Thursday, June 21, 2018

Duterte's Easter Hypocrisy BY ALLEN GABORRO



POSTED APRIL 12, 2018

In his 2018 Holy Week address, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte waxed piously about how Filipinos can be good and better Christians. His words resounded with the authority one might expect from a virtuous, God-fearing figure: “This is a time to revitalize and renew our relationship with God and our fellowmen...As we reflect on the Catholic values and embody selflessness, compassion and love instilled in us through the years, let us remember to always help and uplift the downtrodden because it is only through charitable actions that we make God’s presence visible among us.”

The poignant language that Duterte reserved for his Easter audience added political value to what otherwise is a disturbing pattern on his part of psychopathic provocation, a doubling down on insults, crass vulgarity, and undeviating intolerance for dissent. While Duterte’s reflective advice has its political advantages, it also gives us a glimpse into his moral hypocrisy. After all, how can man who has publicly called for and applauded the out-and-out murder of thousands without due process of law or for the compassion and love he espouses come across as a credible paragon of humanity?

International human rights groups estimate that up to 12,000 Filipinos have been killed in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign going back to his ascension to office in 2016. What is worrisome in regards to that total are the accusations that Duterte’s government is actively lowballing the number of deaths.

The true number of killed being suppressed by the Duterte regime may never be known. In any case, do the numerical totals really matter as much as the fact that thousands have been gunned down as the concepts of truth and legal due process are violated possibly beyond recognition?

In my head, the numbers of drug war-related deaths don’t register to the same extent as being confronted with the haunting portraits of dead bodies from Duterte’s bloody obsession. When you learn that many of these bodies once belonged to young and impoverished Filipinos who may or may not have been involved in drug use or distribution, you are freighted by an underlying question: is Duterte’s moral rhetoric merely a cover for his immoral actions?

The most empirical answer is no. Preaching from the pulpit is easy, but doing terrible things are even easier. Duterte is well-accustomed to hanging whatever superficial moral strains there are in his political lexicon out to dry whenever he cannot curb his impulsive need for hard, direct measures. Mixed with the rubble of the aftermath of his largely ineffective and detrimental actions is Duterte’s rhetoric which helps legitimize the extreme viciousness of what he has done. However you look at it, Duterte’s moral compass is horribly misaligned with his controversial drug war.

So how does Duterte resolve the chasm between his professed Christian faith and his remorseless, narrow-minded, dead-of-night, drug war killing sprees? The answer is simple: he cannot, not objectively. To bring Christian teachings and the extrajudicial killings together into a neat, cohesive whole is akin to fitting a prickly circle into a smooth square. It cannot be done, nor should anyone try least of all Duterte. Indeed, religious teachings dissolve in the face of the brutal killings which only fortifies my thought that religion is nothing more than a tool for Duterte. It is a tool that allows him to castigate and censure the ensemble of perceived objectionables arrayed against his policies.

Duterte’s adherents take comfort and delight in their leader’s religious articulations. They like to point out that the president’s religious proclivities help form the basis of his power-to-the-people narrative. But Duterte’s purported religious values are as spontaneous as are his mood swings which can bring out the worst in him.

The autocrat Duterte comes out especially when he brainstorms out of anger. His standardized reactions to contrarian opinions or policies cover the spectrum from casual sarcasm to brimming pugnacity. What might be more significantly dangerous is Duterte’s Manichean worldview which reinforces his passion for managing his anti-drug campaign in black-and-white terms. For Duterte, drug dealing and usage are both cause and effect. Therefore, dealers and users must die with no recourse to legal processes, deeper understanding, or Christian charity.

And yet, when it comes to a powerful entity in China, Duterte suddenly embraces pragmatism---his detractors call it “submission” or “kowtowing”---in the face of a stronger adversary. In short, Duterte likes taking the easy way out: kill the weak (low-born drug dealers and users) but be diplomatic and respectful while Beijing’s military might percolates throughout  Philippine territory in the South China Sea undeterred.

Whatever happened to, to use Duterte’s Easter sentiments again, “let us remember to always help and uplift the downtrodden” and to “selflessness, compassion and love?” Duterte doesn’t know or doesn’t really care what being Christian is all about.

ALLEN GABORRO






Friday, May 4, 2018

Standing Where Picasso Stood (2004 poem)



I stood where the great artist once stood, in front of his lithe but poignant fin de si├Ęcle oil painting, "Courtesan with Hat."

