October 9, 1999 Inquirer

I was looking for a winner who would not sell out to foreign interests and, in 1998, Joseph Estrada was not only the most likely to win the presidential elections, he also seemed to be the least likely to sell out, going by his vehement No! in 1991 to the continuedpresence of US military bases and US intervention in our economic affairs and, later, his avowed love for the masses.

I thought the No! was rooted in some sense of history and the slogan “Erap para sa mahirap” came from a real and informed bias for the poor. I thought that even if later it were all that could be said of him, it would be good enough, mabuhay si Erap! I even thought his sanggano ways were made to order, perfect for staring down the Americans and bullying them into giving us better terms all around.

Instead, horrors! it’s us, the nation, that he’s bullying around, ramming the VFA down our throats last May, and now fast-tracking changes in the 1987 Constitution that would remove what little protection we have against foreign predators, all in aid of globalization. It’s the mother of all sell-outs and our heroes must be turning in their graves.

My only consuelo (de bobo) is that, had I not voted for Erap, he would have won anyway. Given his popularity with the masses, there was no avoiding or preventing an Erap presidency.

I suppose we are meant to suffer this chapter in our history (the economic and political and intellectual pits) seeing as it is only consistent with, and the logical outcome of, recent chapters that saw the nation opting for a professional housewife, and then a professional soldier, for President, never mind that she was a political neophyte, never mind that he was an intellectual lightweight, we didn’t want anyone too brilliant and sophisticated, not another Marcos for sure.

Well, now we have a professional actor, an intellectual featherweight, reciting a globalist script, which tells us that he is not pala the man of the masses he made / makes himself out to be (artista talaga) but a man for the rich, that is, the business community here and the business cartels abroad.

Times have changed, the President says, since the early nineties when he said no to the US bases — then, we needed to get the Americans out; now, we need to get them (and other foreign investors) back in. It’s the only way, he says, of raising the money for the infrastructure that we need to be globally competitive, which, he promises, would redound to the benefit not of the rich but of the poor.

Unfortunately, the promise is basedon the myth that the gains that free trade and globalization would bring to the business community would trickle down to the masses and improve the quality of their lives. In fact, the trickle-down theory has long been discredited. After four decades of foreign investors and their export-oriented “development plans,” the country has little to show for it other than a few million rich and relatively rich vs. 50 million poor people and a ravaged environment.

Contrary to Erap’s propaganda, Charter change and globalization will not usher in a new economic order that would alleviate poverty by distributing wealth more equitably. It would only (if more intensively and easily) continue with the same economic order, the one dictated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for the US government and its cronies (American transnational corporations), that has been exploiting our natural and human resources all these years for the profit of a privileged minority while marginalizing the majority of Filipinos.

What’s a million or so jobs that globalization might bring when millions and millions of Filipinos are unemployed and under-employed and the population ever increasing? What’s so great about high-tech infrastructure when it’s obvious that only the rich (and some of the middle-class) minority would have any use for most of it?

Anyone who reads, anyone who has a sense of the larger picture, particularly of globalization as an imperialist scheme to keep the United States and the European Community rich and powerful and (countries like) the Philippines poor and beholden, cannot but snort and fume at the President’s agenda and propaganda — twisting things around (just like Marcos used to do) and dismissing anti-chachasectors as either communists or anti-poor.

So what’s Erap really up to, what’s the “hidden agenda”? Many suspect that he’s just paying off political debts, fulfilling promises he made to the businessmen here and abroad who financed his campaign and who would profit from an open economy. As many suspect that he’s after the removal of term limits, which would allow him (or his chosen few) and his multi-extended family to run again and again and again for spurious re-election a la Marcos, with and for the perpetual support of the biggest imperialist of all time, supercop America.

Erap denies it all, of course: the VFA was a done deal, thanks to FVR, and he has no interest in a second term, the job is too stressful. If true, it might also explain why he is in such a desperate rush to open up (down) the economy — at least then, there would be some growth, never mind how limited and skewed in favor of the rich and famous, during his watch. At least he would have something to show for his six years in office, which could, in the final analysis, be all he’s after – to exit in a blaze of glory, never mind who gets burned.

Anything for a rave review. Artista lang kasi.