By SARAH RAYMUNDO
It is no longer a matter of revelation to say that the crisis of governance plaguing the Aquino regime is brought about by a political system that Aquino himself preserves. Is the Aquino regime looking like it is beyond social redemption? It is because of its slow and inefficient handling of a scandal that, for an extended period, has shaken the foundations of the three branches of government, the executive, legislative, and judiciary.
The devil and the deep blue sea in a semi-colony
The president and his staff are by no means a bunch of lazy slackers resistant to action. The persistence of the pork barrel system, in fact, owes much to their frenzied pork barrel buzz. However, these actions are geared toward the perpetuation of bureaucrat capitalism, which, in turn, breeds political dynasties, patronage politics, and all forms of government corruption.
In a semi-colony like the Philippines, running a government means having a gang of bureaucrats who come from the economic elite closely allied to its US imperialist counterpart. Political power melds with economic power forming a plutocracy that makes up the gang of compradors in this country. Plutocrats can only cultivate their interest in profit accumulation through the hijack of state bureaucracy. It is criminal. Yet the crime is committed with impunity.
Of course, Malacanang brags about doing something about the pork barrel scandal by going after a few crooks in the opposition. Senator Bong Revilla is of the opposition. And just when one was expecting a figure from the opposition to speak against a Senate that normalizes plutocracy and dynastic politics, Revilla only made sure that he will go down in history as the senator who clinched a compelling unity among the people: “Between the devil and the deep blue sea, we choose nothing.”
His privilege speech was a mash up of populist pseudo-democratic appeal to national unity crossed with folksy humor. It spoke of the Senate as an estate that operates under the rules of inheritance. In some instances, he made it sound like the Senate is the lair of wild predatory animals. In other parts, the Senate sure looks like an exclusive casa where the inheritance of genetic trait occurs among its members as a matter of course. Overall, the privilege speech approximated the sordid state of the Philippine Senate beleaguered by bureaucrat capitalism.
Forced Consensus vs. Collective Multiplicity
Such is the forced consensus of a government that is currently hijacked by the ruling elite. Elite rule is only interested in profit making and hostile to the idea of human needs. Yet in a dialectical fashion, this forced consensus, also constructs a collective multiplicity. Against the spin doctors of the Aquino regime who can only cite surveys that prove the president’s sustained popularity to invoke a crude notion of “the majority,” it must be clarified that collective multiplicity is not a numerical concept.
Collective multiplicity is an endeavour that entails a mobilization of people’s noble desires. These desires are particularly encapsulated in the ideals of good governance, peace based on social justice, and in the demand for social services, jobs, wage hikes, rights. Collective multiplicity is concretized in social activism. And among social activists, the question of “to be or not to be” is ultimately what drives us to make the impossible possible. The possibility of progressive change, which the government does not only abandon but avidly thwarts, is the target of the anti-Aquino slogan, “Walang pagbabago sa ilalim ni Aquino” (“No change under Aquino!”).
Along came Emmanuel
Emmanuel Mijares, a student of Psychology from Ateneo de Naga, became an overnight sensation “after he was beaten up and detained by Presidential security men and police for disrupting President Benigno Aquino III’s speech on Independence Day”. Holding a banner with the words “Oust PNoy,” “Scrap all forms of pork,” and “DAP ibasura.” (Junk DAP) was not enough for this young man. He disrupted the president’s speech by shouting “Patalsikin ang Pork Barrel King! Walang Pagbabago sa Pilipinas (Oust the Pork Barrel King! Nothing changed in the Philippines!) (1).” In a poster that advertises Mijares’ talk at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, four days after the incident, he is wearing a statement shirt: Minsan kailangang sumigaw para marinig ng mga nagbibingi-bingihan” (Sometimes, one must shout to be heard by those who feign deafness.)
Witnesses’ account is disturbing and revolting: “…Mijares was forcibly dragged by Presidential Security Group personnel and police, and was forced to swallow the whole cloth banner, which was confiscated from him.” (2). He stayed in jail for more than 24 hours. A bail of P8,000 was posted for his release. He is not a free man. He is still charged with violation of Articles 153 and 148 of the Revised Penal Code, or tumults and other disturbances of public order, and assault upon an agent of a person in authority.
Who is the target of Emmanuel’s imprisonment and the standing charges against him? Does anybody believe that the Aquino regime only wants to teach the young man a lesson on good citizenship under a very bad government? Is he the real and only target of these government assaults? We as witnesses to the fascistic measures inflicted upon Emmanuel are the Aquino regime’s true ideological and political targets. We are supposed to stop rocking the boat.
Yet a forum on the pork barrel system and the right to free speech is happening today at UP-Diliman, and Emmanuel will be there.
But not to deliver us yet again. He hardly ever did even on Independence Day. Emmanuel’s disruption of President Aquino’s speech is neither the will of a heckler nor a messiah. He is of the organized progressive youth that has been arousing, mobilizing, and organizing against the pork barrel system. His kind holds fast to the principles mass movement politics that affirms the power of collective action over oddball superstardom. His kind draws strength from forging solidarity with the basic masses, and that is far from playing the role of saviour.
In disrupting the president’s speech, Emmanuel embodied the people’s desire for change. The banner he held shows that the act was an organized plan fuelled by collective daring. Like many of us who took to the streets on the same day, he was righteously agitated, his slogans were radical. But only he had owned the chance to show the president how uncompromisingly empowered we are as a mass movement.
He was first person plural, and nothing can be more historical.
He represented the singularity of activism. He became an epic poet of sorts, animating the Oust Aquino movement by reiterating its role in the current state of the nation. Emmanuel embodied the role of the movement as an entity that draws the line between correctness and crime; and an organized site of participation for resistance and genuine change, for national liberation and social justice.
DAP – Disbursement Acceleration Program is what critics refer to as the Presidential Pork Barrel
Sarah Raymundo is a full-time faculty at the University of the Philippines-Center for International Studies (UP-CIS Diliman) and a member of the National Executive Board of the All U.P. Academic Employees Union. She is the current National Treasurer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the External Vice Chair of the Philppine Anti-Impeiralist Studies (PAIS). She is also a member of the Editorial Board of Interface: A Journal for Social Movements.