I tried to imagine myself in his demiurgic footfalls as he once sketched the outline of a French lady and filled in the colors in his indomitable, unconventional way – as only he could do it.

I pretended I was he, meticulously cobbling together dots and strokes of tint, tone, and pigment to give birth to a whole yet nebulous figure of a nameless woman seamlessly blended in with the flora in the canvas.

My usurping of his lofty role as master artist was like a blast of fresh air; it freed the blocked waters of my creativity and propelled me towards my fate as an aspiring artiste.

But then, out of nowhere, came the misshapen image of "Guernica". It smashed my aesthetic wistfulness, striking me down with the horrors and distortions of war.

The Spanish Civil War, Iraq, Kosovo, Rwanda, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Mindanao, Basilan, all came to mind, tragedies of immense proportions.

Guernica reminds us that each bullet, each shell, each landmine, each massacre induced by those conflicts have destroyed our humanity piecemeal.

Mournfully, I turned away from Picasso’s courtesan, and thought of nothing else but the tortured memory of the orphaned, widowed, and broken-hearted skeletons spawned by those terrible struggles.

I indeed stood where the great artist once stood, with creative admiration in my heart but with tears of blood in my soul.

ALLEN GABORRO

Monday, March 5, 2018

Time to Get Mad: The Latest School Massacre in America BY ALLEN GABORRO


Another day, another massacre in America. Ho hum. Is this what we have to keep reading about in newspapers and seeing on television nowadays? Is this the new normal? Is this what we’ve come down to under Donald Trump and his revolution of chaos and polarization? This is essentially where we are at this point in our already contentious history. With these maddingly-avoidable atrocities, 21st century Americans are exhibiting signs of an oppressive comprehension of a tribalistic, fractious, social media-dominated climate. It is probable too that this climate’s devaluation of propriety and judgment has given a gun-toting minority a distinct political advantage in the corridors of power in Washington D.C. America, once in its humanistic heyday a navigable structure of social and cultural engineering, is morally and physically gutting it out through an environment of rising turmoil. No longer are our precious values or collective democratic identity as Americans being seamlessly passed down to the younger generation. Indeed, it seems there isn’t much room for those shared values and identity anymore.These days, many of the Baby Boomers and the Generation Xers are more likely to make a case to their Millennial heirs that life in America is steadily becoming, to borrow from Hobbes, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. That mortifying reality is increasingly being laid bare what now with the latest American bloodbath in of all places, a Florida high school. High schools, which have always been so much of an indispensable part of our social fabric, were for the most part respected venues of learning and neutral grounds when politics somehow intruded at that level of education. High schools are likewise the last step before the challenge of college studies and expectations and the impressionable self-realization of young adulthood begin to encroach on teenagers’ lives. But sometimes we have been guilty of taking high schools for granted even as they have been the institutions that have guided and educated teenagers during their vital transition from adolescence into their coming-of-age phase. The substance of this submission has trapped many high schools and their students in a twilight zone between protection and vulnerability. That a more pervasive sense of precaution and insecurity has been marked in high schools all across America---not just in high schools but in younger grade schools as well---as a result of mass shootings going back over the last twenty years, is affirmation that the social landscape we live in is under an inordinate amount of duress. Perhaps as much as any other time in America’s social history. It is no longer safe to assume that schools at all levels---along with churches, movie theaters, music concerts, and other common sites of social interaction or recreation---are entirely immune from the worst conflations of mental illness and appalling sociopathy. It’s every bit a travesty of civilization that so many Americans are at risk from the violent pathologies of an alienated few. Yet here we are, well into the Information Age, mired in a world in which millions of our countrymen and women are resisting the evolutionary pull of reason and rationality, so much so that truth and knowledge have been rendered provisional. The powerful depth of feelings and emotions that these massacres summon up is needless to say, completely understandable. Inseparable from these acts of horror are the subsequent waves of grief and sorrow. What tends to follow the emotional devastation is a desperate search for consolation, consolation that will in time bring about a restorative forgetting which is, according to the novelist Milan Kundera, both “absolute injustice and absolute solace at the same time.” Anyone would want to forget a painful past. But while there would be solace in this forgetting as Kundera said, there would also be an injustice to go along with it. The injustice lies in the forgetting for to do so may bring relief but it will also reveal an inability to cope with the past and thus with the future. It is said that we should never live in the past, but at the same time we should never forget it. It was after all, Walter Benjamin who said “Nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history.” From a philosophical point of view, one can take from Benjamin’s quote that the past will help determine the future. In the case of mass murder shootings in America, remembering the troubled past in a constructive light will have salutary effects. Americans do not need more dime-a-dozen expressions of sorrow and compassion by their apathetic, self-serving representatives in Washington. Nor do they need more candlelight gatherings that are studded with flowers and prayers and condolence cards and useless tears which only get them to feel sorry for themselves. That’s the futility of forgetting. Wanting the pain of the mass murders to go away by erasing the memory of it sets the stage for the next American slaughter. The horror and torment of the gun-related heinousness that has afflicted America in the post-Cold War era must always be remembered no matter how difficult that may be. The only way positive change will happen is if people get mad, not sad. The lines and contours and justifications of the gun control argument are clearly drawn for everyone to see. Gun control proponents must not waver or get sidetracked as they publicly act to ensure their children’s safety.
ALLEN GABORRO
 




