A READER of The Manila Times who identified himself as Carlo Adan commented on my November 10 column entitled ‘Understanding the numbers in filings’: “Nakakaiyak po,” he wrote, referring to my last paragraph.
It was not my intention to make you cry, Carlo. Rather, it was to send the message that the poor Filipinos, especially the poorest of the poor, may be feeling deprived again this Christmas as they have felt the past years.
If there are today more than 12 million of them, and the numbers are still rising, they should blame the uncaring politicians who enjoy their luxury meals even more than three times a day plus an extra midnight snack if they don’t go to bed early because they are surveying the happy-hour avenues in search of ways to better serve their constituents there.
Like the poor and the very poor, I know how it feels every time prices of basic goods go up. That is frustrating because any increase affects the family budget. For instance, I regularly monitor the price of rice, which, as of Saturday last week was being retailed at P59 per kilo, compared with P40 some months ago. If the trend continues, those who are classified by the government in its population count as very poor and living below the poverty line, may end up eating only twice a day to be able to survive until Christmas.
No. I am not trying to paint a bleak future for the poor. Rather, I am stating an observation that legislators normally forget about them as consumers and remember them only during election years as voters. This year, which is not an election year, they are most likely enjoying their best time not necessarily as lawmakers but as big spenders of public funds. Apparently, they have adopted the slogan “ignore voters today, win them over later.” In Tagalog: Madaling lokohin ang mahirap [It is easy to fool the poor.]
Look at how Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, soldier turned rebel, typecast a poor Filipino as “asal mahirap and kulay mahirap.” The two adjectives were what Filipino voters got from him in return for sending him to the Senate. What a paradox!
Trillanes is only one of a triumvirate widely perceived to use people’s money to promote their ambition to get elected to higher office. The two others are Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel 3rd. Try “googling” the name Cayetano. You will enjoy reading the entries about the family and conclude that with government resources at their disposal, the best of their world is in the Senate.
As for Pimentel, he must be the pride of his father. Imagine him, so young and already able to project himself as a fighting legislator. The young Pimentel, by trying hard to be noticed, has finally arrived.
Why do I focus on these three senators? I am grateful to my reader, Carlo, for providing the answer when he commented on Due Diligencer’s previous item. He said it all when he wrote “nakakaiyak po” in reacting to that particular column which I ended with this paragraph “Meanwhile, the very poor Filipinos who do not qualify to own credit cards have only the loan sharks to turn to for their holiday spending.”
Do Cayetano, Trillanes and Pimentel ever think of the living conditions of more than 12 million Filipinos and consider how they could help improve their lives through legislating the appropriate laws that would benefit this sector of our society? Of course, the politicians are ignoring them now because it’s not yet election time, although Cayetano has this early been promoting himself in TV ads using pork barrel money. That’s what I would call ‘early speculative investing’ if there was such a phrase in stock market lingo.
Here is a test to determine whether Cayetano and his two partners in the Senate’s triumvirate are truly for the people. Would they support the farmers of Hacienda Luisita in their struggle to get the farms distributed to them as the Supreme Court has so ruled? The tenants would certainly celebrate if they won these honorable senators over to their side.
Meanwhile, there is one good thing that can be said about Cayetano, Trillanes and Pimentel: they should be admired for not quoting Bible verses to defend themselves from criticisms. After all, they should know that reading the Bible in itself does not save sinners; repentance does.