Re: Solutions for 2022

Published January 1, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Tonyo Cruz


Tonyo Cruz

The new year is a new beginning. We would divide the house on May 9 and on June 30 witness the inauguration of a new president and administration.

We were told that elections are the most solemn democratic exercise. We convinced millions to register to vote, and gave them the promissory note that their direct participation would inspire and elevate the nation.

But like in past elections, we have seen the start of yet another circus, complete with their usual amazing feats and tricks. The top bets compete with one another in portraying themselves as the saviors our country is allegedly waiting for. Candidates’ financiers and donors meanwhile are cleverly hidden from view; there’s no explanation where advertising funds come from. Traditional politicians are switching from one party to the next. All told, they are doing everything to either perpetuate themselves in power, or to regain it.

Based on public opinion polls, the scion of the ousted dictator looks set to restore his family to power, with the current president’s daughter as the top bet for vice president. Only time could tell if the anti-Marcos and anti-Duterte forces could manage to unite and offer us an alternative worth fighting for.

I have used quite often enough in this space the phrase “widen our democratic imagination” and I would like to think that I mean it every single time. I sure mean it again now when I say that 2022 offers the opposition and non-administration forces the opportunity to give their absolute best to the country.

I understand the frustration of many educated in the seeming embrace of the Marcos and Duterte by millions despite the strong arguments, historical basis and the recent painful experiences. We give special honor to the survivors and relatives of the fallen who are heartbroken over the current standing of candidates, and by the seeming triumph of forces of tyranny and dictatorship.

The tragedy that’s not being discussed by pundits or admitted by campaigners is that the ongoing post-Marcos period of nearly 36 years is now longer than the 14-year Marcos dictatorship. How little faith do we have in our people that we may be failing or refusing to see their political acumen in passing judgment on both dictatorship and democracy. As some of them would readily tell us, “they’re all the same.” The people could also be rejecting the convention wisdom that the political situation is largely or mainly due to rampant disinformation and historical revisionism. True, fake news is widespread but is it really the root cause or a mere symptom of a political and economic system unable or unwilling to admit mistakes and to hold perfidy accountable? 2022 could still be a game-changer for democratic forces, but perhaps only if they upgrade the democratic agenda. The criticisms against Marcos and Duterte, however valid, have largely failed to convert a considerable chunk of voters. It is always easy to insult the perceived stupidity of the Marcos-Duterte supporters. But if the opposition were truly smart, they should be able to address what’s wrong, admit its mistakes to the public they have for a long time molested, compete nationally and locally by presenting a new vision and narrative capable of inspiring a new coalition of voters.

2022 demands a resolution from the candidates, especially the opposition. They should directly offer a new vision and practical solutions relevant to jeepney and taxi drivers, delivery riders, landless farmers and fisherfolk, minimum-wage and contractual workers, healthcare workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, overseas Filipino workers, LGBTs, the national minorities, and other sectors comprising the democratic majority.

2022 demands honesty from democratic forces for the many times they failed to stand for democracy, whether politically, economically, diplomatically, or militarily. Killings and all-out wars. Neoliberal economics. Corruption. Militarized bureaucracy amid incursions into our territory. The people apparently remember those many painful times, pushing them to the embrace of tyrants and their false promise of redemption.

2022 also demands something bold. Young people are watching how the elders do it. They are waiting to take boldest-possible political action under the Constitution. But will they and the rest of us who are eager to fight to the hilt be contented with “the lesser evil” and mere cosmetic change? Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa. May God bless us as we divide — and strive to boldly rebuild — the house of the Philippines in 2022.