#EDITORIAL | In the spirit of democracy

by The Science Scholar

“As students, we know and feel that our nation has not been ‘great again’ but has only plunged deeper into a social crisis.” — The Science Scholar, Sep.–Oct. 1971 issue.

With the tallying of election returns, results showed a Philippines that voted overwhelmingly for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Supporters of the opposition cited the incompetence and bias of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) as a reason for the dubious results, claiming that a Marcos win would have been acceptable had the vote-counting been clean. But cries for a clean voting system are not enough — not when the elections have already been rigged in the Marcoses’ favor since even before campaigns started.

In his last message to voters before the 2022 elections, Marcos exclaimed: “‘Wag po nating hayaang ito’y muling nakawin sa’tin.” (We should not allow [our vote] to be stolen from us again.) As petty and delusional as it may seem, the choice of words was deliberate. It was but another deception in the Marcoses’ tangle of lies, in a narrative years in the making. Once the 2016 elections showed his loss in his bid for vice president, the infamous Marcos machinery sped up its ever-turning gears; and they have never slowed down since.

Social media’s influence is critical, and with Facebook and Tiktok being among the most popular platforms by internet users in the Philippines, it is no surprise that the Marcoses exploited their reach. Evidence of troll farms emerged, with journalists and individuals alike pointing out the unusual behavior of many pro-Marcos social media accounts. Through these disinformation networks, the Marcoses continued their quest to clean their name and breed a false sense of “majesty” to the Martial Law era, hailing it the “Golden Age of the Philippines.”

Yet, the manipulation of the truth is nothing new to the Marcoses. Their machinery has long been modeled this way; and for the gears to not have corroded after even more than half a century is a testament to the chronic systemic failure of our democracy.

It should not be forgotten that the Marcoses never work alone. Recent photos of the presumptive president celebrating his ongoing win with known tycoons and oligarchs have also surfaced, proving once again that the Marcos machinery is well-oiled and backed by elite families.

Beyond these magnates, political dynasties have also supported the Marcoses, whether through explicit endorsements or complicit behavior. President Rodrigo Duterte allowed Marcos Sr. a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, facilitating the incorrect belief that the former dictator deserved the title of Philippine hero despite the atrocities he had committed during his 21-year reign. It’s undeniable that Duterte, who is also a member of a powerful dynasty, was involved in the Marcoses’ deceptions.

At the end of the day, the Marcos family is just one among the country’s countless political dynasties — families that see government office not as an extension of service but as max-profit careers; those who keep high-ranking positions within themselves to lengthen their hold on political power and subsequently, the people’s taxes. Corruption is inherent to these politicians; it is simply what happens when a position earned becomes birthright.

What furthers this corruption is the seeming lack of preventive provisions in our constitution and laws. Although the 1987 Constitution explicitly prohibits political dynasties in Article II Section 26, it has not been enacted. Given that it is not self-executing, congress still needs to define the terms and penalties for such a law. But of course, the congress’s internal dynasties will not allow for such an act to be passed, as evidenced by the lack of movement surrounding the filed Anti-Political Dynasty bill.

And when the law fails, the rest follow.

Unfortunately, the COMELEC is one such glaring instance. By dismissing two sets of substantial cases raised against Marcos’s run for presidency, they have already neglected their duty to the Filipino people. But it is no surprise that a known tax evader slipped through the cracks when the COMELEC commissioners are appointed not only by Duterte but also by clear Marcos supporters. The independence and objectivity of these supposedly non-partisan watchers cannot be ensured when they have been installed by politicians driven by ulterior motives. Now where does that leave the people?

In such crucial times, when government institutions fail, the people should be able to fulfill their democratic duties. But it is often overlooked that the people’s foundation of truth and citizenship has been compromised since the beginning. Education should be liberation; instead, it has become a privilege, keeping many Filipinos from the tools needed to dissect the disinformation peddled heavily these days.

Furthermore, education has also become weaponized. Even those who are able to study are taught a watered-down and distorted version of our history. After all, politicians, including the ruling class they represent, have a vested interest in hiding the skeletons in their closet. With errors and crimes of public figures omitted from the textbooks, the incapability of students to recognize patterns of exploitation and corruption has become a damning inevitability — and the country is all the worse for it.

This election and its aftermath mark the tipping point of our country’s democracy. If we do not act now, it may be unbearably harder for us to recover.

We must start with the imprisonment of the Marcoses. Beyond Imelda Marcos’s seven counts of graft, Imee Marcos’s culpability in the death of Archimedes Trajano, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s tax evasion cases, the family’s active participation in Marcos Sr.’s Martial Law should have been enough reason to indict them. Although incarcerating the family will not single-handedly stop the political dynasties within our countries, it will send the message that even the elite are not above the law. Those who wronged our democracy will be held accountable.

The crimes of this dynasty, their cronies, and the oppressive elites must no longer be glossed over but instead, emphasized in our history. The knowledge of our past must facilitate better education so that we may be less susceptible to false information.

These are not suggestions, but demands. We, the Filipino people, cannot and should not settle for any less. And if we are denied these as we continuously have been, then we must fight back.

The ultimate right we have left in our democracy is the right to protest, to insist our voices be heard, to speak. Now, more than ever, we must exercise it. More than just a political dynasty, the Marcoses represent the disease that’s slowly killing our democracy — our fight is not just against them, but for the Philippines.

Democracy is power to the people. May every living and dying breath honor that right.

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The official English-language publication of the Philippine Science High School–Main Campus.

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The Science Scholar

The Science Scholar

The official English publication of the Philippine Science High School–Main Campus. Views are representative of the entire paper.

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