The mid-term elections in the U.S. this coming November and in the Philippines in May 2019 will serve as pulsesthat will show the direction of where the two nations are headed.
In the U.S., the electorate will answer the following question: The Republicans control the White House, the Lower House and the Senate, and President Trump dominates the scene. Do you want this to continue or not?
The same question is relevant to the Filipino people as they cast their mid-term election votes: President Duterte and his allies control the executive, the legislative branch of the government (the Senate and the House of Representatives), and to some extent the judiciary, and President Duterte dominates the scene. Do you want this to continue or not?
This line of questioning is not new. Some of us have already heard this before? Yes, it’s from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act III, Scene 1):
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, . . .”
Shakespeare belongs to the 16th century generation in Europe and we are now in the 21st century of the modern world but notice that we still ask the same question (at least during election time).
What I do not understand and it remains a mystery to me is why Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte who are exact opposites of the presidents that they succeeded were chosen to lead their respective nations (in Trump’s case, how he got that much popular vote to get the nod of the Electoral College). The Obama and the Aquino administrations were looked at and viewed favorably and both were popular leaders when they left office.
Notice the much pronounced difference in terms of governance and policy directions. President Barack Obama and President Benigno Aquino III were progressive leaders and have achieved progressive pro-people reforms while Trump is conservative, anti-immigrant, and pro-rich. Duterte, who was initially considered as a “strong man” and a “maverick”now acts as the voice of the very same “old order” that he vowed to eradicate when he campaigned for the presidency.
The Philippine economy is faltering and crisis in the nation is looming and Duterte now claims that his government cannot do anything to reverse this downwardeconomic direction.
After the death of thousands of Filipinos in the name of Duterte’s banner “war on drugs” and not being able to fulfill his campaign promise of eradicating drugs in three to six months, Duterte changed his tune by saying that he cannot solve the drug situation during his term of office as president.
What is frustrating and disappointing is the fact that both Trump and Duterte are not “unifiers.” They have managed to divide and polarizethe people that they were tasked to lead.
I am reminded of the lyrics from the song “The End” by the Beatles: “And in the end . . . the love you take . . . is equal to the love . . . you make.”
“Where do we go from here?” is the important question to ask. Here in the U.S., let us register and vote. There are so many things that we can do and accomplish through our robust civic engagements and community empowerment involvement. And your one vote and participation can multiply and infect others.As Shakespeare wrote: “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”
The fight and the struggle is still definitely on. Let us make ourselves and our votescount.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.