Friday, January 25, 2008

Gloria's Authoritarian Democracy

We are living in a country under an implied democratic system. Democracy exists only in name. Criticism is considered a crime against the state. The only thing which prevents the government from exposing its dictatorial nature is the perception of the international community. It cannot simply declare itself for fear of international condemnation or the removal of foreign aid.

This practice is common in developing countries which rely on foreign funding. Rarely do we see states declare its government an outright dictatorship. Human rights violations is the norm and the government will impose its will on the people. Unlike in stable and totally free countries, you see free expression suppressed in these states. Outspoken critics are quickly dealt with. More often than not, harassed or silenced to submission.

In countries like ours where our government covertly curtail civil liberties, you will hear of countless rumors which the government itself spreads. In reality, it is the government who destabilizes itself. This is to keep its critics scared shitless and the people wary of the opposition. The military leadership even puts a twist on doctrines to keep its forces in check and make them loyal to a person than to the constitution. Propaganda is normal practice and the government churns out advertisements that make itself feel good and the people somehow content. Notice how many ads this administration runs to paint a picture of stability and instability? They need to do this to confuse and divert the people's attention from the real issues besetting the nation.

Every so often, the administration and its security chiefs would "leak out" rumors of dreamed up plots to overthrow it. This allows them enough space to maneuver and of course a reason to crackdown on its critics. It relies on the long running insurgencies to conjure up lies and scare the populace into submission. One need not be a rocket scientist to see what the government is up to. They need to rock the boat to keep themselves in power. This practice diverts the blame away from Gloria's administration and leads to condemnation by the people of GMA's critics. Its a fairly simple gimmick.

Notice how many retired generals are put back into service in the different agencies of government? This is a practice in dictatorships, civilians are systematically eased out, the few civilians are carefully selected from Gloria's political allies. Outgoing Civil Service Commissioner blew the lid on Gloria's transactional politics by exposing her beneficiaries of political paybacks. The bureaucracy is overpopulated with retired military men and unqualified appointees. And these enjoy more benefits than the career employees. They in turn bleed the coffers dry and of course make money out of their stint in government.

Gloria really rocks, not just suck. She rocks the country to stay in power and she sucks our money to feed her insatiable pack. We, the taxpaying public end up shouldering the cost of her gang's hooliganism. She is one wily individual, often a step ahead. The few times she reacts late, her spin doctors do the dirty work. They subvert the constitution and mock our laws. They rely on their own brand of due process and rule of law, their law.

So is there genuine democracy in the Philippines or an implied one? It is obviously the latter. Gloria sure is learning a lot from her African counterparts. I've had comments from nonbelievers that continue to say that there is democracy in our country and compare us to Communist China. These comments come from individuals who reside abroad or maybe Gloria;s paid hacks. Obviously, they do not experience the uneasy air and chilling effect of Gloria's rule. Elections do not make democracies as they can be manipulated. Freedom to blog does not make democracies, believe me, I've had my share of threats. Media do not make democracies as they can easily be threatened or overrun with lies. She must allow us a comfort zone lest the world sees her as a dictator. It is clear she has no intention of stepping down. The Philippines is a democracy only by name, what the people have to learn is to read the fine print which says, "I am Gloria Arroyo and I am here to stay."