IF no candidate is fit to be President of the Philippines, will Filipinos continue to vote with their feet?
Let’s start with basic, logical assumptions this election day.
All presidential candidates are honorable, honest men and women telling the truth.
Vice President Jejomar Binay says Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares is not qualified to be President because while the Senator has reacquired Filipino citizenship, she – including her spouse and family – had once renounced allegiance to the Filipino flag as a matter of choice or expediency, not for being persecuted based on economic, political, religious, gender, ethnic, nationality or membership in a specific social group.
Senator Poe says VP Binay has not refuted the corruption charges against him and his family – wife Dr. Elenita Binay and son Erwin. As for Rodrigo Duterte, the Davao City Mayor should be in jail instead of Malacañang for being an “executioner.”
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte says Mar Roxas, the administration standard-bearer, is “the most incompetent Filipino to aspire for the presidency.” Roxas, on the other hand, brands Duterte as a “liar and a thief” after “using legal maneuvers to hide his bank accounts.”
None of the candidates seems to be throwing mud to the other woman Presidential Candidate. For her part, Senator Miriam Santiago doubts the actual will of the people will prevail because of “poll fraud.”
If we are to believe what these honorable men and women are saying, then no one among the candidates is fit to be President of the Philippines.
Will the winning candidate’s promises during the election campaign be reflected in his or her first State of the Nation address? And halfway through the elected President’s term will the promised changes lead to more Filipinos looking for better life overseas? After a six-year term, will the State of the Nation Addresses simply metastasize as campaign fodder for candidates of the next presidential election?
Let’s start with Fidel V. Ramos describing the state of the Philippine affairs after the “revolutionary” government of Corazon C. Aquino.
“Our people still live under the weight of many problems. The indicators of national life tell us just how heavy this burden is: The top 20% of Filipino families receives 50% of our country’s total household income; the lowest 20% receives only 5%. At least 5.8 million families—over half of all our households—do not earn enough to meet their basic needs.
In 1991, some 2.3 million of our workers were jobless; and 7.6 million of those who had jobs were working less than 40 hours a week. Meanwhile, 860,000 young people join the labor force every year.”
Joseph E. Estrada stating the Philippine situation after six years of the Ramos presidency:
“Unemployment is now 13.3 percent and still growing; underemployment, 20 percent and also growing. 4.3 million Filipinos need a job. Twice that number wishes they had a real, full-time job. According to statistics, in the past six years, as the Philippine economy grew, the richest 10 percent got 40 percent of the national income. And the poorest 10%? Not even 2%.
It is worse in the countryside, where 40 percent of Filipinos still work for one-third of wages in the city. That is why they (migrate to Metro Manila) only to find that there are no jobs, or none for which they qualify.”
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, after taking over the remainder of the deposed President Erap:
“Our challenge is clear: Sugpuin ang kahirapan.
“We will take a hard look at education and ask: Is it preparing the youth for the jobs of the new economy? Or is it just-keeping-them-off-the-streets-until-they-are-thrown-there jobless after graduation? If they finish school at all.
“I want a school building in every barangay by 2004. Ibig nating tumalas ang ulo ng mga estudyante, at hindi malaspag ang paa.
“There can be a million new jobs in agriculture and fisheries. Within the year, the Department of Agriculture shall begin to implement the program to generate them. We will approach this with a sense of urgency. I do not want the 1 million new jobs to come in the long term. I want a timetable. I want to identify accountabilities. I want milestones.
“Trabaho. Tahanan. Edukasyon. Pagkain sa bawat mesa.”
Then it was Benigno S. Aquino III’s turn to point fingers.
“Our administration is facing a forked road. On one direction, decisions are made to protect the welfare of our people; to look after the interest of the majority; to have a firm grip on principles; and to be faithful to the public servant’s sworn oath to serve the country honestly.
“This is the straight path.
“On the other side, personal interest is the priority, and where one becomes a slave to political considerations to the detriment of our nation.
“This is the crooked path.
“Creating jobs is foremost on our agenda, and the creation of jobs will come from the growth of our industries. Growth will only be possible if we streamline processes to make them predictable, reliable and efficient for those who want to invest.
“Our solution: public-private partnerships. Although no contract has been signed yet, I can say that ongoing talks with interested investors will yield fruitful outcomes.
“There are some who have already shown interest and want to build an expressway from Manila that will pass through Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, until the end of Cagayan Valley, without the government having to spend a single peso.”
Have the promises of each elected President been fulfilled to date?
“The Philippines remains one of the poorest in Southeast Asia despite robust economic growth in the past few years,” the London-based think tank Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) said.
The EIU is the research and analysis segment of the Economist Group, publisher of the prestigious publication The Economist.
By 2019, the report continues, “the Philippines will remain one of Southeast Asia’s poorest economies with a lower level of GDP (gross domestic product) per head than the majority of the region’s other major economies.”
The EIU noted that large numbers of Filipinos would continue to live in poverty despite recent economic gains achieved by the country.
What has kept the Philippines afloat and the economy buoyant?
Strong inflows of remittances from Filipinos working abroad as well as those who have made other countries their place of residence because they can pursue careers and a better life without relying on campaign promises or State of the Nation Addresses.
After criticizing the deployment of Filipinos overseas by his predecessor, the Aquino III administration saw an increase of OFW deployment and remittances.
In 2011, the Bangko Sentral reported OFW remittances at P20.1 billion, increasing every year: P21.3 year in 2012; P22.9 billion in 2013; P24.6 billion in 2014 and P27.7 billion last year, according to BSP. Remittances increase with the number of OFWs deployed.
For 2015, the estimate of OFWs deployed is based on the daily average departures, according to Department of Labor and Employment data.
If the elected Presidents kept their promises, poverty would have been eliminated from the time Cory took over till the coming of the second Aquino administration. But poverty remained because corruption was left virtually untouched or ignored by PNoy.
We’re nearing the end of today’s topic. So, the bottom line is, despite all the promises of all Presidents during the campaign and the rhetoric and aplomb of each year’s State of the Nation Address, corruption remains while the inequality of income and distribution of wealth widen.
What steps are likely to be taken based on historical and empirical facts?
Bythecandidates: more promises.
By the elected: rosier and finger-pointing State of the Nation Addresses.
By the incumbents: avoid or negotiate deals on plunder cases.
By the OFWs: voting with their feet, by then more than 6,092 every day.