COMING out of a year that was marked by tragedy, scandal, and pervasive difficulty in our national life, we welcome 2016 with a sense of relief, excitement and hopefulness.
In the excitement and revelry last night, we trust that injuries and casualties were contained at a minimum.
Culturally, we Filipinos cannot stop ourselves from celebrating the passing of the old year, and the advent of the new one. Such is the ardent wish we all have to renew our personal lives, and to make our country a better place to live in.
We are hopeful because the New Year brings with it the opportunity for us to start afresh in our personal and national undertakings.
The month of January, we are told, is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and doorways. Janus is traditionally depicted as a figure with two faces looking in opposite directions. One looks toward the past; the other towards the future.
That sounds just about right for us.
Without forgetting the victims of the Mamasapano massacre, and the still aching need for closure that their families and our people still long for, we also want to go beyond the tragedy, and turn our attention to overcoming the challenges of the hour and repairing the tattered fabric of government in our country – as the government of President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd has faltered in the basic tasks of governance – including managing the traffic and transport in our capital, keeping the peace across the entire archipelago, and defending the integrity of the public treasury against official looting.
The exceptional gift of the New Year for us all is the promise that we can inaugurate a new beginning. In 2016, this is epitomized by the fact that we will be holding national elections in May, wherein we will elect a new president, a new Congress, and new local governments throughout our land.
Given a successful election, which we pray will not be marred again by electronic cheating, we have a right to expect that by June 30, 2016, our nation will install a new president to replace President Aquino.
The expiry date of BS Aquino’s presidency is fixed in the calendar. There is no way around it. Nothing short of the destruction of our constitutional system can avert this change from taking place.
Because a change of administrations is inevitable, we must all the more insist and demand that the campaign for the May elections – especially the contest for the presidency – bring out from the candidates and their parties, their best ideas and platforms for governing the nation.
We should not permit the presidential aspirants to hide behind their slogans, gimmicks and TV advertising.
The most effective way to force out the vision, agendas, and capabilities of the candidates is the holding of debates, where each candidate takes serious questioning from experts and from each other.
In the 2010 election, BS Aquino successfully avoided close scrutiny of his record and his ideas of governance, by refusing to debate on live TV. So we never saw the man for what he is, and the leader who has no clothes.
This must not happen in the elections next year.
We must insist and demand that the 2016 election truly guarantee a new beginning for our people and our country.
We may not see this beginning yet in what the candidates have shown us so far. In the dynamics of the campaign, when it officially starts in February, the questioning will become more intense. And our people’s real demands and expectations of the candidates will come out.
And the candidates, if they really have it in them to lead our nation, will emerge and show us who they really are and what they stand for.
In this spirit then and with high expectations from this political decision dawning on our country, we wish one and all:
A Happy New Year and a new beginning.