THE recent wave of popular uprising that started on December 18, 2011 in Tunisia has now escalated far and wide. It was beyond the imagination of even the most astute social forecasters. For who would even thought that Hosni Mubarak would bow out that fast after 30 years of power in Egypt? Or, most astonishingly, who would have ever drawn up a scenario for a demagogue like Colonel Muammar Gaddafi doing a game-over by hiding like a rat under a culvert toward his death whereas in 2008 he was bestowed by African rulers with the title “King of Kings” with 42 years of iron rule in Libya?
Albeit initially disorganized and seemingly spontaneous, this movement has been referred to as Arab Spring, probably because it has beaconed new hope and awakening for the Arab world that has been resistant to change for quite a time now. Global observers have identified the following factors that led to the popular protests: dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, government corruption, economic decline, among others. All these add up to the cry for changing of political leadership; while others have been forcibly dethroned, the rest have promised to step down at the end of their terms—unless, of course, the protesters make it sooner.
Inspired by the Arab Spring comes now the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It started on September 17 at the financial district of New York City. On its 48th day at press time, this initiative has now snowballed to about 900 cities worldwide. Like its inspiration, this too is a leaderless people-powered uprising. But the main difference is this is not directed to a particular leader. It is apparently addressed to the well-entrenched financial system that has bred social injustice, global economic imbalance, corporate greed and the darkest side of capitalism. Taken seriously, this is sending a very chilling message to world, so that even the Vatican has issued an 18-page document on it, entitled, “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority.” The document calls for the establishment of a “global authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in addressing current financial mess.
But will these movements reach the Philippines shores? The chair of the CBCP Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, answers in the affirmative. He says, “In the Philippines, we find similar restlessness brewing among our sectoral group…this rising tide of discontent, coupled by the indifference of the general public, is substance for insurgency which the Church hopes to stem.” In the nearest future, he is convening a social reform movement which he calls “Kilusang 99%” which is about “making the poor the center of development and making the government accountable for the welfare of the majority.”