I am concerned that the Department of Energy has admitted that our power reserves are thin, and one major breakdown will set off dreadful power outages. We have had rotating brown-outs already as far north as in Tuguegarao City and elsewhere throughout Luzon. Mindanao led us by several months through this particularly painful Via Dolorosa. And it concerns me even more that despite all the dreadful forecasts of “days of darkness” ahead of us, I still have to hear of a coherent solution to the problem or, in the very least, to be candidly told that there is none!
I am concerned that a growing number Filipinos see their future outside the country, this in the face of boasts that hundreds of jobs have been created. Filipinos people the world not because we are a mighty nation out to subjugate the planet, but because misery at home makes us seek fortune abroad. It particularly disturbs me that despite well-documented reports of shabby treatment, if not maltreatment, at the hands of foreign employers, Filipino OFWs choose to remain abroad because they do not find prospects of decent employment here. Our government offered Filipinos in war-ravaged Libya repatriation, an offer they politely but resolutely declined. Returning, they said, was not any better an alternative!
It concerns me that a substantial number of our graduates remain unemployed. I have been asked by many of them for recommendations. I have been generous in firing off highly laudatory letters of commendation, sometimes even beyond the real capabilities of those I recommend because I trust that they will learn. But when a hundred or so resumes come in for every vacancy announced you must be outstanding to have a fair chance at a job. Alas, for a few to be outstanding, most must be lackluster, and it is they who constitute the jobless majority!
I am concerned that we keep trumpeting corporate statistics and figures as gauges of our economic success, our convalescence, or so we claim, from being the ‘sick man of Asia.’ But many in the barangays of our countryside are not in the pink of health by any means, and for them, indicia of corporate prosperity mean nothing as they scrounge for a living each day. I am concerned that while billions have gone into the Conditional Cash Transfer program, the hundreds who crowd into hovels, seeking protection against the elements with the flimsiest and most elemental of shelters that cling to the edges of esteros or to the undersides of bridges leave no doubt that this well-trumpeted program has hardly made a dent on the hard and intransigent reality of frightening poverty.
I am concerned that even as the program of land-distribution has largely been completed, the farmer-beneficiaries are not any better off, except for the Certificates of Land Transfer that are hardly of any comfort to them. Left to their devices they constitute the newly emergent class of “landed poor.” Some, in fact, regret the dismantling of the relations of dependence that assured them of the landlord’s support for their immediate needs. And while we can preach to them till we are hoarse about the glory of self-determination that comes with agrarian emancipation, that is all empty talk to them who must scurry about aimlessly like the field rats they try so hard to exterminate when they are most in need, but sadly most in want and help is not forthcoming from those who promised them the proletariat’s paradise after the glorious emancipation from serfdom!
I am concerned that after the laborious process of setting into place a K to 12 program for basic education, there is disturbing talk again about going back to how it was before. And what disturbs me more is that there is every reason to believe that all this talk of undoing K to 12 does not come from serious concern for basic education, constantly bedeviled by ceaseless experimentation but by the unprincipled calculation of gaining political mileage.
I am concerned that the institutions by which a genuine democracy is possible in our country are now compromised. A domesticated Legislature puts virtually beyond reach the only means of holding the highest officials of the land accountable. And when citizens are constantly harangued about how the judiciary puts stumbling blocks of legal niceties in the way of quick response to their needs, and it is suggested not too subtly that the Supreme Court is to blame that the benefits of DAP can no longer be theirs, then you have only one branch standing tall and, quite ominously, it is the branch that wields the sword!
I am equally concerned that while the investigation and indictment of three senators identified with the opposition led, with remarkable promptness, to their detention, the dozen other legislators who also tapped into the PDAF made available to them have yet to attract the attention of the investigative and prosecutorial offices of government. It is always worrisome when investigation and prosecution are selective.
I am concerned that criticism, no matter how studied, no matter how sound, is reduced to a childish match of “us” versus “them,” coupled with the self-assured “We are many” and “They are only a handful.” When this becomes our version of “democracy,” then there is hardly any place for reason. History provides us with many instances of an unreasonable, destructive majority!
Finally, I am concerned that at crucial times in our national life, we are given to tears. We cried a lot at Cory’s funeral— and we were right in doing so. But we have this bad habit of making decisions through our tears, and we made decisions then that we have good reason to regret now. Let us shed tears if we must, but when we have dried them, let us go on with the business of critical thinking and dare to make the decisions that reason urges us to make, after we have dealt with our lachrymose selves!
[Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino is the Dean, Graduate School of Law of San Beda College, and Chair of the Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy of the Philippine Judicial Academy, Supreme Court of the Philippines. Starting today Fr. Aquino will write a column every Wednesday.]