Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Philippine Presidential DNA: The Roxas Legacy

We no longer live in an age where Kings and Queens hold absolute power. But our country, the Philippines, remains feudal in certain crucial ways.

Take how we choose our leaders. They're all either from the ranks of Big Money or are owned by Big Money.

Even the daughter of the Poor Boy from Lubao is a slave to the interests of Big Money.

Will we see another product of Presidential progeny take the country's helm at a time when tough decisions have to be made and the country needs to be steered decisively away from the whirlpool of economic recession.

The greatest damage done to our peoples' psyche by the Arroyo government is not the hundreds of billions of pesos it has stolen from the nation's coffers by now, but the sickening of the spirit and amorality as well as apathy that prevails in our state's affairs -- everything from getting a cedula to bidding for billion peso projects. Transactionalism is how you describe what's happening in Philippine government these days.

We cannot have another leader who believe and acts out his or her belief in a middle ground between right and wrong. We cannot have someone who is willing to sit on a fence as long as his interests are protected. We cannot have someone who is willing to sit on a fence when people are dying left and right for their causes.

One candidate Presidential candidate, instead of telling the people about how he's going to lead the country has resorted to media gimmickry.

Mr. Oras na, Mr. Padyakito, or Mr. Palengke or whatever you want to call Manuel "Mar" Roxas II is playing the rich man who loves the masses. Surely, the maseses will lap it up because they scarcely look beyond the pretended affections that mask his ambition.

How Mr. Roxas II will be as a President can be hinted at by looking at how his grandfather and name sake acted as a leader during one of the most difficult times in Philippine history: the Japanese Occupation. Here's an excerpt from Saul Berg's Post Liberation Struggle in the Philippines.

Osmena and his “guerrilla” faction of the Nacionalistas are threatened with possible defeat in the coming elections at the hands of Roxas, the darling of the collaborators.

Roxas’ corkscrew career is typical of Filipino politics. Leaving his office of Senate president, he became a brigadier general in the Usaffe (US Army Forces in the Far East) at the beginning of the war.

Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he soon was busy working for the puppet government, whose constitution he wrote. However, Roxas kept contact with the more “respectable” guerrillas, and was at one time in a Japanese prison camp for
six months as a result of his activities.

Nevertheless he rejoined the puppet government later and was a member of the cabinet when the Americans landed. Escaping from the puppet capital at Baguio, he reached the American lines and was given a clean political bill of health by MacArthur.

All the out-and-out unvarnished collaborators are hiding beneath the skirts of this

The Manila Daily News and the Star-Reporter, who praise puppet President Jose Laurel as the savior of the Philippines, acclaim Manuel Roxas as their presidential candidate.

He is the hero of the collaborationist Congressmen and Senators, the man who will kick the guerrillas out of office and put government back into the hands of the “experienced, responsible people.”

Horace in chapter III, 6 of "Odes" says "For the sins of your fathers you, though guiltless, must suffer."

And Roxas, if he becomes President, will be the second instance where a President's child cleaves to a flawed legacy.

The first had been Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose father Diosdado Macapagal was nearly impeached because of the Blue Book scandal. An account of it is written in Agoncillo's Philippine History where a cabinet memeber of Diosdado Macapagal was found taking money for favoring a bigtime businessman in his deals with the government. Word of it leaked to the press and eventually, congress was set to impeach the President. Macapagal escaped embarassment (which is probably his saving grace) by whisking the bigtime businessman out of the country and thereby stopped any investigation into the bribery. It was said that money flowed all the way to the President's office.

Does the account sound familiar? Does it bear some resemblance to NBN ZTE and the Fertilizer Fund Scam? My contention is that it does.

If we have Roxas as President, perhaps we may see him sitting on the fence on a lot of issues.

A true leader makes a difficult stand, not when its easy but when it is difficult and when the risks are greatest.

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