How do we emotionally come to terms with Marcos Jr.’s win?

‘We need to guard the Constitution and, therefore, the rule of law, more than any single individual. Marcos Jr. must not be allowed to tamper with the Constitution.’

I was with the millions at EDSA People Power and do not relish a Marcos Jr. The presidency, not only because of its symbolic nature but also because of Marcos Jr.’s lack of competence.

If you did your part in preventing a Marcos comeback, then you’ll find the election outcome to be disheartening, as it is for me.

How do we emotionally come to terms with it? First, let there be no anger in our hearts, not toward those who voted for Marcos and not toward the man himself. Anger will only cloud our thinking. Let’s take our cue from Leni, who has remained calm.

Second, we may be disappointed, but let’s not give in to disillusionment. Rather, let’s look at the situation as objectively as possible.

A huge propaganda machine was unleashed many years ago to sanitize the Marcos family name and package Marcos Jr. as a nice, approachable guy. At the same time, there has been a massive and relentless disinformation campaign against Robredo, who has been depicted as weak, proud, and incompetent. There was no level playing field, and Leni was fully aware of the forces against her. In such a scenario, we hoped for the best but also needed to be realistic. It was a lopsided fight, and the results bear this out.

The election outcome is the fruit of the disinformation campaign. Are the results fraudulent? Perhaps. The irregularities must be investigated, and the integrity of the election must be affirmed. However, the election results also confirm more or less the trends seen in Pulse Asia’s polling, giving us reason not to lend credence to conspiracy theories.

We can’t blame our fellow Filipinos for taking a different political position from us; that is their democratic right. We also can’t blame them for believing myths and illusions, especially given their limited incomes and resources which constrain their perspective — just as our own socioeconomic standing colors our view of the world. Let it be clear. Our battle is against the purveyors of falsehoods. The even larger battle is against poverty and our deplorable education system. That is the context of our flawed electoral exercises, exacerbated by the absence of genuine political parties. The enemy is the larger context: poverty, inadequate education, and morally bankrupt political elites. These problems feed on each other. Battling them will require several generations.

There is another enemy: our authoritarian culture and lack of appreciation for democratic values. Studies show that Filipino parenting style is highly authoritarian. Children are thus socialized into authoritarian practices. Not surprisingly, they grow up with no appreciation for democratic dialogue and will go for strongman rule. This is another big challenge, although it is encouraging that many young people stepped up and sacrificed for Leni’s democratic cause.

What we need to build are strong and stable institutions. In this light, we can take comfort in the fact that elections even happen. Thanks to People Power, at least we no longer have a dictator for life. And we don’t need to have a civil war to decide the national leadership.

Even Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a beneficiary of the People Power Constitution, which allowed him to run and win. Unknown to him, he can save victory because People Power occurred in 1986 — a tacit admission of the dictatorship that was brought down in this manner. In fact, there were suggestions to ban Marcos family members from ever assuming public office in the post-dictatorship period, but the lack of vindictiveness (and foresight?) stopped the framers of the Constitution from including that provision. Marcos’s election win does not obliterate People Power but is a recognition of it, even if burying the ghosts of 1986 might have been his intention.

Thus, we need to guard the Constitution and, therefore, the rule of law, more than any single individual. Marcos Jr. must not be allowed to tamper with the Constitution.

Let me end by focusing on Marcos Jr. We can only speculate what’s on his mind. Is he joyful? Is it in his character to face and hurdle challenges? The reality is that the elections might have brought his family back to Malacañang, but it is not yet their full vindication. He has a heavy burden to carry. For the sake of the country, let’s hope he will have solid achievements. But his mistakes, which we hope will be few, may tarnish the family name. He has sought to rescue, and Alibis may not be easy to find. The people who voted for him have high and even unrealistic expectations. Can he meet those expectations? What happens if he can’t? What happens if he can’t cope with the burdens and challenges of the state? Let’s watch and pray. – Rappler.com

Filomeno V. Aguilar Jr. is professor in the Department of History and Project Director at the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), both in the School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University.

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