Judging by reports on last Saturday’s “people’s congress” in Cebu, and expectations about today’s Luneta rally, the “anti-pork” protest is alive and well.
The proposed P108 million per congressman for 2015, as against the P70 million they had been getting yearly before the Supreme Court voided the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, shows Malacañang is not prepared to abandon its life of corruption and crime. This has certainly thrown a fresh fast-burning log into the fire.
But whether the Luneta rally will generate enough heat or steam is too early to tell.
One thing is clear, though. Despite Malacañang’s profound incompetence, it has succeeded in fragmenting the issues against President B. S. Aquino 3rd, while the protesters have failed to consolidate them. We ought to do better. We cannot allow one scandal to simply swallow another and leave PNoy daydreaming.
This is what has happened. The PDAF and the DAP have been pegged together as one issue. The move to redefine “savings”, another. The threat to lift the constitutional term limit to allow PNoy a second term, yet another. The threat to clip the High Court’s power of judicial review, still another. And the balloon, which Malacañang briefly floated, then withdrew, about “no election” in 2016 is but the latest.
On each of these issues, Aquino has been ridiculed and made the butt of the worst jokes in social media and elsewhere. But very few seem prepared to point out that the issue has gone far beyond the individual problems of the PDAF, or the DAP, or the threat to lift the term limit, or the threat to clip the powers of the highest court, or the threat to cancel the next elections. The problem is now simply B. S. Aquino 3rd and no other.
What has Aquino done to the country, and what should the country do in return? This is the real question now. We need not insult or make fun of our King George III, we need not even show contempt or anger. But we must see everything that is happening, say what needs to be said, and decide to do something now.
What do you see, first of all? This is what I see:
I see us standing at the crossroads of our nation’s history. We have traveled far and wide as a people in search of truth, freedom, justice, peace and democracy. Yet we now face a situation where our “leaders” have lost sight of the common good; where the distinction between right and wrong, between good and bad, between legal and illegal, between just and unjust, has been blurred; where moral conviction and religious belief have been emptied of their deepest meaning and public purpose; where government of the people, by the people, and for the people has become more and more of a mirage.
Our political and social institutions are in disarray. We are ruled by a rapacious oligarchy operating through a dysfunctional and despotic presidency, a predatory social and corporate elite, and unbridled and self-perpetuating political dynasties. Crime, corruption, plunder, political abuse, and invasion of fundamental human rights and liberties are unchecked, except when committed by the “wrong” parties.
What afflicts our politics afflicts our economy even more. Extreme poverty has been “nationalized,” that is to say, redistributed to become the nation’s common patrimony, while the bulk of the nation’s wealth has been “privatized,” by the oligarchy and for the oligarchy. Despite persistent claims of high economic growth, rising unemployment, inequality and social injustice define the daily existence of Filipinos, millions of whom are victims of long-festering conflicts, common curable diseases and natural calamities.
And while the poor waste away without the barest of life’s necessities– food, water, shelter, electricity, education, health care, and basic transport facilities–the less than one percent at the top of the pyramid owns, controls, and profits from everything. Unprotected from life’s adversities, the poor have become the most disposable of commodities. So many of them have lost the will and the power to resist injustice and fight for their basic rights and liberties.
Despite repeated avowals of providing the nation with honest, dedicated and incorrupt service, Aquino has callously corrupted Congress, destabilized and intimidated the Judiciary, taken over the treasury, misused the police, exploited the military, and promoted conflicts, factionalism and political enmity among our ethnic, tribal and other communities. He has effectively disavowed his oath of office, and become a danger to our people and our democratic and republican state.
Indeed, the battle lines have been drawn. And they have been drawn between the Constitution and the rule of law on the one hand and Aquino on the other; between Aquino and the Filipinos. Yet confrontation could still be avoided if we all, PNoy included, hark back to the principle that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” Or as Mabini puts it, “the people is all, all is the people.”
More important than who should replace or succeed Aquino, which has now set off a runaway train of premature presidential campaigners, is the question of what should be done to restore our damaged Constitution and political institutions before we start talking of another election.
The restoration of these institutions, beginning with our prostituted electoral system, should be a conditio sine qua non for the holding of such elections. Aquino must now step down, not to be succeeded by a clone who will just carry on with “business as usual.” He must now step down to allow a purely transitional and non-partisan citizens’ group, representing or at least vetted by the various institutions, to fix the system. Thereafter everyone interested could join the competition without fear of being trashed by a political or corporate syndicate in control of the rigged precinct count optical scan machines.
This would need a period of transition precisely to give our people some breathing space and allow the fixing of the system. We therefore need to seriously and urgently consider not holding the 2016 presidential election, but with Aquino and his cohorts and sycophants out, rather than in.