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Badly Divided

By: Cielito F. Habito, PhD
“What is happening to our country?” “Is there hope for the Philippines?”
I am again hearing these questions crop up increasingly in casual conversations. The first was famously attributed to the late former vice president Emmanuel Pelaez when he survived an ambush in July 1982—a period marked by spreading dissent against the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship. It has been a while since I last heard these questions asked around me with the same frequency I’m hearing them now. To me, they signal a growing feeling of frustration and helplessness at a situation seemingly getting out of hand. And events of the last week appear to dramatize quite well what is wrong. The Inquirer’s Sunday headline said it all: “A nation divided,” it said, on photographs of two opposing rallies in different parts of the city.
Those questions, when I hear them asked, are not necessarily coming from the side of the so-called “yellow army” or, even less likely, from those derisively branded as “Dutertards”—the groups representing opposite sides of the spectrum of sentiments Filipinos now have about the political state of the country. Rather, I’m hearing the questions asked by people who would identify with neither group, and could only witness the vicious exchange of words from the sidelines. But these people also largely believe that the Marcos years were among the darkest in Philippine history. The sense of frustration and hopelessness embodied in the questions is fueled in conversations on the outlook for the next presidential election in 2022, and when the prospect of yet another Marcos presidency is seen not to be remote. There’s no question that this prospect has been enhanced by acts and statements of the current President himself, who has made no secret of his admiration for the dictator—and this is where the divisiveness of his leadership seems most manifest.
Read the full article at http://opinion.inquirer.net/102027/badly-divided