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sexual Harassment: Righteous Reaction and Righteous Overreaction BY ALLEN GABORRO

To travel through a wormhole to an era where men called all the shots and acted with impunity on surges in testosterone, is to go back to a time where males of all stripes were predisposed to being sexual harassers and predators. In that context, men were expected to be strong, take charge figures, guiding forces for all, roles that women were said to be incapable of fulfilling. 

Looking back from where we are today, the old school cultural ethos then appears to be a quite appalling one. Women for the most part, were in over their heads if they tried to assert themselves whether in the workplace or at home. It suggested that women were by nature the “weaker sex” and thus were living on the disadvantageous side of dominance and oppression. It would take several decades of the 20th and 21st centuries before this gender-stratified relationship was fully acknowledged as such by the wider society.

The historical dominance of men over women struck a nerve with the postmodernist French feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir. In response to the historical oppression of women, de Beauvoir expressed the idea that female identity in a world administered by men is an identity constructed by anyone but females themselves. Out of this, men took it upon themselves to portray women as second-class citizens.

De Beauvoir went on to say that established cultural logic on female identity was faulty, not to mention entrenched in male fear and desire. It became something of a sacred institution for men to spend large chunks of their existence relentlessly pursuing power, possessions, and achievements. De Beauvoir tells us that it was women’s lone priority to assist men in reaching these goals. In factoring in that priority it was understood that women’s status was one of obedience and submission.

The emotional and psychological violence perpetrated against women as manifested by this boys’ club, patriarchal mentality has accumulated to a point where a great sense of urgency has inspired female victims of sexual harassment and abuse to speak out. I’m certain that the torrent of sexual misconduct allegations by the multitudes of victimized females will empower and energize other women in asserting their rights. No longer will women be frightened prey for the worst male sex offenders.

However, there is reason for decent men—men who unequivocally believe in women’s rights and condemn the debauched actions of male sexual assailants—to be uneasy amidst all the sexual harassment charges.

It should be said that the onrush of sexual allegations do not mean that men’s rights are no longer obligatory. Yes, males as a species are responsible for many mistakes and injustices that have been inflicted on women throughout human history. And as a collective whole, we owe it to women to redeem those mistakes and injustices.

Put on notice by the steady procession of sexual allegations, men have to be acutely cognizant of the circumstances they find themselves in with women. Men should remember at all times that there is virtually no margin of error when it comes to suggestive behavior towards women. It goes without saying that men should use common sense and common decency in how they conduct themselves with the opposite sex.

But it is also necessary to raise concerns about the counternotion of “turning the tables on men,” of punishing men as a monolithic bloc rather than only going after the rotten apples. This idea may be more prevalent than one might expect. We must bear in mind that sexual harassment is a supremely sensitive topic right now. For that reason—as the majority of the perpetrators of sexual harrassment up to this point have been men—we as a gender are vulnerable to generalizations that are stuck in the past and to preconceived misinterpretations or misunderstandings.

Not to muddy the moral waters or to mitigate the reprehensible actions of Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, and Roy Moore among others. But I, along with other men, can’t help but feel a little defensive with all the shocking sexual harassment revelations that have come down. While we praise women for coming out with the truth and for standing up for it, we also fear an overreaction in some quarters where men run the risk of being lumped together to a certain degree at least, with the sexual offenders.

