I was postponing this column as I was trying to observe and track wannabe pundits on account of the ever-contentious issue of PALECO vis a vis the recent visit of President Duterte. At the announcement of the latter’s coming, practically everyone threw punches at the hitherto embattled electric cooperative. Complete with memes and the like, several of us even went to become pestering by being “mapang-asar” at “mapanakot” to the local power distributor. Do we blame such reactive behaviors? Perennial victims do tend to blow the top beyond rationality.
Along came “expropriation”. Then and there, the proverbial boxing ring has turned into a raucous wrestling rumble courtesy of social media platforms. Heated arguments among personalities also gripped the airwaves. Further, the halls of the City Council quickly sounded a tractable “yes” to the indication made by the nation’s CEO. Again, who are we to blame? And, who’s to blame?
For his part, Councilor Elgin Damasco, Chair of the Energy Committee and a known supporter of the President, did not mince words on the matter. According to Damasco, he is only duty-bound as a representative of the people to relay local currents to the father of the nation. Apparently, the gesture did not sit well with Jeffrey Tan-Edriga, PALECO’s prexy. A word war is now ensuing between the two stalwarts. Whose word must we believe in as being more factual? Yet, who’s blaming whom?
All told, resorting to finger-pointing impresses no one. Psychologists even consider blaming as contagious. It is a virus that spreads and affects anybody. Hence, it achieves nothing except to mutate into more problems. God forbid that problems are already morphing into perennial annoyances.
While the foregoing is about power (or the failure thereof), it is also significant to note the interplay of another kind of power, that of authority or influence. Necessarily, the genus of this power is politics. Needless to say, too much politics is tantamount to defeating the very purpose of power—to ensure the common good. If the blame game is a virus, politicking must be the curse. Politics must serve the interests of power, not the other way around.
Michel Foucault, a contemporary French philosopher, says that “power is everywhere”. He explains,”… power is not possessed by a dominant agent… instead, it is distributed throughout complex social networks.” In other words, “power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere.” Hence, be it literally or figuratively, the power that is not well distributed would definitely cause power failures. We should now know that power failure is beyond “tuko”, “ibon”, “sanga” and all the other things that annoyingly disrupt our activity, including our peace of mind.
At the outset, the difference between a cooperative-owned and that of the government would not matter at all if it will be “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” to borrow Abe Lincoln’s frame of mind. Surely, what is of topmost importance to every consumer is the good that is very affordable and a service that is rather dependable. Nothing more and nothing less. Anything less and contrary must already be weighed as needing appropriate, whereas immediate, action. That said, whether of cooperatives or of the government, what should always be at stake is the public welfare.
Going back to Foucault, power indeed must emanate from and be distributed to people. This postmodernist thinker espouses that power should not be associated with either powerful institutions nor with systems of domination. On this thought, the cooperative setting depicts every “kamay-ari” as empowered, and the General Assembly is deemed as peculiarly more powerful over a person or a group of people. As such, their individual and collective voices should be the clarion call to the powers that be.
Conspicuously, there had been two significant voices that reverberated quite loudly in Palawan-the President’s and that of Raffy Tulfo, popular media personality. Undeniably, the two were able to drumbeat for the people in Palawan. In other words, the sentiment was “nakahanap ng kakampi.” On second thought, it is somewhat offbeat that it took two “outsiders” for the voice to resound and be heeded to. It does leave a bad taste when ordinary voices from below just fall on deaf ears. Where are the so-called “boses ng Palawenyo” now? But then again, what is all the more pathetic is when those who have the most legitimate voice are tongue-tied. When voice is nowhere to be found, while lips are sealed and a deaf ear is all that is left, we do need a lot more outsiders’ voices.
Two weeks after the President’s visit and months after Tulfo’s voice, are we to trick ourselves again by waiting for another visit and voice and doing something for our power (both the energy and the authority)? Else, we should brace ourselves for more of the same game-blaming cum politicking.