Piece Comment

Review of Frustrated Filipinos

According to my weekly guide to the rest of the world (The Economist, Sept. 10-16, 2005), "many Filipinos accept the familiar saying that their elections produce no losing candidates, only the winner and those who have been cheated." So goes the current controversy over whether President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo fixed the most recent election (opponents have tape recorded evidence pointing to such, they say). Filipinos have taken to the streets, attempting to spark another "People Power" revolution, which toppled governments in 1986 and 2001.

In her story, "Frustrated Filipinos," Shia Levitt explores why some citizens yearn for a return to an authoritarian ruler "with the people's interest in mind" or at least a strong, democratically elected ruler who wants to shake up the current power structure. Instead, those interviewed complain that the only candidates running are those interested in themselves and their powerful cronies. One man hints that democracy might not produce the best leader when the vast majority of voters are uneducated and money corrupts the political system.

Although I'm usually a fan of "less is more," I wanted just a little more context in this piece. It's professional, informed, but I get the feeling the reporter has internalized knowledge of the situation that she should share with listeners on Filipino history, the current economy and what may happen next in this country of 78 million people. (And on the subject of an "uneducated" populace, the adult literacy rate in the Phillipines is 92 percent, which is higher than I thought it might be before looking it up.)