“Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.”
– A Nation’s Strength
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have been monitoring DD throughout the whole campaign. I have been one of his bitterest critics. It is nothing personal; it is just a matter of principles. I fought President Ferdinand E. Marcos throughout the Martial Law period. I spent one year, six months and 11 days in Marcos’ political prisons – Camp Crame and Fort Bonifacio. I did not take it against him. I did not file anything against him or his family. To me as a revolutionary warrior, it is just a part of the game of building a better country so people can live in freedom, justice and peace. If I were in the shoes of Marcos I could have sent a revolutionary warrior in exile to some tiny island where he could spend the rest of his life – writing his books and wondering about the vagaries and the wild meanderings in the universe.
Long after the dust of battle has settled, I wrote a book entitled Leaders From Marcos to Arroyo. It was initially printed in the United States of America. It is distributed on the internet by barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com. It is sold in the Philippines by F. Sionil Jose’s La Solidaridad and Popular Bookstore.
In that book, which relates my personal encounters with Philippine Presidents and notes my comments on their presidencies, it is my well considered judgment that Marcos is the best President this country ever had, from his time onward till Benigno Aquino 3rd, made from the standpoint of the following standards: brilliance and relatively scintillating intelligence, vision of the country, integrated national program, reorientation of the Filipino, discipline and commitment to country and the people. He topped all of them on these parameters.
As I told him once, in a number of our one-on-one conversations featuring threats and flattering compliments, when he was desperately trying hard to persuade me to join him in his crusade, “Mr. President, there is no royal road to the Promised Land. You travel yours and I travel mine. One day, we will meet each other there.” Marcos’ travel has ended with an unappreciated legacy, which continues to be controversial. I am still traveling mine. Who knows? I might still get there.
It is in this light that I am reassessing PDU30. Why? Because as one of my favorite poets, John Donne, put it so well, I am involved in this country and mankind. I have been watching PDU30 very intently from the first day he became President until this moment – from his inaugural speech to his SONA, from his media encounters to his speeches before policemen and military officers, from his kissing the hands of bishops and cardinals to his bussing Gina Lopez on her cheeks, from his denunciations of drug lords to politicians and oligarchs, and to his defining many things that he wants for this country.
I am quite impressed with all these but remain disgusted and repulsed by the killing rampage of his boys, destroying the lives of many poor and helpless girls and boys and their families. It’s just contemptible and unacceptable for me. But let me forget for just a moment this scourge that has visited our country and settle on my promise in my last column with some good ideas coming from the controversial mouth of PDU30.
END TO ENDO (end of contract): It is about time this came to an end. It is unjust and it is illegal. It is time our businessmen and oligarchs realized that they have been causing a lot of injustice to their workers who actually make money for them. It is oppressive and despicable. While crediting PDU30 for pursuing in this matter relentlessly, we should not also forget that our friend, the late presidential candidate Roy Señeres was the first major political figure who challenged the oligarchs and businessmen to end endo.
It is also worthwhile to remember that endo should not only end for private employers but also for the government. The casual or contractual employees in government are, as a rule, unnecessary as they are but accommodations by politicians for their followers and friends. For others who are beyond these categories, it is only fair and just that they be made permanent employees.
When I was governor of Misamis Oriental, I wondered why there were so many temporary employees in the provincial government. I went over their papers and many of them should have been rendered permanent long before I became governor. I asked many of them why this was the situation. Their reply, in chorus, was, “Gov, all governors before you want all of us to be temporary so they can control us and our families during election time.” I made the qualified ones permanent to the delight of even my political enemies.
So PDU30 should press the end of endo immediately, with heavy penalties for those who will not follow the law and the marching orders.
NAME AND SHAME: This is one of the most powerful instruments to clean up a community. In this country, most of our politicians and powerful individuals belong to the categories of magna at maka or krimna at maka – meaning, MAGNAnanakaw na, MAKApal pa ang mukha; or KRIMinal na, MAKApal pa ang mukha. (A thief with a shameless face to boot; or already a criminal with a shameless face also.) The normal answer of those who are named is that they are innocent victims. This is the normal defense. This is the denial syndrome, well identified with former Vice President Jojo Binay during the election campaign. Other than being the weakest defense, it does not work like in the case of Binay during the elections.
