The Ambivalent and Critical Political Atmosphere
In the Philippines
By Apolinario Villalobos
Politics is universally ambivalent and being such, nobody inside the political arena is a permanent ally and friend. In the Philippines, ambivalent politics is not just prevalent but literally, dirty. Proofs of these characteristics are turncoatism, vote buying with the use of drug money during elections, and slaying of opponents. A few of politicians who staunchly remain clean and idealistic pitifully lag behind during the election, while the rest of them who fortunately get elected, do not last long, as they are either murdered or become victims of image demolition scheme There are clear indications that the general desire of the dirty traditional politicians (trapos) to maintain their clout in the government at all cost is to recoup their expenses during the election, or simply stated, to amass a vast “return of investment” at the earliest possible time. There is a popular adage that says, “the shortest way to get rich is via politics”.
Currently, Duterte is a victim of the ambivalent dirty political system in the country. He got elected because Filipinos perceive in his person a “hope” that they have been wishing for, after the long decadence and downslide of the political system. In his effort to merge with even the unfriendly elements aside from his political enemies, Duterte extended his hand to them. His effort seemed to have reaped success as peace talks have been undertaken with MILF, MNLF and NPA. Unfortunately, the NPA reneged from its promise to cooperate, proof that the said group is so splintered that its leadership has become inutile due to its inability to control their rank.
On the other hand, the relationship of Duterte with the MILF and MNLF seems stable despite the debacle at Marawi city which involved the initially taken-for-granted terroristic Maute Group. The Marawi debacle is the most acidic test of the Duterte administration as it has greatly affected the long-coveted federalization of the country. It has also diverted the attention of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from other urgent concerns. The historic city and cultural seat of the Maranaos has impressed an ugly scar in the map of Mindanao that even the Islamic religious groups and elders have come out in the open to denounce the ruthless act of the Maute Group and their Christian recruits.
Meanwhile, politicians in Manila, have all eyes towards Duterte who is from Mindanao, not because they appreciate his effort, but because they view him as evil in his effort to suppress the drug menace. Many of them have not been to Mindanao, yet, they compete with the ageing Catholic bishops in filling the air with condemnations of the guy. That’s how it is with politics in the Philippines, the ambitious and the unthinking make noise to be noticed.