Filipino people versus GMA

Sta. Ana coordinates Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in the Opinion Section, Yellow Pad Column of BusinessWorld, April 23, 2007  edition, page S1/4.

Let me repeat the line of Action for Economic Reforms in relation to the 2007 elections.  Our colleague Manuel Buencamino has put forward a straightforward slogan, with a powerful message for these elections:  “The Filipino people versus Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).”  The opposition has apparently read Buencamino, and has adopted this line.

We have consistently opposed GMA—her short-sighted  (or transactional) policies, her demolition of our good institutions, her authoritarianism, her illegitimacy.  For all these reasons, we cannot support those who prop up GMA.  We cannot support the GMA candidates, not even Joker Arroyo who has been a friend of many in the broad opposition, including the Left and human rights advocates.

Being a kindhearted fellow, Buencamino would not say bad words about Joker, despite the latter’s passionate defense of GMA, including walking out on the young, goodhearted, and highly principled Patricia Evangelista, just because she asked hard questions.  Said Buencamino in his text message to me:  “Joker was, is, and will always be a better freedom fighter as a private citizen when he has nothing to lose and nothing to compromise.”  We will thus be giving Joker a big favor by not voting for him.

But if not Joker, who?  Not all the candidates of the Genuine Opposition (GO) pass our standard. For instance, I will not vote for former senator John Osmeña, whose record is forever damaged for decreasing, out of pique, the budget of the University of the Philippines, my alma mater.

But the GO has relatively good candidates; at least, they don’t have a Pichay or a Chavit.    And let’s not forget a party worth supporting, never mind its being quixotic—Kapatiran.  Their candidates will lose in these elections, but Kapatiran is a prototype of a good party that can thrive in the future, in a post-bellum, post-GMA period.

For practical reasons, and perhaps influenced by marginalist thinking, I would rank high in my order of preferences Sonia Roco and Koko Pimentel. The surveys show that they are still out of the top 12, but their statistical ranking gives them a fighting chance to enter the winning column.

Roco and Pimentel are steadfastly anti-GMA, they have good platforms, and they don’t have the baggage of a John Osmeña.

But they face great obstacles as the GMA forces zero in on them precisely because they are in a position to win.

Unfortunately, too, some quarters, have criticized Roco, Pimentel and Alan Peter Cayetano for being part of a “political dynasty.” We can debate about the dictionary, even legal, definition of political dynasty. But what really has to be condemned is the use of guns, goons, gold, and Garci—which the likes of Roco et al don’t have—to  build and maintain a dynasty.

Besides, we elect someone based on individual merit, record and platform, not on the basis of his being the spouse or child or a politician.  Hence, Erin Tañada and Sonny Angara deserve to be reelected as members of the House of Representatives not because they come from a political clan but because they have proven to be principled politicians.  They were among the few congressmen who called for GMA’s impeachment.

The GMA propagandists would use every opportunity to discredit the good anti-GMA candidates.

Roco was likewise the victim of a smear campaign for her inadvertent use of the word “autistic.”  In a television interview, Roco described the GMA administration as being “autistic” for refusing to accept the reality that its candidates are losing based on the outcomes of independent surveys.

Indeed, in a propaganda war, her statement can be taken out of context.  It can be twisted to mean that Roco is insensitive to children suffering from autism.

Be that as it may, Roco has apologized, and that should be the end of the story.

But a pro-GMA columnist in a pro-GMA newspaper wanted to exploit the story further to attack Roco.

It was proper for Roco to apologize even as she did not mean to degrade autistic people. But I wish to point out that what Roco said was a manner of speaking, and in an objective sense, her choice of the word was used in an apt context.

The Neurological Encyclopedia describes autism as  “a behavior disorder, characterized by an impairment in social communication, social interaction, and social imagination.”  Thus defined, Roco was merely saying that the administration’s refusal to see reality and accept the results of scientific surveys betrays its ”impairment in social communication and social imagination.”

There is a group called the post-autistic economics network, and their journal is called Post-Autistic Economic Review.  Those involved in this network are progressive economists, and they will always defend the weak and the vulnerable, including those suffering from autism.  But what do they mean by post-autistic economics?
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I cut and paste a portion of an essay titled Post-Autistic Economics, written by Deborah Campbell (for more info, visit the website: www.paecon.net):

The university-aged children of France’s ruling class ought to have been contentedly biding their time. They were, after all, destined to move into the high-powered positions reserved for graduates of the elite École Normale Supérieure (ENS). “The ENS is for the very good students, and the very good students aren’t afraid to ask questions,” says Sorbonne economist Bernard Geurrien.

In Spring 2000 he addressed a conference on the disconnect between mainstream neoclassical economics instruction and reality. Economics has an ideological function, he told them, to put forth the idea that the markets will resolve everything. In fact, he added, economic theory absolutely doesn’t show that.

A group of economics students, their worst fears confirmed, approached Guerrien eager to “do something.” A week later, 15 of them gathered in a classroom to hash out a plan of attack. Someone called the reigning neoclassical dogma “autistic!” The analogy would stick: like sufferers of autism, the field of economics was intelligent but obsessive, narrowly focused, and cut off from the outside world.

By June, their outrage had coalesced into a petition signed by hundreds of students demanding reform within economics teaching, which they said had become enthralled with complex mathematical models that only operate in conditions that don’t exist. “We wish to escape from imaginary worlds!” they declared. Networking through the internet and reaching the media through powerful family connections, they made their case.

“Call to teachers: wake up before it’s too late!” they demanded. “We no longer want to have this autistic science imposed on us.” They decried an excessive reliance on mathematics “as an end in itself,” and called for a plurality of approaches.

With that, ‘autisme-économie,’ the post-autistic economics (PAE) movement, was born.

End of cut and paste.

Ok, let’s not call the GMA administration “autistic.” Let’s just say that this administration has a “behavioral disorder,” and it wants to impose on us an “imaginary world.”  Unfortunately, this imaginary world is hell.

The May 2007 elections provide a way for us toward escaping from this imaginary world, this enchanted kingdom. Remember the slogan for the elections: the Filipino people versus GMA.

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