Leaders make policy choices. As they do, they not only redefine and alter the governing paradigms but also express preference for the words and phrases that would best describe their actions, programs and policies. Words that are music to their biased, partisan ears.
Example. During the term of Mr. Marcos, communist guerillas disappeared from his governing vocabulary. The substitute was “communist terrorists.” As it was martial law, the media then had to parrot the official ( Marcos) version. The official communiqués of government promptly reflected the mailed fist, all-out-war policy against the army of the Left.
“Communist-terrorists” was stricken from the official and popular usage after the events of February 1986 as an era of appeasement set in.
In a tectonic shift on usage, the US under Mr. Obama stopped the use of “illegal immigrants” to describe some 11 million people who have been long in the US soil without legal status. They are now called “ undocumented “ and some states allow them to work and live in their areas with little impairment of their right to live. Of course, these are the liberal states governed by Democrats.
But no leader in contemporary history can top the single-mindedness of our incumbent administration in vanishing words it does not like and giving new definitions to words that it favors . The purging of some words and the redefinition of some are, following the practice of leaders, intended to align words to Mr. Aquino’s governing paradigms and policy choices . Below are samples of words that vanished under Mr. Aquino.
Intractable poverty. Mr. Aquino does not believe this social and economic cancer exists. There is nothing in the official communiqués of his administration that admits this pestering problem — brutish, nasty and seemingly forever – is the major scourge in ordinary people’s lives. This cancer is airbrushed and tamed down in many ways, from the official NEDA reports on poverty, to the hollow, unserious strategies to solve it .
Seriously. What can you expect from a president, who deeply believes that poverty is tethered to official corruption and once corruption is stamped out, poverty would disappear. This simplistic determination on the roots of poverty also has practical moorings. For every misstep of the Aquino government, which Mr. Binay has graphically described as “ palpak,” Mr. Aquino can always blame the past administration of Mrs. Arroyo or the yet-to-be-slayed relics of “ corruption .”
Mr. Aquino’s tortured phrasing – kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap – will go down in history as the most simplistic and hollow take on the roots of – and solution to — massive poverty.
Inequality. In the Aquino universe, this word does not exist. No presidential speech, address, communication admits its existence. Mr. Aquino and his flacks have offered a hackneyed, worn -out substitute that conveys an Orwellian tone. “ Inclusive growth “ has been the lame substitute for inequality.
The purge of the word inequality from the governing vocabulary is easy to explain. “Trickle-down,” which simply means that economic gains from the top are redistributed to those at the bottom of the economic strata, is still a living and breathing policy to Mr. Aquino despite Pope Francis’s statement that it is bunk and there is no empirical evidence to prove it works.
Painstaking researches have proven that whether the country is an OECD country or outside of the wealthy group, the trajectory of income gains is the same – upward and no dynamic redistribution to those at the bottom of the economic pie.
With his deep faith in “ trickle-down,” Mr. Aquino remains a prisoner of a discredited orthodoxy, without capacity of adopting to the sea change in which inequality is being addressed on a global scale.
What about the words that Mr. Aquino has vanished at the micro level?
Traffic jams. These daily monstrosities are, in Mr. Aquino’s universe, tangible, palpable signs of progress. The surge in people’s movement and the heavy traffic of cargo is said to be at the root of the traffic jams. In the world of Mr. Aquino, and his men, these should not be viewed negatively but positivel. Just like captured combatants enjoying waterboarding. Or women enjoying rape.
But then again, what can you expect from a government that cannot run the trains on time. And whose transport policies favor cars and private vehicles over mass transport.
Rice shortage. The mantra has always been rice self-sufficiency. Despite the fact that the country has been importing anywhere from more than one million metric tons to two million metric tons a year, Mr. Aquino has been suckered by his Jokers at the Department of Agriculture (two co-secretaries would you believe) that the country is either on two states when it comes to rice: self-sufficient or about to attain self-sufficiency. The facts and the figures on jumbo rice importations are irrelevant.
With this truthiness on rice supply, I will conclude this piece with a phrase about leadership that has been rendered inoperative by the Aquino administration’s DA. “ Two heads are better than one” has been proven untrue the DA leadership.
The DA has two secretaries. Instead of improving and getting more productive for the country’s food security sake, the two leaders of the DA are the joke of the Aquino bureaucracy. Imports have been surging. The Philippines is now the dumping ground of every Asean member’s excess food production. The Filipino farmers are poorer than ever. The state of the country’s farm infrastructure is shabby and fraying by the day.
Even in the simple preparations on how the agriculture sector would compete under an integrated regional economy, Mr. Alcala’s standard response is this: more organic farming . Mr. Pangilinan has an “ out-of-the-world” prescription. His take – more integrity.
What are then the choices left to farmers like myself, my next of kin and my neighbors? Commit suicide or abandon farming altogether.