How can we be apolitical?
“I really hate politics. But with all the injustices, violation of the Constitution and human rights, greed of political dynasties and their buffoons, unabated poverty, how can we be apolitical?”—Imelda Cajipe Endaya, visual artist
Yes, how can one be a mere bystander, tempting though that position can be? I can imagine myself, if I were living in a real democracy, focused on just cleaning my brushes, lining up my paints, doodling with pen and ink, happily dribbling paint on canvas and thinking how blessed I am to be doing something I love.
But as Cajipe Endaya pointedly asked in a Facebook status, how can we be apolitical with what is going on? How can one say there is justice when one sees one of the grandest thieves of all time, Imelda Marcos, “bejeweled and puffed up” (in the description of poet Mila D. Aguilar), thumbing her nose at the rhyming and alliterative public cry of “Imelda Iselda”?
The former first lady is being given the kid gloves’ treatment by those authorized to arrest, fingerprint her and put her behind bars for charges of graft. Meanwhile, at around the same time, a National Democratic Front negotiator like Vicente Ladlad is paraded in handcuffs and charged with the usual illegal possession of firearms. And this shoddy treatment is for his being a peace and social justice advocate?
Some said that one of our biggest political mistakes was letting the Marcos family return to the country. If my memory is correct, they were allowed in from their comfortable exile in Hawaii just to bury their patriarch and to stay within Ilocos Norte.
But look at them now. It seems they never left, and they’re everywhere. Some who are blinded by this nefarious family’s celebrity status are not beneath taking selfies and group-fies with them. In other parts of the world, they would be spat at.
Others say that the United States should not have intervened at the height of the 1986 People Power Revolution when the protesters were inching their way to Malacañang, and should have let justice take its course. Instead, the US spirited them away to a cushy exile.
“Hang them high!” Some had said this during those frenzied four days of liberation. It would’ve served as moral lesson to those who came after and would dare use public money as pelf, and would arrest, imprison, maim or kill the resisters of a dictatorship.
But how can one carry one’s head high in the world if the current President, the “pore-infested, darkened Duterte” (again Aguilar’s description) naps at—and thus absents himself from—international summits instead of doing his duty to push for the country’s economic wellbeing?
Truly, this high-flying Chief Executive found a poor excuse to recharge his body at the taxpayers’ expense. Who wouldn’t clench his or her teeth at this?
This man, who has made possible the return to power of another plunderer, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, seems to be a figure straight out of a Greek tragedy. One imagines Pandora’s box being opened and Mr. Duterte letting loose all evils incarnate in this already pitiful country. Even the judiciary, which is under his grip, allowed the release of the shrewd former senator Juan Ponce Enrile from jail.
Who can one turn to for justice? Or does one just shrug and say, “Just tiis” (exercise extreme patience)?
I’d like to console Cajipe Endaya by telling her that politics is not something to be despised. Yes, there are venomous politicians in our midst, and they get more media mileage. But for every snake in the grass, there is a principled politician somewhere. Recall when the Senate majority voted to kick out the US bases from the country—a proud moment there.
The time is ripe to put a Diokno and a Tañada back in the Senate. Not so much for their illustrious names, but for what they have come to represent—an honest concern for human rights and social justice, something they apply in dealing with the marginalized.
It’ll take beyond our lifetime to correct this political system, but for so long as we hold the direct vote that puts people in power, let us not waste it. Let us use every means to help remove the blinders from other voters, they who can be swayed by guns, goons, gold. In Pandora’s box, there is something knocking and waiting to be released—Hope.
Elizabeth Lolarga is a full-time granny nanny in Baguio. She has an ongoing joint exhibit with Sinag de Leon, “Paper and Paint,” at Gourmet Gypsy Art Café in Quezon City. The show runs until Jan. 8, 2019.
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