INTERNATIONAL broadsheets and TV news agencies seem to be preoccupied with persistent and worsening terrorist threats, while the chatter in the local press and coffee shops center on corruption and presidential aspirants.
By gulay, 2016 is still far off, yet everybody’s consciousness seems to be focused on election matters already. Those intending to run for elective office (president, vice president, senator, representative and local positions) are already posturing and presenting themselves to the voters. Whenever there is a group chatting, you can be sure that the topic would eventually move on to winnable personalities. The list of so-called presidentiables and vice presidentiables is getting longer by the day—VP Binay, Senator Cayetano, Secretary Roxas, Senator Defensor-Santiago, Senator Trillanes, MMDA Chair Tolentino, Senator Marcos and many others. When asked who my presidential candidate is, my answer, for now, is former Mayor Hagedorn. I’ve been to Puerto Princesa and I’ve seen what he has done there—social, economic, business, industries, others—and I am impressed or, to be more practical, against the present list, he appears to be most capable, with the requisite executive experience, the least perceived to be corrupt and with proven political will to do what has to be done. My candidate for vice president is Congresswoman Leni Robredo of Camarines Norte. What makes her attractive is her being a newbie in politics and her unsullied character.
Another hot topic is about President P-noy Aquino being charged and going to jail after his term ends, just like former Presidents Erap and Gloria. My friend and illustrious labor lawyer, Noli Payos, says that he believes to this day that President P-noy Aquino and his family have remained honest and above corruption. His one big liability is his inability to lead his cabinet well and not firing the obviously unproductive officials and those perceived to be dabbling in corrupt practices. All the more I admire Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. I pray that she concentrates on strengthening the evidences in the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] cases to finally get convictions.
And instead of the usual teleserye drama, the favorite pastime is now watching those Senate hearings.
I am aghast at the testimonies given by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and businessman Marcial Lichauco, Jr., on the extent and audacity by which corruption is done and perpetuated in government. Allegedly, whole families are taking part in it with such nonchalance as if it were a simple matter and the money involved is just small change.
Now, who’s minding the store? Who’s doing the thinking? Who’s in charge of creativity and innovation? There is nothing new or exciting happening in all branches of government—it is business as usual.
Who is tasked with guiding the young ones along the “matuwid na daan” (straight and narrow path of righteousness)? Who’s paying attention to the preservation of our cultural heritage? (While nobody was looking, some anti-Filipino groups have proposed to remove Filipino as a subject in higher education. In other countries, their national language is taught up to post-graduate courses. Here, English will be retained but our national language will only be an optional subject.)
Who’s looking out for the welfare of Filipinos? A long time ago, I twice experienced MRT trains malfunctioning and stopping in between stations. Nobody seemed to have minded then because worse problems were not experienced. Who’s looking after the sick? Visit any government hospital, particularly Philippine General Hospital, and you will understand better what I have written here. Private hospitals and medical services have become very expensive. Deplorable.
Who is attending to the plight of our farmers? That is why farmers strive hard to send their children to college because they don’t want their children to experience the adversities they are now experiencing. That is why prices of vegetables and fruits are getting beyond the means of the common man. That is why it is getting tough to get farm help—nobody wants to farm anymore, if there is an alternative source of livelihood. I talk to poor people here in Metro Manila every opportunity I have and ask them why they don’t go back to their province where the air is clean, there’s lots of playing areas for their children, they need not live in dire conditions like here, even own their house, where food prices are affordable, where there are the same educational facilities for their children and where they can engage in farming and be their own boss. The usual answer is that farming is difficult because they don’t have the funds to start a farm and there’s no help from government.
These political posturings and Senate hearings go on and on and on. Meantime our problems are getting worse, our situation is not getting better (who cares about our burgeoning economy when it is not trickling down to every Juan?), the same “corrupt” officials are aspiring to lead the country, our values and cultural heritage are getting eroded, our poor are dying without access to medical assistance and proper nutrition, nobody is getting convicted of plunder, and we are spending valuable time chatting and chatting and chatting.
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