• PNoy wants Mar of the same

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    PNoy’s anointment of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas as his preferred successor only serves to undermine rather than boost the political stock of the Liberal Party (LP)’s standard bearer in the 2016 presidential elections.

    By endorsing Mar, PNoy is telling Filipinos that they are “cut from the same cloth.” That they are “two peas in a pod.” That Mar will be very much like PNoy.

    For LP drumbeaters and PNoy’s sycophants, that message may be music to their ears. But for many thinking Filipinos, that is a chilling thought, especially given PNoy’s subpar performance in uplifting the lives of the poor and the working class.

    PNoy’s statement that it is only Mar who can continue his “daang matuwid” policy means we will again be doomed to a government that is long on rhetoric and short on results. It also means we will have to endure more of the same self-righteous propaganda thrown our way for the past 5 years.

    During his State of the Nation Address last week, PNoy took a jab (again) at his favorite arch-nemesis, saying that the significant portion of the growth during the previous Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) administration “was fueled by remittances from Filipinos who had lost hope in our country” and that “people were voting with their feet.” PNoy also boasted that the number of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) had decreased due to improved local job generation.

    Yet, based on Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) data, the number of Filipinos leaving the country to work abroad actually reached its highest level during PNoy’s term. From 1,422,586 workers in 2009, the last full year of the Arroyo administration, the number of Filipino workers deployed overseas increased by 29 percent to 1,844,710 in 2014.

    Migrante International, a non-governmental organization for migrant workers, says an average of 6,000 Filipino workers are now being deployed daily to various countries, a big leap from the daily average of 2,500 in 2009 or a year before PNoy became president.

    Following PNoy’s logic, it’s clear more and more Filipinos are losing hope in our country and are voting with their feet than ever before, notwithstanding his supposed “daang matuwid” governance. And he wants Mar to follow his footsteps?! Patay tayo diyan!

    The record number of Filipinos leaving for greener pastures abroad also means that foreign currency remittances by OFWs have risen to its highest level yet. Cash remittances from OFWs went up from US$20.5 billion at the beginning of the Aquino administration to an all-time record high of 26.9 billion in 2014, an increase of 31 percent in a span of five years.

    For the past decade-and-a-half, remittances from OFWs have comprised roughly 10 percent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product). According to figures from the World Bank, the money sent home by Filipino workers only dropped slightly to 10.1 percent of GDP during PNoy’s term from the 12 percent average during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) administration.

    While OFW remittances may have contributed less to growth than during GMA’s time, OFW remittances remains significant contributor to the growth performance of the PNoy administration. But that hasn’t stopped the Aquino administration from making OFWs its “milking cow” for much-needed government revenue (think of OWWA fees, POEA fees, insurance premiums, etc.)

    Despite PNoy’s “walang corrupt, walang mahirap” battle cry, those of us who choose (or are forced) to work in the Philippines continue to witness widespread poverty, a fact confirmed by the Social Weather Station (SWS) survey in June 2015, which showed that an estimated 11.2 million (or 51 percent) of Filipino families consider themselves poor. The SWS said that the self-rated food poverty thresholds in Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao are the highest levels ever reached in these areas.

    In the meantime, political allies and top officials of the PNoy government keep getting embroiled in corruption scandals – from the MRT-3 shakedown and sweetheart contracts, the DAP-funded bribery scheme and the pork barrel scam, to the over-priced military helicopters – but have somehow remained immune from prosecution.

    No wonder the Veritas Truth Survey showed nearly half (or 46 percent) of Filipinos believe PNoy failed in his campaign promise of “daang matuwid” – the slogan-cum-policy PNoy vowed Mar would continue.

    And therein lies Mar’s dilemma.

    As PNoy’s anointed one, Mar cannot criticize his friend and political patron. In fact, he is under obligation to defend PNoy’s mediocre performance record. Mar will be forced to perpetuate the myth that PNoy’s “daang matuwid” has been greatest thing that ever happened to us. Yet, if he does so, he stands to completely lose credibility among the millions of Filipino voters who are not blind to the empty rhetoric foisted on us by PNoy.

    On the other hand, if he attacks PNoy, he would not only appear to be an ingrate. He might also lose the support of PNoy and the political machinery at Malacanang’s disposal.

    One thing’s for sure though. We don’t need the ghost of PNoy in Malacañang for another 6 years. And we definitely don’t want more of the same.

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