The people could gain insights from these three major yet seemingly unrelated events. Actually there are common threads that link these three events in world politics.
First, these are all products of democratic institutions and processes. The Brexit was decided by a referendum. Trump’s victory, of course, was the result of US presidential elections, through an electoral college notwithstanding. And what has paved the way for the eventual burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Burial place of Heroes) was a Supreme Court decision.
Second, these events have altered the course of world politics. At a time of crisis, when the nations of the world should be working together, the United Kingdom decided to go on its own. At the time when the world is being wracked by conflict, Donald Trump, a racist, divisive, homophobic, who has a very low regard for women was elected president of the US, which has the strongest military force in the world. Also, while in other parts of the world, in nations that were likewise oppressed by dictators and human rights violators such as in Chile and Argentina, former dictators, their allies and henchmen are being prosecuted for their crimes against the people. Here in the Philippines, the worst dictator that the country has so far had would be given a hero’s burial.
Third, these are portents of the rise of far right politics. The campaign for the Brexit was hinged on an anti-immigrant platform: Let us leave the European Union to stem the tide of refugees going into Britain. Trump’s campaign had all the trappings of fascist nationalism: build a high wall in the border with Mexico to stop the entry of illegal immigrants; deport all illegal immigrants; ban Muslims from entering America; penalize companies that bring jobs abroad; reject non-US citizens like Obama.
In the case of Marcos, the Supreme Court could not hide behind the excuse that it merely decided on the basis of the law and the Constitution. Our dear justices of the Supreme Court are fully aware of the political ramifications of the decision. Let us quote President Duterte’s justifications on his and the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, as reported by Interaksyon.com.
1. “Now the question about the dictatorship of Marcos is something that cannot be determined at this time. It has to have history.” He called the dictatorship and the eventual Edsa people power uprising as “a political fight initially that turned sour because of the power struggle of the ruling political families in this country.” Indeed the dictatorship was a result of the power struggle among political families, which, in turn, was brought about by the economic, political and social crisis devastating the country at that time.
But President Duterte missed out the point that the dictatorship was a power grab by Marcos and the people power uprising was a movement of the people against the dictatorship, which was eventually usurped by a faction of the ruling elite opposed to Marcos. And the members of the ruling elite eventually formed alliances, which was the reason why the Marcoses were never really prosecuted by succeeding administrations.
2. Regarding the massive human rights violations of the Marcos dictatorship, his reply was “has yet to be proven by a competent court.” Let us remind President Duterte that the Federal District Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of human rights violations, in a class action suit filed by the victims and their families, led by SELDA or the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto. It awarded $2 billion in compensatory damages to the victims.
Moreover, the victims of arbitrary arrest, torture and detention and the relatives of the disappeared and those killed under the Marcos dictatorship are living testaments to the human rights violations that were committed under martial law.
President Duterte claims that he is merely following the law when he allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. But the law is supposed to protect the rights of the people and render justice.
Fourth, the Brexit, Trump’s election, and even that of President Duterte were a retaliation against the heartless elite politics and neoliberal economics that had widened the gap between the rich and the poor, worsened corruption, attacked jobs, wages and security of tenure, intensified land and other resource grabbing, and oppressed and repressed peoples in the name of ‘democracy’ and combating terrorism.
An incisive article published by The Intercept, written by Glenn Greenwald, provided insights and lessons from both the Brexit and the Trump victory.
As a friend, and fellow progressive, wrote, the ruling class has only itself to blame for the Trump victory. And the struggle of the people continues.
Progressives have a big responsibility of redirecting the peoples’ frustration on the failures of ‘democracy’ and neoliberalism. A drift to the far right is a bane not only for elite politics and neoliberalism but to the progressive movement as well.