Friday, April 4, 2008
Wanted: Modern Impalers
I was taken aback by one of Pol Medina’s old, frighteningly accurate comic strips. Two of his generously endowed kids were remarking on the progress of neighboring Asian nations. They suggested that the Philippines could also do with a little less democracy if we truly wanted to progress. One of Medina’s alter ego’s, the principled Mang Dagul, tells them to shut up because they obviously are too young to remember how the lack of democracy felt during the martial law era.
I suppose dictatorship will only truly work if our leaders are as saintly, principled and, uh, celibate (?) as Pope John Paul II. Any less than the former pope would make misused democracy better any time. In any case, I don’t think overflowing democracy is our problem. It’s the lack of every citizen’s exercise of the law. Yes, we have laws covering nearly everything from pissing on public walls (where politicians’ campaign posters just happen to grin out from in happy reception of the common man’s processed liquids) to swatting the activist flies that buzz incessantly over the morally challenged congressmen and cabinet secretaries. Despite our flawed but existing laws, people continue to urinate in the open, steal from taxes and kill the opinionated with impunity.
I say we don’t need to kill democracy. We just need a modern Vlad the Impaler. Vlad was a Romanian ruler who was popular for --- well, impaling. Enemies and transgressors of the law were stuck on poles and left for death to claim in slow motion. Vlad also excelled in skinning, burning, scalping and disembowelment. Many non-Romanians interpret this as a sign of extreme cruelty which has led many to inaccurately pin on him the origins of the fictional Dracula. Many Romanians however see him as a nationalist who only wanted to impose the just rule of law. One story recounts that Vlad’s people were so obedient to the law that when Vlad left a golden cup in the middle of the street overnight, no one dared pick it up.
Our country has had some strong leaders. There’s Duterte of Davao and Fernando of the MMDA. Break the law and you’ll either be spray painted or dead, figuratively or literally. As expected, the criticisms leveled against the two have been plentiful and harsh. I guess some people simply think of them as modern impalers. For certain they may have merited some of the rotten tomatoes thrown at them. But that is the beauty of democracy. We can complain all we want about the limited few strict officials and not expect to get a lashing or a slow death while impaled on the pink fences of the MMDA. That is, as long as we follow the law.