Prologue: President BS Aquino’s 2010 platform of government, titled “A Social Contract with the Filipino People”, badly needs updating to keep up with the times and with reality.
Our national leadership needs “transformational change.”
- Its ability to govern is under question.
- It punishes the wrongdoing only of its perceived foes.
- It invents new forms of corruption like DAP and defends it despite Supreme Court rulings declaring them unconstitutional.
- It weakens the democratic institutions by refusing to be held accountable.
- It clings to power by confusing the people with half-truths, outright lies, and empty boasts.
- It demonizes those who expose the truth about its incompetence and corruption.
- It hinders our local governments from delivering basic services, as in Tacloban and other areas led by perceived foes.
- It offers no lasting solutions for the many problems of the country.
- It has no vision of governance beyond political survival.
Filipinos cry out for change.
- Corruption continues unabated and assumes new forms especially among the national leadership’s partymates and allies.
- “Friendships” are more important than official titles and responsibilities, and even the chain-of-command.
- Dictates of big, foreign multinational institutions are hampering the growth of micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs, and pampering Big Business.
- Genuine agrarian reform is being denied our farmers.
- High taxes oppress the middle class.
- High prices, high cost of living, lack of job security, and limited employment oppress minimum wage workers.
- The false promises of change, arrogance at the highest levels, and politics of cynicism have eroded our spirit as individuals, as communities, as a people.
- The national leadership has corrupted the democratic institutions.
- The national leadership has divided us.
- Our moral faculties as a people have been paralyzed by the leadership’s “black and white” mindset. Inaugurating a car plant is more important than honoring the arrival of bodies of dead cops.
- The national leadership is making us cynically believe there is no hope.
So-called “gift of Light” is blind and blinding.
After winning on the basis of necropolitics and through a non-transparent automated election system, the President started on a high note by unveiling the vision of a “Daang Matuwid” and to be more like his parents and less like his predecessor.
But the President did exactly the opposite: He brought along and protected his own “barkada”; presided over the instant conversion of his predecessor’s “balimbing” supporters; used old and new forms of pork barrel to keep them loyal; incompetently handled one issue after another; and implemented programs mostly beneficial to an elite few while the rest make do with crumbs.
While the President always boasts of his family’s “legacy of change,” he and his allies are acting not like “flesh-and-blood democrats.” They refuse to be held accountable, use pork barrel to kill impeachment complaints, always try to deceive the people, and engage in trollish behavior. Just like what they do under either a Marcos dictatorship or an Arroyo administration.
Today, there is a clear and unmistakable deficit of “integrity, humility, and trust-worthiness” starting with the President and his national leadership.
We suffer from the arrogant refusal to admit and bear responsibility for action or inaction detrimental to the people – from the Luneta hostage crisis to PDAF/DAP, from Yolanda to Zamboanga, from Hacienda Luisita to Mamasapano.
The national leadership cannot understand or do the right things, performs with mediocrity and dishonesty, and gives priority to themselves and their friends and not the greater good.
Daang Matuwid 2015
- A President who is incompetent, dishonest, arrogant, and mediocre. He is a “limited” fighter of corruption who focuses only on his foes and turns a blind eye on himself, his partymates and allies.
- A national leadership impeached and convicted a Chief Justice because of misreported or missing SALNs; but refuse to resign or threatens to use pork barrel to prevent its own impeachment and conviction for the US-instigated and incompetently-planned Mamasapano operation that led to the death of 44 SAF commandos.
- A government that merely conjures economic growth statistics that our people know to be unreal. Or worse, beneficial only to Big Business who enjoy tax breaks, tax holidays, perks and endless loot from deregulation, privatization, and liberalization.
- Education is either a fundraising gig or a commodity. It reaps billions from students of state colleges and universities through rising tuition fees, and allows private schools to raise “other school fees” at a dizzying rate.
- It continues to deprive citizens a Freedom of Information Law, a potentially powerful tool to make government transparent and accountable.
- It presides over a dismal mass transportation system for Metro Manila even as it pays MRT Corp. billions of taxpayer pesos in lease and raised fares to pay them more.
- It presides over a rural economy dominated by fellow big landlords who stand on the shoulders of millions of landless farmers.
- Anti-poverty programs like “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino” instill a dole-out mentality for some, and unleashes an “all-out war” of violent demolitions of urban poor shanties for many others.
- Private-Public Partnerships that use public funds or sell public property at bargain basement prices, mostly for private gain of Big Business.
- OFWs are still cash cows whose remittances provide a lifeline to the economy. Budget for OFW assistance continue to fall, even as their contributions continue to rise. Small perks like exemptions from airport terminal fees and travel tax are now harder to enjoy.
- Presidential appointees chosen mainly out of political accommodation and friendship. Think Butch Abad and Alan Purisima.
- Military and police are demoralized due to the incompetence, corruption, and treasonous acts of high officials.
- A Bangsamoro Basic Law that may fail to pass constitutional standards.
- The refusal to talk peace with the National Democratic Front, the arrest, detention and prosecution of NDF consultants, and disrespect of 11 previously-signed agreements.
Epilogue: The president and his platform have been “weighed but found wanting.” No wonder the people say “game over.”
First published in the Manila Bulletin op-ed section, 21 March 2015.