To help prevent this from happening, men and women everywhere should conduct a rehabilitative and reflective local and national dialogue on sexual harassment. This will have the cumulative effect of enabling both sexes to acquire a deeper and more thorough understanding of the issue. Such a dialogue would magnify and clarify the reality of sexism and sexism-related abuse and produce new, progressive approaches to dealing with it.

ALLEN GABORRO






Sexual Harassment: Righteous Reaction and Righteous Overreaction BY ALLEN GABORRO


To travel through a wormhole to an era where men called all the shots and acted with impunity on surges in testosterone, is to go back to a time where males of all stripes were predisposed to being sexual harassers and predators. In that context, men were expected to be strong, take charge figures, guiding forces for all, roles that women were said to be incapable of fulfilling. 

Looking back from where we are today, the old school cultural ethos then appears to be a quite appalling one. Women for the most part, were in over their heads if they tried to assert themselves whether in the workplace or at home. It suggested that women were by nature the “weaker sex” and thus were living on the disadvantageous side of dominance and oppression. It would take several decades of the 20th and 21st centuries before this gender-stratified relationship was fully acknowledged as such by the wider society. 

The historical dominance of men over women struck a nerve with the postmodernist French feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir. In response to the historical oppression of women, de Beauvoir expressed the idea that female identity in a world administered by men is an identity constructed by anyone but females themselves. Out of this, men took it upon themselves to portray women as second-class citizens. 

De Beauvoir went on to say that established cultural logic on female identity was faulty, not to mention entrenched in male fear and desire. It became something of a sacred institution for men to spend large chunks of their existence relentlessly pursuing power, possessions, and achievements. De Beauvoir tells us that it was women’s lone priority to assist men in reaching these goals. In factoring in that priority it was understood that women’s status was one of obedience and submission. 

(For Filipinos, we can discern this condescending mentality even among the reformist Propaganda Movement writers in the Philippines of the late 1800’s, an age when liberal ideas from Europe were being disseminated among Filipino intellectuals. Paul Alexander Kramer writes in his 2006 book “The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, & the Philippines” that “Propaganda writers tended to view women as abstractions rather than as agents, passive and vulnerable repositories of virtue in need of protection by active men.”)

The emotional and psychological violence perpetrated against women as manifested by this boys’ club, patriarchal mentality has accumulated to a point where a great sense of urgency has inspired female victims of sexual harassment and abuse to speak out. I’m certain that the torrent of sexual misconduct allegations by the multitudes of victimized females will empower and energize other women in asserting their rights. No longer will women be frightened prey for the worst male sex offenders.

However, there is reason for decent men—men who unequivocally believe in women’s rights and condemn the debauched actions of male sexual assailants—to be uneasy amidst all the sexual harassment charges.

It should be said that the onrush of sexual allegations do not mean that men’s rights are no longer obligatory. Yes, males as a species are responsible for many mistakes and injustices that have been inflicted on women throughout human history. And as a collective whole, we owe it to women to redeem those mistakes and injustices.

Put on notice by the steady procession of sexual allegations, men have to be acutely cognizant of the circumstances they find themselves in with women. Men should remember at all times that there is virtually no margin of error when it comes to suggestive behavior towards women. It goes without saying that men should use common sense and common decency in how they conduct themselves with the opposite sex. 

But it is also necessary to raise concerns about the counternotion of “turning the tables on men,” of punishing men as a monolithic bloc rather than only going after the rotten apples. This idea may be more prevalent than one might expect. We must bear in mind that sexual harassment is a supremely sensitive topic right now. For that reason—as the majority of the perpetrators of sexual harrassment up to this point have been men—we as a gender are vulnerable to generalizations that are stuck in the past and to preconceived misinterpretations or misunderstandings.

Not to muddy the moral waters or to mitigate the reprehensible actions of Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, and Roy Moore among others. But I, along with other men, can’t help but feel a little defensive with all the shocking sexual harassment revelations that have come down. While we praise women for coming out with the truth and for standing up for it, we also fear an overreaction in some quarters where men run the risk of being lumped together to a certain degree at least, with the sexual offenders. 

