I get it. We’re all spiraling downward as a society. The death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise, people are going hungry, fake news is everywhere. We have an incompetent President with a habit of blabbering nonsense during his late-night press conferences. We have all been angry for weeks, and rightly so. We see other countries with competent governments, with efficient systems in place to combat the pandemic. It makes us all envious. We all know we deserve better. And sometimes, in a moment of sheer weakness brought upon by desperation, we can be led to think that lawful evils are better than incompetent evils.
But here’s the thing: this is not the time to laud a person who did maybe one or two good things among many atrocities. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was no lawful evil. She was just plain evil.
One might rebut this by saying, “But at least she handled the SARS outbreak!” Well, Ferdinand Marcos built a couple of buildings here and there but that definitely does not erase the thousands of desaparecidos during his time. Lest anyone forget, we are in deep, deep, debt because of the Marcoses. In his 21-year regime, the economy tanked, while their family got richer and richer. Arroyo did just about the same — human rights violations, corruption, and who would ever forget the infamous Hello Garci scandal? She rose to power after Erap got ousted, but she was just the same brand of evil, clad in a different suit of armor.
Truth be told, our country has never been led by anyone who actually put the Filipinos’ needs before theirs. We have never seen anyone competent enough, compassionate enough, wise enough seated in Malacañang. We have all just normalized this low level of governance that we have started to just look at the very minute silver linings. We’re used to feeling like we’re the ones who owe the government something, rather than the other way around. Used to being ignored in times of need. Used to suffering because people at the top enjoy playing games for power.
So maybe, instead of nitpicking from a basketful of bad tomatoes, we ought to look forward. We can’t, and shouldn’t reimagine the past and try to cleanse evil by focusing on the few good things. And while we can’t change what has happened for the better, we can definitely change the present, reshape our future, and break the cycle of evils coming in and out of government positions. It’s high time we demand for the things that we deserve — for everything that we pay for with every peso that we pay in taxes.