Vagaries of Politics; "In a Democracy You Can Say What You like as Long as You Do What You're Told." - Anthony Butler

Manila Bulletin, February 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

Vagaries of Politics; "In a Democracy You Can Say What You like as Long as You Do What You're Told." - Anthony Butler


Byline: Hector R.R. Villanueva

In the United States, in preparation for the Presidential elections later this year, great and far-reaching issues are being debated which will have a fundamental and profound impact on American society for generations to come.

Whether it is the quagmire and emotionally-draining war in Iraq, where young American soldiers are dying every day for a war they cannot justify, or whether America is ready for the first woman Democrat President, or the first Democrat black President, or another round of pro-Iraq war Republican administration, the American voting public today is confronted for the first time with soulwrenching issues that will fundamentally transform American society.

Regrettably, we, in the Philippines, also a quagmire of sorts, are bogged down in interminable debates, scandals, family feuds, graft and corruption, political vendetta, and character assassinations of small-time bureaucrats in total disregard of the public's welfare, the country's reputation and image, time and energy wasted, and the urgent need to move on and conserve the economic gains.

In the process, there is an emerging leadership vacuum between, on the one hand, a determined Presidency that is constantly under siege and scandal-prone, and, on the other hand, a wide phalanx of self-anointed opposition personalities in search of a credible leader, a viable party, money, charismatic leadership, integrity, and acceptability. Most of them are perceived to be weak but available.

In the meantime, we have not seen the end of political refiguration of parties and alliances as the consequence of Speaker Jose de Venecia's uncivil ouster from the Speakership.

The next two years will be interesting and perilous times. Since nature abhors a vacuum, in view of the looming recession, non-productive Congress, and leadership vacuum, the unexpected can happen which may derail the economic momentum.

When all is said and done, since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had tolerated and approved the shake-up of the House of Representatives pari-passu the continuing saga and scandal of the ZTE-NBN project, the administration must see to it that its crisis management is on track and brilliantly managed, or else? …

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