DOES one become patriotic because he or she supports his or her country's president or government? Or conversely, is one guilty of being unpatriotic because he or she does not support the current head of state and administration?
This talk about patriotism is among the myriad of issues that forced themselves into the public arena during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's visit to New York earlier this month.
On one hand, supporters of Mrs. Arroyo accused those who were attending rallies against her government of being unpatriotic, of "demonizing" Mrs. Arroyo's visit and of being intent on embarrassing her and the country.
On the other hand, protesters contend that the President has betrayed the trust of the nation when she allegedly connived with corrupt election officials to rig last year's presidential election. What can be more unpatriotic than that, they say.
There really is no black-and-white answer to those questions.. They can be both right, and they can be both wrong. It all boils down to how one defines patriotism.
There is a sense of patriotic pride surging within us to know that Mrs. Arroyo was the first Philippine President, the first Asian leader, and the first female head of state to preside over a United Nations Security Council Summit. We at The Filipino Express take pride in that achievement.
At the same time, we also believe that sometimes, the patriotic thing to do is to expose and oppose abuses, neglect and ineptness of the government, especially if one strongly believes that these are harming the people's interests. We have the cases of deposed Presidents Marcos and Estrada as clear historical examples.
What should be made clear from the onset is the fact that loyalty to the President is different from loyalty to the country, or the people. Supporting the President is not synonymous to upholding the people's interests.
Loyalty to the person of the President does not a patriot make. Only by putting...