Philippine politics has descended into the realm of the dead. It is election season, and even before the official campaign period, already the political parties have launched their strategies in presenting and marketing their respective presidential bets. The party in power, led by no less than the President, has commenced its pet stratagem – digging up the graveyards in search of remains of icons that can be used as devices in behalf of its candidate Mar Roxas. The bones of the dead long turned to ashes are summoned to influence the course and outcome of political events—what political analysts have branded as a form of necropolitics. Or politics of the dead.
By this, the electorate are mesmerized into a kind of resignation to the supposed integrity or good name of one’s forebears to bear upon their act of selecting or adopting a political position. In 1986, the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino catapulted Cory Aquino to the presidency in spite of her inexperience, being just a “plain housewife”. Then, not long after Mother Cory’s death, her name alongside that of her husband’s was invoked, and this helped greatly in sending her son Noynoy to Malacanang.
This time around, Noynoy leads and adopts again the Liberal Party strategy of invoking a dead person’s political reputation to invest Leni Robredo as Roxas running mate with a kind of parallelism to Cory’s fate. Leni’s deceased husband Jesse Robredo has been admired for his “tsinelas” lifestyle and pro-masa politics which the wife vows to uphold and emulate. And so the LP hopes to score a favorable margin over the rival party with its necropolitics.
But it seems everyone else is playing necropolitics. It must be remembered that Senator Grace Poe also basks under the popularity of her late father’s political sunshine during the latter’s shot at the presidency against former-President Arroyo. And now even Bongbong Marcos, willfully ignoring, or denying, the crimes of the late dictator, is also invoking an imaginary legacy of his father as the carriage that will transport him to victory in his own bid for the presidential seat.
It’s just too bad for Vice-President Binay that he does not have parents whose names he could have summoned to endorse him and or salvage him from the ignominy of corruption. On the other hand Mar Roxas, relying on the good name of her running mate, cannot by himself and for his own sake invoke any of his forebears for their lack luster performance in public service. In fact, the name of his grandfather Manuel A. Roxas’ as the first president of the Philippine Republic is tarnished with his ignoble canine subservience to the US imperialists and for his legacy of corruption to his successors in the presidential office.
Nonetheless, this electoral season can still be marked in the history Philippine politics as the season of the dead.
This is a bizarre way of looking back to the past, whereby the protagonists in the present electoral contest are not gauged by their own warranty of sound governance if elected, but a summoning of remembrances of their ancestors whose adherence to patronage politics could not even render them real tribute as true leaders fighting for the emancipation of the masses from abject poverty, or as champions for progress and social justice. No. As far as sincerity to fulfill the long-drawn-out aspiration of the people for development and prosperity they are found wanting. Sila’y tinimbang ngunit kulang.
Whenever we contemplate on the deplorable mess the political system has caused our national life, and seeing the utter failures of our succession of political leadership, we begin to totter in our hopes for a better Philippines ahead. This electoral season will come and go like the rain. It shall flood the political landscape with much hullabaloo and fanfare, all for nothing. And yet, Noynoy Aquino seems to be living in a different reality, nauseatingly predicting ‘first world status’ for our country with his much abused slogan “matuwid na daan”. Maybe he is talking in terms of what gargantuan increase in profits will accrue to the members of the ruling elite with the perpetuation of neo-liberal policies dictated by the system of subservience to foreign monopoly capitalism, blindly relying on the hollow prospects the country will gain out of the wholesale plunder of our natural resources.
The “season of the dead” will become a veritable season of misery and death for the millions who are in the graveyards of the living, groveling in extreme poverty and want. Literally, the season of the dead will be a real season of criminalities and deaths for countless of the impoverished masses who would resort to “kapit sa patalim” in order to survive.
These are happening before our very noses today. They are bound to worsen and deepen as crisis upon crisis continues to unfold inevitably under a political leadership that clings to the age-old system of “patronage politics” in all its despicable, deceitful guises.