An Anarchist and Autonomous Community-Based Resource Center in Muntinlupa City (Manila south), Philippines
Last week I attended “Sphere Orientation Project” participated by various international humanitarian organisations. We discussed “standards principles” in providing humanitarian aid for three days. During the last day, I wore my DIY statement shirt with a message: “Kasya ba sa Balota ang iyong mga Pangarap?” Surprisingly, most of the participants talked about it and exchanged opinions during short breaks. Many of them answered “HINDI”. I do not know what exactly came in their minds but for me the message means NON-PARTICIPATION. To put it more blatant – BOYCOTT.
Electoral processes proves nothing in terms of addressing poverty, ecological destruction, equity, war, violence and discrimination against women, gays, lesbian and indigenous communities among others. Election is a failure not because of corrupt politicians but because of the democratic/representation system that in general is composed of a few individuals who controls the process of decision-making that ensures their privilege and interests.
Election is a politician-centred designed system that make people subservient, dependent, submissive, divisive and most of the time stupid. These characteristics are definitely opposite to the attainment of one’s self-determination and hindrance to the development of well-being.
These troublesome, sad, humiliating and anti-people situations are being reinforced if one choose to cast their vote. My right and freedom cannot be reduced in selecting names, parties and groups that will be involved in making the authoritarian and exploitative system more robust. We have the option not to participate in the elections: our symbolic action against the system. Electoral exercise is a form of deception that allows you to choose the lesser evil who will make decisions for you, for your family and community. It gives an impression that you freely choose a leader that represents you and your interests.
There are myriad of life threatening social problems and issues that could be immediately resolved by the government who holds “absolute” power over the archipelago. It has become a profound influence to the society that could have command social institutions to behave in favour of the marginalised. But after more than a hundred of years in existence, the people are still suffering with the same social issues we fought and became our struggle over decades ago. Names and political parties come and go in government offices, agenda after agenda have been placed and implemented, loans have been renewed but to no avail of our miserable condition that still persists.
State institutions failed and continues to fail the people in so many ways and recurring times: To name a few, environment-related catastrophes that took place in many parts of the archipelago is one of the issues that the state must hold accountable. Due to mining and deforestation projects implemented by the executive branch of the state agencies armed with law interpreted by the highest court, hundred thousand of people suffered due to displacement, loss of livelihood and murder during the event of catastrophes, to which indigenous communities are amongst that are heavily affected. Who is again to be held liable to the never-ending condition of the workers that could not send their children to school because of poor public education services and way too costly access to private education sector? On the daily basis, wage workers have to look for food while trying to figure out how to pay their rent. Electricity and water bills are months behind the due. Sickness is not an option for them because they cannot afford if one family member requires medical attention. Farmers have plenty of grief to share, the endless struggle for land, the killings and massacre that unfortunately no one, not one name was ever been charged. Thousands of hungry and homeless families are roaming around major cities begging, squatting and being harassed by state agencies while the government is allowing local and transnational corporations that rip social patrimony to which each and after every SONA the chief executive describes these as economic growth.
With these experiences and conditions, it is plausible to think that state and government institutions are not designed to provide people freedom, autonomy and basic necessities. By nature, the state is obviously designed to control people and community. It imposes uniformity and could use “legitimate” violence to those who challenge its absolute power.
One will surely ask, what is your alternative? There are multitude of alternatives you can think of once you able to go beyond the limit of system of representation and state/government notions. We must agree that formulation of alternatives is not an undertaking who ONLY belongs to an individual or a few groups. If we would like to start the process of social change, we should start from the needs of our community. Politicians and state and market institutions do not have the ability to know these needs and neither they have the sincerity to respond. As it has been noted, those who are directly affected or concerned has the full details of their needs and issues. Why not employ a decision-making system that engages local and community participation? The local government code by experience, do not work. To be able to realise the objectives and interests of communities, their participation should not only be limited to consultations controlled by the government. Communities should be involved directly in the decision-making especially to issues that concern the use and access of natural resources.
Representation system cannot capture the sentiments and details of the grassroots. The people directly affected can outline the details of their suffering and needs that are being undermined because the society in general does not recognize them.
Of course there is no single solution to our problems and we cannot solve these problems overnight. The very great step that we must take is to be always critical of the social institutions that are reinforcing inequality, war, violence, control, poverty, patriarchy, ecological destruction and ignorance. And one of these social institutions is the state, in which one of its mechanism for sustenance is its elections. The menace of the electoral system is public knowledge, vote- buying, violence, deception and corruption that have become the unchanged picture of the process.
How come we STILL trust this system characterised by vile intentions? In your own daily walk of life, with these kind of system you choose to believe to be your hero, Kasya nga ba sa balota lahat ng iyong mga pangarap?