Sunday, February 26, 2006

Educated Filipinos tired of Philippines coup attempts

As you may or may not know, the president of the Philippines (Arroyo) is under threat of a coup or a rebellion stemming from the military. A segment of the marines have been influenced by politicians that's opposed to the president. About 100 marines staged a rebellion after a previous ploy was squashed on Friday (24th).

President Arroyo's influence
According to Forbes magazine, the Philippine peso was the best performing Asian currency in 2005. This is a positive recognition of President Arroyo's ability to manage the economics of the country, thanks to her graduate studies at Georgetown University, USA. She was once an economic professor and was a classmate of former US President Bill Clinton.

The opposition against her
Much like the Democrats in the United States, there is opposition against President Arroyo in the Philippines coming from liberals, communists, socialists, labor unions, and left wing activists. The main issue that they have against the president is the alleged vote rigging in the 2004 elections (similar to Bush/Gore in 2000). Other issues involve unproven accusations that her family is involved in illegal gambling. Third, many uneducated Filipinos blame her for the rise in gas/oil prices.

The opposition's choices in the 2004 election
Despite all the rumors -- members of the United Nations considered the Philippines 2004 election as democratic and fair despite isolated problems. Contrary to the conspiracy theorists of the "Hello Garci" tapes, the electoral monitors of the international community didn't turn a blind eye to any problem and found the election to be valid.

The opposition found it hard to believe that their choice, Fernando Poe, Jr., was not voted in as the new president. He was a popular actor, with most of his roles played as a hero of the poor. He was gathering tremendous support on his economic policy from the uneducated masses, where he defined how to fix the Philippines economy in three simple words: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. When asked by the business community on how to reduce the nation's debt, he wanted to shrug off all the bonds, much like saying to get rid of credit card debt, just ignore the bills. This was a clear example of how well this former actor grasped economic principles.

The middle class annoyed and balikbayans angry
Throughout the United States, Filipinos are beginning to be annoyed by the idea of people power and rebellion as the answer to the country's problems. The middle class of the Philippines who are considered to be the most influencial and most educated group are simply annoyed. "Rebellion against the government should be the last resort," said Eduardo Federico, a businessman in Manila. "Running and hiding from issues will never resolve anything."

Balikbayans or overseas workers, also annoyed and angry at the stupidity of their fellow countrymen. "We need to mature as a country, we look like fools everytime we disrespect our own civil laws and elected governments," said an anonymous balikbayan.

The ignored majority: Visayas and Mindanao
There are three major island groups of the Philippines: north (Luzons), central (Visayas), and south (Mindanao). The northern part of the country is mainly considered to be the rebellious one -- with all of the previous people power uprisings held in Manila, Luzon. The Visayas and Mindanao regions are largely ignored by politicians and they are now getting weary of Luzon's attempt to be the voice for them. For instance, in Cebu last week, the coup ploys were hardly felt and no tensions were played out against the government.

The central and southern parts of the Philippines has the majority of the population and they have a considerable amount of economic resources. As more corrupted political agendas are being played out in the north by the Manila "elite", many question why Manila is the capitol.

Maturity is the hope of us all
The country is a relatively new democracy founded in the late 1940's. This latest struggle is definitely a test of its democratic maturity. It is the hope of many Filipinos that the country that is so rich in resources can some day learn to be civilized. The true test in this country isn't how well the president can hold on to power, but whether the citizens can be mature enough to learn how to trust.


Cynthia said...

You will likely want to delete this, but you paint a much rosier picture of the Philippines than is the experience of our son and daughter-in-law who live there... and they are conservative Christians, and well-educated... we're hoping that that little family will be safely home in Canada by the summer.

Publisher said...

I cannot vouch for what your son and daughter-in-law experienced. But the Philippines is in a better economical shape than it was when I lived there.

It has better trade policies, better economic growth, more foreign investments, etc. These aren't hopes, but facts. Is it a perfect paradise? Far from it. But it is a young 60 year old democracy compared to Canada's 139 years or USA's 230 years.

The young country still has many things to learn, but the good thing is, there is a middle class that's vouching for stability -- a key component in a capitalistic democracy.