[OPINION | Newspoint] The great sellout

When too many things are going on at the same time in your life, you can become confused, and lose focus and perspective.

That’s the sort of situation we’re in. But, since we’re caught in it as a nation, not as individuals, there’s no telling what dangers await; the goings-on are so closely interconnected their dire consequences are likely to be aggravated by cross-feeding.

But how far do we see into the grim future? What are we prepared to do?

The future is actually visible across a fair distance; we’re just afraid to look. So, look!

Thousands are killed in a brutal campaign against drugs, and we are grateful for being drug-free ourselves (or for taking cocaine, the allowable “natural stuff,” instead of the low-end shabu – methamphetamine). We’re also grateful for so efficient a method of cleansing – extra-judicial – we tend to disregard the legal and moral responsibilities for it.

A senator is thrown in jail, the Chief Justice is lined up for impeachment, in both cases on ridiculous pretexts, and we put it all down to politics.

The Vice President, the eminently worthy constitutional alternative, is in danger of being forced out of the line of succession by familiar dark forces, and we simply watch. 

This news organization, Rappler, is itself picked on; it is summarily judged in violation of securities regulations, and the President bans it before a higher court could rule on its appeal with finality. Certain other media, meanwhile, are only relieved to be spared, and news consumers take what remains of the truth after the freedom suppressors of the state and the self-censors of the cowed or co-opted media have worked it over.

A constitutional change begins to be railroaded to allow federalization, and, as in the case of the anti-drug campaign, we think it’s a welcome shortcut. We think nothing of the consequent institutionalization of the long-operating culture of patronage and perpetuation of political dynasties. 

Martial law – or some form of it – is no longer just in the air; it has descended, in the south, and from there it’s being induced to spread, plague-fashion. Yet, we continue to pussyfoot around.

These are all terror tactics intended to ease our descent into authoritarianism. And, if we think the ultimate danger is native, Marcos-style authoritarianism, we really have not been looking. What we stand to lose this time is not just our freedom, but our sovereignty, our identity, our very soul as a nation.

It’s a prospect that, once realized, goes down in history as the greatest national betrayal, a crime perpetrated by one man who, in his deviant, self-centered mentality, has taken his election as president to constitute a blanket power of attorney, if not an outright transfer of ownership: since he owns us, he can sell us.

The prospect is widely taken as a joke for its ostensible incredibility: How does an entire archipelago get sold? Surely we have advanced for well over a century since the closing days of colonial conquests when we were sold by Spain to the United States for $20 million.

Considered from an informed perspective, the danger becomes all too real. If it remains denied, it must be out of a mixed sense of helplessness and fear: How do you stand up to a President who has on his hands blood from 4 personal kills and thousands more by his order or incitement or inspiration?

How, indeed, do you stand up to a broker-president like Rodrigo Duterte acting in collusion yet with a buyer-subjugator like China? That compound challenge is the ultimate challenge.

Not unlike the bombardment preceding an offensive, the terrorism and repression under Duterte are meant to soften the ground for the great sellout, which began with the effective cession of Philippine waters to China. Military bases, well armed and complete with airstrips, have since cropped out of those waters.

If there’s a fair exchange here, we have not seen any of the gains coming to us. In fact, none are coming. But, Duterte’s economic managers plead, “We want to make new friends.”

And so, we are taking China’s offer of credit to finance Duterte’s “Build, build, build” program – credit that carries interest rates 12 times the quarter-percent offered by old friend Japan.   

The new friend promises in fact to become so nice we are willing to go into its "debt bondage” (for all its horrific connotations, a felicitous phrase owed to the analyst for Forbes Anders Corr) – willing, in other words, to be foreclosed on as a nation. – Rappler.com