The country is again at a crucial juncture in its history. It cannot afford to waste this opportunity at moving forward by finally being rid of the Marcos-Aquino narrative which has divided it since 1986. The time has come for a Philippines narrative that prioritizes the national interest over those of the few who rule over politics and the economy.
So said the President in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22.
He's not actually the first to state the obvious as Antonio Luna did so when he was in a feud with Pedro Paterno and Felipe Buencamino. Emilio Aguinaldo sold out to the Spaniards in the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. Bonifacio and his brothers were the first casualties in the leadership struggle among Filipino revolutionaries. Luna and his loyal aides followed after the tandem of Paterno and Buencamino emerged triumphant against him.
The political dysfunction of the Filipino continues to the present. America never granted true independence to its former colony. Instead it teamed up with the elite composed of the busiensmen and politicians to continue its hold over the country. Effectively, Filipinos were colonized by their own countrymen.
The selling out of the Philippines became standard practice. The Philippine government settled with Japan in the amount of $800M for war reparations when the actual assessment was for $8B. The Americans could've pushed the Japanese to settle for the realistic figure but didn't. The fact that the economy was still closely dependent on the US resulted in the lack of funds to rebuild infrastructure destroyed during the war.
It was only when Marcos was elected President in 1965 that there was a focus on rebuilding what was destroyed and building new infrastructure that was needed by the country with its growing population. Marcos' ouster in 1986 resulted in the democratization of everything including graft and corruption and the political divisiveness into more politicking. Thirty years wasted in what could've been an opportunity for the Philippines to become as progressive as its ASEAN neighbors because every important aspect vital to growth was neglected - infrastructure, agriculture, politico-social reforms and peace and order were set aside as politicking took precedence. There was a wholesale failure of the opposition to Marcos to deliver on their promises to build a better nation.
The record of the President in the first half of his term with regard to corruption has also been mixed. While he has fired those who have been tainted by his standard of a whiff, only a few have been charged and none have been convicted. But again to those who have a pragmatic view of his Presidency, it is still an improvement over his predecessor who ended his term with his original Cabinet intact.
Duterte is a hard politician to read because of his patent unpredictability. While no mention was made of a push for Federalism in his SONA, the campaign promise has hope of being fulfilled as the DILG has publicly stated that it will be pursued. Congressmen have filed four resolutions at the House of Representatives. House Concurrent Resolution 1 (HCRN1), filed last July 1 by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, House Joint Resolution 4 (HJRN4), filed July 11 by Rep. Aurelio Gonzales and Resolution of Both Houses 1 (RBH1), filed July 15 by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez; and Resolution of Both Houses 2 (RBH2), filed July 18 by Velasco. The change to a federal or an autonomous system of governance would be the first step in the political restructuring of government which would be a marked improvement over the present setup.
It's been seventy-three years since Philippine "independence" in 1946 and would be seventy-six years come 2022 when the President ends his term. The country is again at a crucial juncture in its history. It cannot afford to waste this opportunity at moving forward by finally being rid of the Marcos-Aquino narrative which has divided it since 1986. The time has come for a Philippines narrative that prioritizes the national interest over those of the few who rule over politics and the economy.
It is time to put the Philippines and Filipinos first.