre in Maguindanao may stand out for a long time for its brazenness and heinousness, but the forces that shaped it are by no means isolated or peculiar to Muslim Mindanao. They lurk in many regions of our country, providing support to various activities—political and economic, legal and illegal—and feeding from the institutional structures of modern society. One only needs to take a look at the local leaders and organizers of the party in power in order to produce a map of modern warlordism in the Philippines. In their ranks, any observer will find an assortment of gambling lords, smugglers, drug lords, human traffickers, and leaders of crime syndicates, who, without exception, maintain private armies. Many of them have become big players in the world of business and politics, gaining reputations as benevolent entrepreneurs, displacing the traditional warlords from the landed oligarchy. They operate through networks and layers of patronage, demanding from their followers unconditional loyalty in exchange for economic security and assisted access to the offices of the state. But whereas the feudal lords softened their rule by appeals to culture, the new warlords govern mainly through intimidation and violence.”
This is a continuum of which integrates the perversion of the values known as bayanihan, pakikisama, and utang na loob turning into a cocktail of impunity and dysfunctionality. Philippine society has yet to learn to draw the line between doing the right thing and knowing when the ethnocentric values Filipinos trumpet cross the line.
While it is true that “This situation, so pervasive still in our country today, will not disappear as long as our national politicians choose the path of enlisting outmoded local power systems into their political parties, rather than patiently create modern organs of political aggregation appropriate to a democracy”, we also need to stress that the politicians are products of our choices as a society.
As a representative democracy, these politicans are reflections, that we, the voters have made. The buck does not stop with the politician.
As a representative democracy, we, the people, VOTED these warlords, thieves, bozos into positions of authority. As a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the buck stops with us – THE PEOPLE.
It also ties in with the recent Inquirer editorial “Shallow Pool” –
“WHAT does it say about us, and the quality of our politics, when the first senator to file his certificate of candidacy for reelection in May 2010 was the one who should not have been elected to the Senate in the first place? Sen. Lito Lapid has proven himself eminently unqualified for the work of the Senate, not because he is an actor or a celebrity, but because he has done nothing senatorial in his six-year term. Naturally, since this is Philippine politics, Lapid is favored to win reelection.
That, sadly, is where we are. Despite three massive tectonic shifts in the political landscape in a single year, the pool of candidates for the Senate has turned out to be very shallow indeed. “
When we, the VOTERS, elect not just a national leadership that “is strong and rests on a clear popular mandate” but a national leadership with integrity, competence, vision, and a track record of performance , we, as a society are in “a better position to dismantle the anachronistic local power centers that operate side by side state institutions. It need not tolerate, or worse accommodate, the existence of parallel sultanates and their abusive armies.”
When we select a national leadership that is strong on pedigree but totally devoid of integrity, competence, vision, and a track record of performance – “we have an insecure leadership that colludes with a broad range of non-accountable forces to keep itself in power, it is the modern state that withers away”.
It isn’t just that “We have indeed paid a high price for allowing an illegitimate president to take charge of the state”, we have a paid a high price for the flawed choices that WE, THE PEOPLE have made. Even in today’s upcoming political exercise, we dignify winnability and pedigree over ability and integrity. We do the same things and yet expect different results.
Even as the mainstream trumpets Peñaflorida’s victory, we lose sight of the fact that a Peñaflorida had to step up because, we, THE PEOPLE, have not voted for leaders who invest in education – who can put more classrooms, books, and well-paid teachers. We have chosen the path of least resistance – of gaming the system. That when given the opportunity to vote multiple times, we showed that the Filipino can outvote other nationalities. Where one nationality votes 5 times, the Filipino votes 100 times. These other nationalities were blasted away – after all we have had generations of FLYING VOTERS and have raised the practice to an art form. That Efren stepped up is commendable. That an Efren was needed because we, as a society have failed our schoolchildren, is regrettable and tragic.
When we point one finger at Arroyo and blame our leaders, three other fingers point to us.
As Jose Rizal pointed in “The Indolence of the Filipino” –
“we set forth the causes that proceed from the government in fostering and maintaining the evil we are discussing. Now it falls to us to analyze those that emanate from the people. Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary: a fatuous government would be an anomaly among righteous people, just as a corrupt people cannot exist under just rulers and wise laws. Like people, like government, we will say in paraphrase of a popular adage.”
If we, THE PEOPLE want positive change in government, we, THE PEOPLE must become the change we desire – we start by treating our votes sacredly – to choose on the basis of ability, consistency, integrity, and vision. Choose as if it were a matter of life and death – ours, our children, our children’s children. Enough with vacuous pedigree and winnability – platforms, please.
The buck stops.. and starts… with US, THE PEOPLE.