‘Better Noynoy than Binay’: The culture of substandard politics in the Philippines

Imagine you are one of the survivors of typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) in the Eastern Visayas during the first few days after the storm. Your house, farm animals, crops, fishing boat, and many of your relatives have been swept away by the storm surge. You don’t know where to begin: search for your missing family members, bury the dead, search for food and drinkable water, clear your lot of debris, etc.

Amidst all the misery, here comes the government, in the form of a team of government employees aboard a truck. They start throwing off relief packs, and despite a mini-stampede, you get away with one. You eagerly open the pack, only to find that the bigas is already rotten, the food items requiring utensils to cook (despite having all of your possessions carried away by the sea), and all of them enough for only two to three meals.

Now, tell me if you are not pissed off. Because I’m sure you are. Imagine that Atom Araullo arrives in your community and interviews you. Despite your best efforts to be polite, you really let the government have it.

Finally, imagine that someone from Metro Manila has just arrived in your place and tells you that you are ungrateful, that you should be thankful that someone even bothered to help you.

That, my friends, is the logic of people who say that we shouldn’t oust Noynoy because Binay will replace him.

Why?

First of all, are you a human being? If yes, then congratulations, you have human rights. The idea of human rights was developed by some people a really long time ago. It goes something like this: we are supposedly ‘better’ than mosquitoes (pretty sure there aren’t any mosquito rights activists around). Thus, we should not be treated like them, like being swatted and squashed simply because we annoy other beings.

Those are human rights: a set of rules, for lack of a better term, that guarantees we are treated better than mosquitoes

So what does this have to do with Noynoy and Binay?

The problem with many Filipinos is that they measure the performance of each president and administration by comparing them with each other. It’s like the curving rule of teachers when grading students. If in a class of 15 students, 14 got zero in an exam, then the lone pupil who scored five would seem like a genius. But the fact that the entire class did not meet the school’s standards would be missed.

And that is the role human rights serve: as the standards for measuring how effectively a President and his administration has done their job of serving their constituents. Was every Filipino’s right to life, as well as the related rights to livelihood, affordable commodities, etc. respected?

How it impacts our nation

The Mamasapano Incident is the latest in the Aquino government’s five-year streak of failures. It is the result of a leader who is incapable of doing even the most basic thinking. Many Filipinos have observed that in other countries, specifically Japan, the head of their government will resign if one of his subordinates were just accused (accused, not yet convicted) of wrongdoing. Yet Aquino, despite his shocking stupidity, has remained in power for close to five years now precisely because of the “Pwede na yan, imbes na si Binay” mentality.

And the only reason Noynoy got into power because of the same mentality. He did not present a platform worthy of being used by student council candidates, yet many people supported him because he was contrasted with Gloria Arroyo (Pwede na yan, para mawala na si GMA) and Manny Villar (Pwede na yan, imbes na si Villar).

 

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