About the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court saying that it is within their jurisdiction to investigate judges or justices – nobody is disputing that in administrative cases. In criminal cases, it is the duty of the police or the NBI to investigate judges or justices. They are not above the law. They should be the ones first to obey the law. So the NBI or the police should investigate them, especially if they are involved in illegal trade or protection for money business.
This is a good formula – name and shame. But it should be followed by filing cases against them and let the chips fall where they may. Fiat justicia ruat coelum – let justice be done though the heavens fall. The time has come for these elements to be unmasked, exposed and punished.
RESTORE THE ROTC: It should be done now. This is a very good move. Once upon a time when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was headed by ROTC graduates like General Rigoberto Atienza, who came from the University of the Philippines (UP), the AFP was in pretty good shape – warriors with the correct values, gentlemen soldiers, disciplined and God and country oriented. Now, well, look at the narco-generals, are they not PMA (Philippine Military Academy) graduates? What a waste of people’s money being spent on the PMA giving rise to these types. So ROTC, here you come, courtesy of PDU30! Show your wares and your mettle!
INVESTIGATING THE CRIMINALS IN THE POLICE AND THE MILITARY: Now, PDU30 and Bato de la Rosa have finally awakened to the reality that there are many rats in the police and the military. They should not only be dismissed, they should all be dishonored, prosecuted and punished. The ones who will undo PDU30 in his reform drive are the police and the military. Many cases of extrajudicial killings are orchestrated by policemen who want to silence illegal drug users and pushers so their criminal activities will not be exposed. This should be obvious to PDU30. Policemen and military men of this kind are unreliable allies. They are like most of our politicians – they are all opportunists and fair weather friends. Look at the exodus of Liberal Party congressmen to the three congressmen-PDP of PDU30. What a scandal! But this is nothing new. In the old days when the Philippines was split between Liberals and Nacionalista, when the Nacionalistas won against the Liberals on the issue of graft and corruption, the crooks in the Liberal Party immediately joined the Nacionalistas. It is the same old behavior then and now – nothing new, nothing has changed.
So PDU30 should send all these politicians to Danding Cojuangco’s Bugsok Island in the Palawan group to vegetate all their lives.
STOPPING THE MINING THIEVES: The companies that violate our mining laws are like thieves of the environment. They exploit our natural resources and they leave the environment in ruins. It is a correct solution to suspend mining operations of these companies and cancel their permits as soon as the reports from the fields are validated. Violators should also be identified, shamed, prosecuted and punished. They are no different from the drug lords, the protectors of drug lords, the crooked politicians, the smugglers, the rogues in robes, the oligarchs, the criminals in the military and the police, and the corrupt in government and private institutions.
I have no love lost for the Lopezes but, probably, one of the best if not the best appointment of PDU30 to the Cabinet is Gina Lopez of DENR. I don’t know her. I have not met her, but she projects determination to do her job for the country. She appears competent and focused. She knows how to do her job. There should be more of her kind in the PDU30 circle.
Opportunity for national greatness
As a student of Philippine politics, in the wider sense of the term, PDU30’s first month in office beats the records of all Presidents of this country, from Cory to PNoy, in terms of offering ideas that could serve this country better. He is innovative, focused and appears to be a no-nonsense President. This is quite an achievement for a promdi from Davao City. But he should not waste this opportunity for national greatness, because he has the potential to do it if he concentrates on implementing these ideas.
But he should stop NOW the mindless killing of the poor and the downtrodden. This will undo everything he has done and intends to do. He should remember the famous lines from Mark Anthony”s oration in Julius Caesar that “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”
This is true with Marcos, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mussolini. It is best to remember the lessons of history. Otherwise as Santayana said, you are doomed to repeat it. The wise man is he who listens to the lessons of history, the fool is he who ignores them. The ball is in your court, Mr. President. You take your pick, after all, you show signs that you are street-smart. You don’t have to be a Harvard or UP intellectual to make the correct choice. Simple – national greatness or oblivion!