To help prevent this from happening, men and women everywhere should conduct a rehabilitative and reflective local and national dialogue on sexual harassment. This will have the cumulative effect of enabling both sexes to acquire a deeper and more thorough understanding of the issue. Such a dialogue would magnify and clarify the reality of sexism and sexism-related abuse and produce new, progressive approaches to dealing with it.

ALLEN GABORRO








Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Dreamers



There are approximately 5,000 to 10,000 Filipinos currently residing in the United States who will have to defend their right to remain in the country like never before. This is due to President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to annul the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Firmly rooted in the US since they were considered minors, the “Dreamers” as the DACA aspirants are called, may not be Americans technically speaking. But when skeptical or suspicious others ask who they are, the Dreamers have every other right to call themselves “Americans” for the vast majority of them have been honest, hard-working or studying, law-abiding individuals in the United States.

An empathetic mind cannot blame the Filipino Dreamers for commiserating with Filipino American writer Carlos Bulosan and his experiences as he related them in his Depression-era novel “America Is in the Heart.” Bulosan wrote in the novel, “I feel like a criminal running away from a crime I did not commit. And this crime is that I am a Filipino in America.” It is a disgrace that any Filipino would have to call to mind this sentiment in 21st century America. 

Bulosan’s real-world experiences convinced him that America, both physically and culturally, was virulently and rabidly racist against Filipino immigrants---not to mention against other Asian immigrants---during his time. While there has been great progress in race relations since the Great Depression, much of the racial politics of today is not that far of a cry from that of Bulosan’s milieu. 

Repeatedly making it a point to be an apologist for white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other anti-immigrant movements, President Donald Trump---who Ta-Nehisi Coates has called America’s “First White President”---has twisted the facts on the immigration issue. In a campaign of sheer intellectual dishonesty, Trump has bolstered his “America First” credentials with his obtuse supporters by espousing what he asserts is an unsparing truth: that non-Caucasian immigrants---particularly from right across the border in Mexico---have abused their stay in the United States at the expense of primarily white Americans. Overlaying Trump’s xenophobic perception of reality is a burgeoning racist narrative that reflects the fraught nature of life in America for immigrants. 

We as Americans have not yet been able to flesh out the idea of a post-racial era which was supposed to have begun with the election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama, in 2008. We have not reached a post-racial ethos any more than we have made peace with North Korea. Racism, both in its blatant and subtle forms and expressions, is alive and unfortunately well in 21st century America. Donald Trump has exploited this atmosphere of racial resentment to strengthen and solidify his support among his followers who are hardly the definition of diverse thinking. 

In is within this framework of racism that Trump has influenced his followers into supporting the revocation of the DACA program. The Dreamers did not sign up for being unfairly stigmatized in a country where it was thought that anyone who was willing to study or work hard, obey the laws of the land, and be proud to be Americans---in all intents and purposes if not legally---would be welcome. 

The Dreamers instead find themselves having to justify their place in an ever-changing, increasingly-chaotic America that is seeing an upturn in racist rhetoric and the abasement of immigrants for political purposes. More of the world around us is having less regard for the status of non-European immigrants, not least of all for the Dreamers and the American values they devotedly adhere to. Better to be safe by deporting Dreamers and other immigrants than be sorry by letting them stay and “disrupt society” the anti-immigrant insurrectionists cry out. 

For both Filipino and non-Filipino Dreamers time is running out. Using nativist arguments as a means to drive out immigrants, Trump has given the US Congress only a few months in which to develop a new DACA program that will allow the Dreamers to remain in the US without fear of deportation. In face of the increased risks of displacement, the Dreamers will be on pins and needles until a final decision is made. 

Their worry is that a negative decision will be made by self-serving politicians with no or little consideration for extenuating moral circumstances.

ALLEN GABORRO

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Andres Bautista: A Reflection of the Philippine Elite 's Dysfunctional Relationship with Society


Allow me to preface this piece by stating that I am the first cousin of Patricia Bautista, the estranged wife of Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chief Andres Bautista. Although we are cousins, Patricia and I have not been in touch for several years now although this is not due to any acrimony between us. As fate would have it, we simply drifted apart over the years as can unfortunately happen to familial relations, particularly when they have resided half a world away from each other for most of their lives. 

The fact that Patricia and I are related as first cousins could cause some to question the objectivity of what I have written below. Indeed, some could mistake me for being prejudiced by my blood connection to Patricia for I express views that I will admit, are sympathetic to her and critical of her husband. All I can say to that is, each reader will have to decide for themselves how much they are willing to take to heart and mind from what I have written. If readers cast doubt on my words because of my relation to Patricia Bautista then let that be their conclusion. 

