The Government Has A Lot to Explain
By Apolinario Villalobos
No suavely delivered rhetoric can splash gay color over the miserable picture of the Philippines today. The president keeps on mumbling economic turnarounds, increased jobs, decreased unemployment, invigorated business atmosphere, investments, etc. It is a shame that he is blind to what are really happening around him. He is seemed to be solidly sanitized by his confidantes, his cordon sanitaire, that he cannot even afford a peek beyond the walls of Malacaῆan Palace.
On the second day of the World Economic Forum, while he was delivering his speech without emotion, pockets of rallies were being held to open the minds of the Filipinos that not even such a “world class” gathering of businessmen can guarantee a realistic economic growth for the country. While he was shown on one TV station delivering his speech about the country’s enjoying a “miracle” economy, another station showed the unfinished school buildings at Tacloban and the rest of its countryside that are obviously untouched by the promised rehabilitation. “Miracle” may just be the right word in describing the economic state of the Philippines, very apt for such a gathering of humbug economists who scratch each other’s back, and because the country is predominantly Catholic, the faithful are “waiting” for a miracle to happen, yet!
Now, it can be told, that indeed, one reason why the rehabilitation of the areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda is the turtle-paced action of the DBM in releasing funds. This allegation is splashed all over the front pages of the dailies. What happened to the billions of donated funds? Why is the agency having a strangling hold on the strings of donated fund’s purse? With its attitude, Filipinos are suspecting that the agency is concocting a way to filch the fund systematically.
Newspapers carried headlines about the president’s trusted DBM Secretary, Abad, as the first “client” of Napoles, while he was yet, a congressman, and also the “brains” that bred the idea on how NGOs and Foundations can be used in suctioning funds from DBM. The suspicion has been, in fact floating around when the issue on forged SARO’s surfaced, but the president just shrugged his shoulders. Nothing is heard about any thorough investigation of DBM…not even on where the Xerox boys of the agency got their idea about switching documents to facilitate the release of funds, and most especially, the issue on the issuance of two SARO numbers that seemed to have victimized complaining lawmakers, they who are currently dragged into the anomaly. I recalled the lanky governor whose SARO number (when he was yet a congressman), appeared on the SARO document of a government agency to which billions of funds were released. The release was accredited to his name, although his SARO was good only for a few thousand pesos of fund for his project. When the “mistake” was “discovered”, all that was published on the dailies was the simple apology of the staff of the agency! The agency on whose SARO document the governor’s SARO number was made to piggy-ride is notoriously known for its corruption, highlighted by ghost and half-finished infra-structures.
While the President has the gull to announce the fast recovery of the country from calamities that befell it, TV stations splash on screens the sorry state of evacuees in Zamboanga, skeletons of school buildings in Leyte and Samar complete with salvaged books that may no longer be readable, broken chairs, shaky hanging bridges precariously spanning rivers, and undistributed stacks of bags of rice, some of which were reported to have been left rotting.
Add to the abovementioned, the announcement about checks made on jueteng and other gambling in the country which has become a funny topic among radio broadcasters, as it sounds just like a fairy tale. And, security of the nation that according to him is well in place, to which observers say, “ohhh…really?”.
Mountains that are supposed to be forested and protected have been denuded by unscrupulous illegal logging companies some of which are owned by politicians and government officials. Hills that are supposed to be thick with shrubs and tall grasses have been bulldozed, some practically flattened and converted into subdivisions. Why are these government properties titled? And why is the intrusion of foreign miners tolerated despite their having been exposed by idealistic media men? What the media men earned for their brave effort are marks for liquidation! Even a seasoned senator has the temerity to reveal in front of TV cameras when he was interviewed, that his money came from logging, hence, not from the coffers of the government, and which would therefore prove, that he is not corrupt!
The president cannot claim honest-to-goodness accomplishments despite his stay in the palace for many years. He keeps on blaming the past administration for what for him are “inherited problems”. He is implying that he cannot just let the nation be saddled with so many problems. Is he hinting on something? Is he aiming for another presidency, a reason why the three guys of the senate are viciously “maimed” – politically? Are all the problems that he keeps on mumbling to the point of repugnance be used as “signs” for him to stay put? If he will mention divine intervention despite his avowal not to run for a second term, only God knows if the Filipinos will believe him or trust him…again.
The president has a lot to explain. While there is still a fraction of chance for him to save what is left of their family’s honorable name, he should double up his effort in coming up with answers to the floating questions that just aggravate the polluted air of the country. While there’s still an opportunity left for him, he should sweep the palace with sincere effort to eliminate the egoistic whisperers who are obviously pulling him down. He has a little more than one year to do it, and he should take note, that time flies fast.