NOTE: Of the many feedback that I got from my Bicol Mail column last week (June 30, 2022), I am reprinting below Rolly Borjal’s comments that he posted on Facebook. Mr. Borjal graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University. He worked for years at a venture capital company as a corporate secretary before he retired. An avid observer of Philippine politics, his analysis of the current political situation under the new administration of President Bongbong Marcos Jr is a combination of in-depth reflection and understanding of how politics is complex. Yet, he is able to break down something that is complex into simple and easy-to-understand concepts. His feedback is a must read.
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My friend, classmate and kinakapatid Greg Castilla, writing in his column in Bicol Mail, is generous enough to give BBM slack and hopes that BBM would turn different from his father and lead the nation to economic prosperity. Unfortunately, I cannot share his guarded optimism. With the gargantuan sovereign debt and the very sorry state of the national economy, the Marcos Jr. regime will struggle mightily on the economic front, considering that BBM does not really have a cogent economic plan and lacks expert knowledge on economic matters. The problems will be exacerbated by the effects of a deteriorating global economy.
But, Greg would be justified in his hope that BBM would be different from his father. BBM cannot and will not be a strongman. Unlike his father, BBM does not fully control all the governmental institutions. Since he did not win the election on his own merit, but did it with the help of the other thieving political dynasties (the UniThieves), he has to appoint officials who are loyal to the other camps. Duterte’s Guevarra (OSG) and Calida (COA) have already been put in place. GMA, Villar and Estrada will demand their own shares. Even within the Marcos camp, there will be power plays. The First Lady, Lisa Araneta-Marcos, and Sen. Imee Marcos will have their own separate spheres of influence within the regime. So, instead of a strongman like Marcos Sr., Marcos Jr. will be a weak leader, not only because of his lack of exceptional personal qualities, but also because of the circumstances surrounding his rise to power.
Speaking of strongmen, one lesson that most Filipinos have not learned is that strongmen are not messiahs. We had two strongmen, Marcos Sr. and Rodrigo Duterte, and both brought us nothing but misery. Most Filipinos are attracted to the quest for a Filipino Lee Kuan Yew who would lead the country to the First World. But, they must understand that a strongman’s strength comes from the barrel of a gun. Without his guns, a strongman is a pussycat. So, strongmen are necessarily fascistic and authoritarian. Marcos Sr. had his Martial Law and Duterte had his Operation Tokhang. A strongman governs by fear and intimidation. Once the people have been sufficiently terrorized and cowed, he is free to do whatever he wants. With absolute power in his hands and billions, now trillions, of pesos at his disposal, absolute corruption follows. These are the lessons of Marcos Sr. and Rodrigo Duterte. But, as Greg points out in his column, the election of Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte does not look like Filipinos have learned their lessons. They have been doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. The very definition of insanity.
Rita Mae Brown, the mystery novelist, in her 1983 book “Sudden Death,” wrote, “Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said,’Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’”
Now, you have learned a lesson: it was not Albert Einstein who said it.