Transitions (2) | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Transitions (2)

/ 04:20 AM October 18, 2022

May 2022 heralded another transition in our national political administration. I recalled that many among us, including myself, were quite disturbed about the unusual speed in the counting of the votes in our national electoral history. It could be the start of a new beginning—a transition to high-speed internet connectivity, which was not the reality during the previous elections. Many netizens expressed through their social media accounts that it was a highly rigged electoral exercise.

But I could not remember any Philippine election that was popularly perceived to be totally clean, honest, and peaceful. Whether or not the allegations of anomalous electoral practices, including the killing of rival candidates in local polls, are true is no longer a concern for many people, as they have accepted these phenomena as part of the whole exercise. Even the Commission on Elections has identified several parts of the country as election “hot spots,” to refer to locales that tend to record bloody incidents prior to, during, and after the elections. This is a tacit acknowledgment that in this country, elections can signal dangerous transitions from relative peace to active violent conflict. To recall, the infamous Ampatuan (Maguindanao) massacre in November 2009 was one of these violent election-related incidents. It killed 58 people, some of whom were relatives of former Maguindanao governor Toto Mangudadatu, who was then poised to file his candidacy for governor to challenge the incumbent, Andal Ampatuan Jr. Among the massacre victims were local news reporters who accompanied Mangudadatu’s relatives on that tragic trip to Cotabato.


But this year’s electoral transition was quite unnerving. The son of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. became the new president via 31 million votes. As we all know, Marcos Sr. was long vilified for putting the entire country under draconian military rule via Presidential Decree No. 1081, declaring martial law in 1972.

Now, in his more than 100 days as president, Marcos Jr. has shown a “refreshing” transition from his foul-mouthed, street-talking predecessor. The latter has always stirred people’s interest or ire in what he used to say and do as president. Unconventional and irreverent in his pronouncements, the former president oftentimes delivered his speeches in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness way. He never read verbatim the speeches prepared for him, preferring to speak off the cuff, which ironically gained him some popular support and high approval ratings.


Unlike his predecessor, President Marcos Jr. reads every single word of the speeches he delivers. And given the thespian talents he inherited from his equally theatrical maternal unit, he can easily orate like a seasoned public speaker, and make undiscerning audiences rave about his policies of unity and grand plans to make this blighted country rise to a higher middle income one by 2024.

But can he lead the country toward this vision less than two years from now? Perhaps he will; it is still early to tell. But his recent pronouncements make us think otherwise.

Mr. Marcos does not spew vile words in his public pronouncements, and this has even made him more popular. But his popularity might soon dwindle as he continues to spin yarns that easily unravel as expressions of shallow understanding of some broad concepts, like science.

Keynoting the 8th Balik Scientists Convention last week, Mr. Marcos said he is a “frustrated scientist,” and that all his “scholastic career was spent in science.” He added that his late father discouraged him to proceed with a career in science because being a scientist will not make him rich. Then he enumerated some names, presumably his examples of “scientists” who made a lot of money, like American entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. He also mentioned Microsoft, a computer-based company, and Apple, a popular brand of computers. Both Musk and Bezos became billionaires (a collective net worth of $338.1 billion as of 2022). The American-based Forbes magazine labels them not as scientists, but as “technology moguls.” Musk and Bezos may be scientists, but they did not become two of the world’s wealthiest individuals as scientists, but as highly financially motivated businessmen who capitalize on their skills as computer engineers.

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TAGS: Ampatuan massacre, economy, Maguindanao, marcos
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