Timebound

The latest news from Pulse Asia quickens the, ah, pulse. A solid majority of Filipinos has resoundingly rejected any repeat of martial law: "nearly seven in 10 Filipinos (67 percent) do not see the need to impose martial law despite the many political and economic problems plaguing the country at the moment."

Only one caveat: That particular "moment" was two months (and one impeachment initiative) ago. The survey was conducted from July 2 to 14, way before Congress threw out the impeachment complaints against the President, and before Ermita and then GMA unsheathed the sword of calibrated preemptive response.

In fact, the news about the public’s "latest" sentiment regarding military rule already came out in the papers (in August, I think).

Nothing wrong with a survey firm re-releasing previous results in a timely fashion, of course. But we must realize that the results are time-bound too. It may well be that public opposition to strong-arm tactics has risen since then; but to be completely fair, it is also incumbent on us to consider another possibility: that it has gone down since. Two months is a long time in politics.

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4 Comments

Filed under Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

4 responses to “Timebound

  1. manuelbuencamino

    I think I found the reason for people’s “apathy”, you know, their seeming passivity and reluctance to hit the streets.

    I think people are waiting for the Arroyo regime to self-destruct.

  2. Jojo

    Hi John, here’s the puzzle. How would these poll survey results showing majority of Filipinos opposed to martial law jibe with an earlier poll survey putting the diktador Marcos way ahead of Pres. Arroyo? Is it possible that those surveyed Filipinos today really know nothing about martial law? Or that they associate martial law with some of the autocratic faux pas of the Arroyo regime?

  3. Manuel, I was struck by the last line in Glenda Gloria’s Q&A with Reli German, the PR expert who’s now working for GMA. Asked what would cause Arroyo’s downfall, he replied: “Another major scandal, another real scandal.” (The interview is at http://partners.inq7.net/newsbreak/istories/index.php?story_id=51333)

    The opposition may see that as an invitation to a beheading, but it can also be read as an administration struggling under the weight of one “real scandal” too many. If it collapses under its own weight, that would qualify as self-destruct, wouldn’t it?

    Hi, Jojo. You ask the sharpest questions! I’ve decided to welcome them, in part, as necessary toughening for the forums I attend on behalf of the paper. Well, here goes nothing. Reading some of the details of the July survey (http://www.pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/PulseAsia-Sept27.pdf), I am led to conclude that 1) Many of the less educated ones (defined in the survey as “those with at best an elementary education”) may not know as much about the brutal reality of martial law as those with a college education do, and 2) Quite a number of the older ones who do remember what it was like to live under military rule have turned memory into nostalgia! Else, how explain the finding that one-third of those aged 65 and up think military rule is the best possible answer to today’s many problems?

  4. Jojo

    Hi John: My sense is that for the younger generation and “those with at best an elementary education” the image of martial law may be limited to the perceived abuse of presidential power by GMA and the clear involvement of the AFP in trapo politics. The other representations of martial law — the technocrats, the opulence of Imelda, and the massive anti-insurgency campaigns of the AFP starting with the war against the MNLF — are less known because they are not as highlighted as before. There is, for example, no account yet of the Mindanao separatist wars themselves (Marites’s and Glenda’s book is comprehensive but it still just skimmed the surface). Except for the documentary on Imelda, media and academic reminders of her opulence are often intermittent and unsustained. Of course, very much like the Indonesians, there is nostalgia for the technocratic developmentalism of the Marcos era, but very little continued reminder (again) of its excesses and corruption.

    Academia bears responsibility here: it is the 21st century but we still have no textbook on Philippine politics in the same scope and breadth as Teodoro Agoncillo, Renato Constantino and even Gregorio Zaide in history. But even the history textbooks only treat the Marcos era superficially. Filipino sociology is underdeveloped and while there was an attempt at pushing for a Sikolohiyang Pilipino, it remains apolitical and depoliticized. And we are only talking here about the college level. It scares me actually to take a peek at what kind of history and politics is being taught at the high school and even elementary levels.

    Hence, this selective memory….I think.

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