Scandalized and outraged?

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

Shenanigans and extreme pressure or actions by politicians in many countries have always been deplorable and condemnable. Recently, these have been more pronounced in countries with populist governments with presidents who do not want to relinquish power, and extremely in authoritarian governments. Venezuela, Brazil, and Turkey are some countries in the first category and Russia, China, Myanmar, and North Korea in the second category. Massive and blatant repression, disinformation, and extra-judicial maneuvers are common daily occurrences in these countries. Among countries that still adhere to democratic principles or a semblance of democracy, there is a constant struggle between the people and the governments to rein in the abuses and excesses of the government, and if there are elections the incumbent administrations are usually booted out of the government. The Philippines is in this category

Recent events in the Philippines, particularly leading to the May 2022 election are examples of political events and actions that scandalize and outrage the people. The mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the graft and corruption in the Pharmally medical supplies procurement, the use of government resources to fund the disinformation campaign, and the pressure tactics on the Commission on Elections on the disqualification case are glaring evidence. So, are people and the voters scandalized and outraged enough? From the main and social media, there is a simmering social outrage. The political handlers are aware of this so that there is a massive counter-propaganda of fake news to push these issues away. The trolls are having a hard time as these are factual issues, and there is an 80/20 dominance of facts about them in the main and social media. Their tactic is diversion from these issues which may not be effective.

Like many other Asian societies, Filipinos tend to be non-confrontational in social behavior and this includes their politics. Even when they are totally against, they are silent and keep their peace and become part of the silent majority. They express their opposition in the elections as in the “Pusyon Bisaya” phenomenon in Cebu during the martial law election and in the Cory Aquino win in the snap election in 1985. The EDSA People Power Revolution was the boiling point that was reached after 16 years of abuse under the martial law, so it can be said that Filipinos are “slow burn” people. The advent of social media may have changed these Filipino dynamics. In social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Tiktok, Messenger, and Viber, Filipinos have become more vocal and confrontational. Unlike the trolls that are using fictitious identities, people expressing strong views are using real names/identities. The remaining silent majority are only those middle-aged and senior citizens who are not tech savvy enough to use social media. Still, these are also the people who cheered when the Ampatuans lost all political power, and when senators Enrile, Revilla, and Estrada were all indicted for graft and corruption. There is always a quiet outrage against politicians from people in all classes on abuses of power.

Outrage is a people’s reaction to extreme violation of moral standards by politicians because we believe we are all subject to the same moral and ethical laws. So politicians acting like they are above the law and moral standards undermine the basis of social order which is a prerequisite for economic development. Even without the moral tenets of religion, the natural law of truth and justice has to be enforced for the orderly interaction among people. It seems that democracy is the form of government that promotes social justice and avoids the abuses of governments, so it is incumbent upon the governed to be scandalized and outraged by the excesses of politicians and governments.


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