NEVER LEARNED LESSONS
FROM PAST MISTAKES
By Apolinario Villalobos
The most significant turning point in the history of the Filipinos was the toppling down of the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos, by the so-called “People Power”. Many Filipinos regretted their lack of concern and failed to discern the creeping onset of the dictatorship. There was no vigilance. The trusting culture of the Filipinos is such, that they allowed an authoritarian to rule their lives for more than ten years, before they were jolted from a deep indifference and realize their mistake.
Posthaste, Cory Aquino, the opponent of Marcos in the presidential election, and wife of the assassinated Ninoy Aquino was installed based on the election results that were supposedly rigged to favor Marcos. But not all participants to the political tableau were satisfied. Those who showed disgust were open about their apprehensions. They expected that the inexperience of Mrs. Aquino in Philippine politics would just be exploited by the seasoned and shrewd politicians who have hidden and selfish agenda. True enough, the good impression on the Cory administration did not last and those with hidden agenda were unmasked. After Cory Aquino, came Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, and currently, Benigno Aquino III, son of Cory Aquino.
Today, the Filipinos are practically wallowing in misery, and for that they are blaming the government. But who put those greedy people in their posts, anyway? Filipinos failed to put to good use one important tool of democracy – election. That tool is supposed to give them the power to choose the right people who are expected to champion different causes of the various ethnic groups that comprise a proud race. That power puts everyone on equal footing regardless of social and financial status in society. Unfortunately, that opportunity is blown time and again because of the greedy desire to exchange such “power” with a few hundred of pesos every election day.
Filipinos refuse to see the truth, that their decision come election time is swayed by either money or impression. When before, Filipinos in general, look at electoral bribery with disgust and discussed only among peers and used as a dirty accusation, after the Marcos administration, such subject has become a common topic during campaigns, with constituents comparing amounts given by candidates. On the other hand, those who belong to the financially better-off group of voters, base their impression on the eloquence of candidates in mumbling promises, aside from the tract record of their families in the political game, a practice conveniently tagged as perpetuation of political dynasty.
Filipinos are emotionally carried by sad stories about “martyred” father or mother of candidates for the sake of the country. They are captivated by fluently delivered speeches in different dialects. They are mesmerized by the seemingly permanent smile of pretty candidates. They are spellbound by the regal bearing of candidates who suddenly emerged from the glittering show business world. They are awed by the mathematical geniuses who promised billions, even trillions for the government’s coffer if given the chance to steer the country towards the vast international commercial arena.
And speaking of commerce, there is a fast advancing move of the congress to amend the economic provision of the Philippine Constitution by inserting the “unless, otherwise, provided by law”. That simple amendment is supposed to invigorate the apathetic performance of the nation’s economy, as foreign investors are expected to flock to the Philippine shores, by then. It’s funny, but even without such amendment, foreigners have already been flocking to the shores of the country for the black sands and nickel –rich soil transported out on big ships to China. So, who are these congressmen fooling? Who formulates the law, anyway? What will stop them from formulating laws that will favor their interests, and worse, extend their term by inserting fine words that will indicate the “economic necessity” of such extension?
The ongoing investigation on the anomalous dispensing of the people’s money, known as the pork barrel scandal, says it all. Lately, even the people that surround the president doubt if the investigation could be capped with the departure of Pnoy from the palace by-the-Pasig river. Will the next president have the heart to go on with such investigation? Some observers are looking at the investigation as some kind of zarzuela, where participants deliver speeches with a wink.
Law makers will always find a way to get hold of the people’s money by all possible means. Despite the declaration of the Department of the Budget and Management (DBM) that the pork barrel is a thing of the past, the Congress circumvented the blocking restrictive system as manifested in the already approved budget, by coming up with a deceptive form which the representatives can fill up to indicate their recommended beneficiaries of their projects and preferred implementing non-governmental organization (NGO). Of course, the congress leadership vehemently denies it, despite the form’s having been shown by a seemingly “honest” congressman on TV. Noticeably, the form which has already been distributed among the congressmen, according to the whistle blower, has no letterhead! Most importantly, who will know if conduit NGOs have handed out cash rebates, perhaps, a few months after the liquidation of project expenditures? Unlike bread, cash does not become stale despite months of safekeeping.
Again, all that the Filipinos can do now is mumble a painful regret and draw a heavy sigh for the mistake committed….again. Good thing the Filipinos do not have the painful habit of beating their chest, or their head, or pull their hair, or cut their skin, every time they are in distress brought by a regrettable act or sorrow, otherwise, most of them would have been disfigured or maimed a long time ago, yet.