But I happen to believe that everything I have written here has suffered the wrath of my desire to always speak truth to power. The ideal reader should look for reason and logic in my comments and observations and not for glaring lapses of sentimentality for a beleaguered relation. For what it’s worth, I am supporting Patricia’s audacious move as something that is most certainly in the best interests of the Filipino nation. 


*************************************************************************

I have to say that I'm not entirely surprised by the revelations of alleged corruption on the part of Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista. Rumors of his suspected financial malpractice—not to mention the hearsay on what has been described to me as his “compulsive” marital infidelities—have made the rounds over the past few years.

But merely discussing and spreading the rumors about Andres amounted to not much more than the dissemination of unsubstantiated tsimis. In other words, it was always intriguing to talk about the corruption and infidelity speculation, but there was never anything resembling hard evidence to prove either one. That is until now, what with the stunning discovery of suspicious financial documents by Andres’s wife, Patricia (Tisha), in their conjugal home.

Upon hearing the jaw-dropping news, I communicated my support to Tisha by way of Facebook. I told her that I was behind her one-hundred percent in coming forth in front of the media. In the presence of her interviewers, Tisha appeared composed and persuasive enough to convincingly raise the specter of her husband’s financial malfeasance.

Conversely, I knew her skeptics would question Tisha’s motives as they called to mind how tangled and contentious her marriage settlement negotiations with Andy had gotten. Some thought Tisha’s gambit to be a maneuver to extract a fortune from Andy who claimed he had no such fortune. This is an oversimplification in light of everything that has happened.

Whatever her motives were, Tisha did the right thing. She put her well-being, and conceivably her physical safety, on the line by verbally highlighting glaring details of her husband’s purportedly illicit activity. Tisha’s decision goes to show that what I believe is Andy Bautista’s arrogance, perhaps as much as the corruption allegations now besetting him, is what has him in hot water right now. It is a good bet that he never expected his outwardly soft-spoken and mild-mannered wife to rat him out.

Ironically, Andy’s smugness in regards to what he expected of his wife has made all the difference in upending and potentially destroying his professional life and his individual freedom.

One might surmise this arrogance stems from what could be an old-school Filipino attitude on the part of Andy, an attitude about marriage that bestows upon the husband the carte blanche to engage in any sort of sordid escapade he desires while the wife is consigned to the position of the silent, acquiescent bystander.

Having met and conversed with Andy a few times in the past, I was always struck by what I perceived to be his paradoxical disposition: he never failed to display an easy, down-to-earth temperament. But at the same time he evinced a subtle sense of conceit, an allusive air of superiority to anyone he was talking to. After taking these observations into account, we can deconstruct them and discover for ourselves how like a proverbial Machiavellian politician, Andy Bautista has worked his respectable public image so as to shroud the shadier reality behind it.

In a wider context, the Bautista scandal calls attention to the ongoing, dysfunctional relationship that the political and economic elites have had with the rest of Philippine society. Instead of unity and cooperation between the classes, the elite and their equally amoral, hypocritical lackeys—a deplorable list of sycophants and parasites that may include Andres Bautista—have devalued the legacy of national solidarity and consensus that was realized during EDSA I in 1986.

The lofty vision of the AmBisyon Natin 2040 public plan states that by 2040, “the Philippines shall be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor.” However, the way things are looking right now—especially under the murderous Duterte administration—that vision is more likely to be dashed as a result of the unremitting errors of judgment and failure of leadership on the part of the political and economic elite.

The legal predicament Andy Bautista finds himself in is just one of the latest illustrations of the modern, top-heavy structure of corruption, cronyism, and criminality that has crowned Philippine politics and economy since the advent of American colonialism at the turn of the 20th century. Keeping that in mind, the dogged pursuit of justice in the case of Andres Bautista provides no guarantee that it will be served.

But for the millions of Filipinos who have experienced enough shame, guilt, and anger at the hands of the elite in almost complete anonymity, the process of bringing about lasting social justice, empowerment, and accountability in their country will get a huge lift by making sure that with Andres Bautista, any inexcusable misdeeds are dealt with firmly and fairly.

ALLEN GABORRO