Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent State of the Nation Address brought to the public’s attention the leaders of protest rallies in the country. A lot of people have noticed that some of those who organise rallies against incumbent Presidents have been the same people doing it for decades. Members of the public are simply tired of seeing the same faces year after year. It is proof that they don’t make a difference at all and that these people cannot seem to find real jobs. They seem averse to the idea of being productive members of society.
Take the case of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) group leader Renato Reyes. He has been accused of profiting from his role in organising rallies. He doesn’t seem to have a permanent job outside of his rally life. He has admitted to joining rallies since he was 16 years old while he was still in college. He certainly doesn’t look like he is only in his 20s now. As a matter of fact, he has been at the forefront of protest rallies even before former President Gloria Arroyo came to power. His life goal is “to serve the people as long as Satur Ocampo, Carol P Araullo, Joma Sison, Fidel Agcaoili, Judy Taguiwalo”. One has to wonder which people he is talking about. Not everyone subscribes to their views. Not everyone wants to topple the government and install their brand of governance.
Renato and his kind epitomise the saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. I mean, what the hell is their group’s agenda anyway? They use the same slogan against the sitting President and call them “Tuta ng America”. They even accuse Duterte of being one even though the President has been openly criticising and cursing the US and some Americans.
The BAYAN group is said to be aligned with the communist movement. So one can be forgiven for saying that the group will not be happy unless the country is under communist rule. They are against the alignment of the Philippines with the United States, which they view as imperialist. But it is quite ironic that these people use the same technology developed in the US. They probably even use their iPhones and MacBook pros during their “meetings”.
You will find that some members of these groups were actually educated abroad and are sons and daughters of elite members of Philippine society. They once lived decadent lives, but, perhaps, became bored with their lack of direction, claimed to have turned their backs on their previous lifestyle, and joined the communist movement as some kind of “adventure”. These are what you call misguided folks who still believe in the theory that all property ought to be owned by the community instead of private citizens who worked hard to acquire and develop these. Of course at the backs of their heads they can still go back to their nice homes once the thrill of hiding from the law become boring for them too. The poor members of their advocacy group do not have that luxury though.
Those who subscribe to the theory of communism are akin to moochers and freeloaders. They think they are entitled to other people’s hard-earned money. They think it is not fair that some people are rich and are enjoying a comfortable life while others live in squalor. To them, rich people should be held responsible for everyone else’s welfare. But, really, there is only so much rich people can do particularly when the poor keep multiplying like rabbits.
Interestingly, Joma Sison, one of Reyes’s idols and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines currently lives quite comfortably in the Netherlands while his comrades do the hard work for him. Members of his party wreak havoc in some parts of the Philippines extorting money from legitimate businesses and producers. They also kill members of the police and military who get in their way. It is quite baffling that politicians like Senator Risa Hontiveros consider him a “hero” when he inspires his followers to commit violence and destabilise the government. People like Hontiveros seem to be harbouring criminals while enjoying the perks of being in government. She should be considered an enemy of the state. These people are full of contradictions.
Groups like BAYAN and other left-leaning movements follow Reyes’s template of blaming the government for the poor’s misery. Previous governments as well as the present one may have neglected their duties, sucked the coffers almost dry, and allowed the decay of public infrastructure, but that doesn’t give license to some “poor” people to feel entitled to receive doled-out food, money and shelter just because they are poor. This is exactly what Members of the militant Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) had in mind when they took over ownership of the government housing units in Bulacan.
After Duterte gave them the housing units they forcefully took from the government, they wanted more. They now demand that more housing units be given to them. This is a classic case of biting the hand that feeds you. The problem in this kind of situation is that it is promoting mendicancy. When is it going to end? The more you give, the more some people expect that they are entitled to what hard working citizens have.
Where do these poor people get their mendicant ideas? Well, they get them from leaders of groups like Bayan, Anakpawis and Kadamay whose members teach the poor what to think, what to say, and what to ask the government for. The leaders of these groups take advantage of the poor people’s gullibility and desperation. The leaders of these groups know that they only need to give them a little incentive like free food and drinks to join their causes and rallies. Their main agenda is to blackmail the government into giving them what they want lest they continue to hold protest rallies depicting the one government official or the other — including the President himself — of being neglectful; as if the President and his government are the only ones responsible for other people’s welfare.
So far, protesters are lucky that Duterte seems to have socialist ideals. He is very accommodating to them. He even talked to them after his SONA outside of the Senate halls. But these protesters are very impatient. They think Duterte has the power to take public funds easily and use these to respond to their demands. They are unrealistic and irrational. The productive members of society – those who pay taxes should have a say on where their money should be spent.
One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand why protest leaders like Reyes fail to make a difference in Philippine society after all these years. Their idea of “progress” is taking from other people who work hard and giving it to those who work less. It’s a concept that is not sustainable. Those who work hard will have less motivation to work hard when they see their money going to people who hardly appreciate what is given to them. For how can someone appreciate something that was given under fear of emotional blackmail? People must do their share in nation building. The people who work hard to earn a living must not be punished for those who choose to be burdens to society.