Prints and Traces

The state machinery with all of its legal institutions, under normal conditions, works as a manageable apparatus for peace and stability.  But in a dictatorship the ruler commands state authority with the nozzle of the gun.  No matter its pretensions, its inward decay oozes out as a reign of blood and terror for the perpetual suppression of people’s rights and interests.  At best, it is a “paper tiger.”

By DON J. PAGUSARA
Davao Today

The superstructure of state power overwhelms the human psyche — much more when it manifests as a form of dictatorship.  It is a phenomenon of madness, cloaked as a necessary mandate for social security, stability and order.  And however good-intentioned may be its genesis, the horrible consequences of its day to day affairs betray its real nature.

At the start, a dictatorship may assume a benevolent guise beyond the grasp of the ordinary human as much as it confounds the intelligent mind with its extraordinariness and pseudo-noble purposes.  Its façade displays a seemingly formidable strength and invulnerable might.

In fact, a dictatorship, in whatever time and space, is a structure of weakness, of utter rottenness, of corruption.  Its decadence is midwifed by the inability of the dictator to rule in the usual way.

The state machinery with all of its legal institutions, under normal conditions, works as a manageable apparatus for peace and stability.  But in a dictatorship the ruler commands state authority with the nozzle of the gun.  No matter its pretensions, its inward decay oozes out as a reign of blood and terror for the perpetual suppression of people’s rights and interests.  At best, it is a “paper tiger.”

How does it thrive?  What constitutes the fodder for its existence?  Nothing less than the might of the state’s armed forces — the military.  And so, a dictatorship always eyes for its loyal spouse, the alluring power of military rule.  But martial rule begets violence after violence with infiniteness.  Or in the immortal words of Senator Lorenzo Tañada, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Such is the premise of the Marcos Dictatorship with all its bombasts and pretensions carried by its nauseating omnibus tag of “smiling martial law.”

But even as we recall the tortures, massacres, extrajudicial killings, rapes, disappearances, incarcerations and other human rights abuses during that nightmare of a political era in our history, our hearts are tweaked with apprehensions as occurrences of police brutalities, military abuses and other excesses of the State security forces continue to confront us in our present political dispensation.

What used to be tagged as “hamletting” and “salvaging” during Marcos’ time still happen in the countryside where militarization continues to be pursued under the guise of “peace and development,” where peasant families are forced to evacuate and settle in places far from their homes and farms during anti-rebel military operations.  The case of Cristina Jose’s assassination is a stark example of salvaging.

The so-called Oplan Bayanihan is a sugar-coated agnomen that masks the obnoxious character of the military’s counter-insurgency measures and objectives.

How long this facade of benevolence by the present Aquino regime will last or be totally exposed is just a matter of time.  As crisis after crisis in the economy worsens and the political superstructure gradually chips off to unmanageable levels, decisive steps towards military dictatorship eventually become an inevitable option.

This is an irrefutable logical truth taught us by history — by histories of societies wherever in the world since time immemorial.  And no amount of benevolent posturings can hide the rotten content of the political sepulcher when the eventuality comes.

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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