Have We Lost Hope As A Nation?

With the Presidential elections just around the corner, everyone seems to have made up their mind who to vote. I have declared my choice of Mar Roxas as President and I am a known supporter of Leni Robredo since the beginning so my choice is clear.

But there are still undecideds among our midst that I try to campaign (convince) with my choice. Not that I want to impose my choice on them but that I want them to also go through the same process of rationalization I did for their choice.

The same rationalization process I push with those who’ve made up their mind also.

I simply begin by asking the innocent question of Why him (or her)? and follow up the answers with supplementary questions.

While some have been accommodating in answering my thought provoking questions even if it leads them to dead ends they can’t answer, others simply gave up at the first instance. But the saddest – and for me the worst answer I’ve received – is a declaration of hopelessness for the country.

I was dismayed when I heard that even with the elections coming up, nothing changes. It’s all just the same. The powerful stay in power, the rich becomes richer, the poor gets poorer, etc. Better go to another country. There’s no hope for change here.

I cringe at the lack of ownership. The lack of nationalistic spirit. We may all agree to disagree on our choice for president but to claim that whatever happens, whoever we vote for, nothing will change is tantamount to saying our democracy has failed us.

This lack of hope will be the downfall of our nation for we have resigned ourselves to the perceived lie that nothing can be done about the woes of our country.

But there is hope. Change is already happening. Let us not be blind to it. Let us not wash our hands of it. Change is happening – and we are part of that change.

The Peace in Mindanao

This morning, during my usual commute to the office, I heard the radio commentator discussing the current situation in Mindanao. With the recent tragedy involving the SAF Elite Unit, it appears the peace process is compromised – possibly altogether abandoned.

He said that before we all rush into emotionally charged decisions, we should consider first all factors involved – rationally. The peace process gave hope to our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao. Not the rebels, but the civilians. Civilans who have become too scared to seek means of livelihood. Innocent children who have become too scared to go to school. Thousand of innocent Filipinos, caught in the crossfire between the government and the rebels. They are the ones for whom the peace process is for.

And with the recent skirmish, abandoning talks of peace process all over again, is akin to dashing that single shred of hope to bits and pieces. A shred of hope that for years they haven’t even the slightest idea was possible.

While it is true that we must grieve and mourn the fate of the Fallen 44, that we must sympathize with the families who have lost them, we should not let ourselves be consumed with our emotions to forego all rational thinking. After all, these brave men died for the very same thing many wants to abandon – peace.

The Bangsamoro Issue, these peace talks and peace process with Mindanao, these are all issues that I have heard over and over again. Back in college, I gained a better understanding about the Bangsamoro and their plight. I gained friends who were residents of Mindanao, proud to be so, and longing to see peace in their land. I know they deserve it. Like us, who fight for our basic rights, these people also deserve the most basic right anyone can get – peace.

With the recent momentum in the peace process, I shared their glimmer of hope. That finally, after so many years, peace will come to Mindanao. It was a shock when the masacre happened. It was a shock even more when people reacted so strongly to the point that they wanted to abandon the peace process. I even read some hate messages to simply wipe out the rebels.

It made me wonder: are we still humans? Are we still capable of love? forgiveness? peace? even in the midst of tragedy? Yes, it was a loss. But it was not just a loss on the military (or police’s) side. There was also lost in the MILF side. There were civilan casualties as well. But as a friend from Mindanao put it, why would the media care? Why would people care? The Fallen 44 were the glorious heroes. The fallen MILF were the bad guys. The fallen civilians were the extras.

War is a lose-lose situation. Each side will suffer. One side may win but at the expense of what? The best course is to really forge peace. Peace is a noble thing to aspire for. It will not come without a cost; without challenges. But we must hold on. We must desire it and fight for it to not deterioate.

What can we do? We can do the most powerful thing we can. PRAY. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the people in power who have the ability to move things. Pray that peace really happens this time. Pray for healing in the hearts of those who grieve. Those who are angry. Those who are ignorant. Prayer can do wonders. It is time we do our part.

PNoy: Lonely at the Top?

It hasn’t been a week since Jesse Robredo was buried when news sprang of how DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno tried to gain access to his office and condo unit to secure confidential documents. It wasn’t a secret that Puno has been deemed untrustworthy by majority of the people. His constant flaws and the means by how the President brushes through them has earned the ire of many. His questionable credibility as part of the DILG has been part of the news every so often. His apparent rift with the late DILG Secretary, Jesse Robredo has been observed time and again. Hence, his actions at the time when majority of the government’s agency were still under “search and rescue” mode raised a lot of eyebrows.

Many asked why he had to secure the documents at the time when Robredo was just missing, still presumed to be alive. Many wondered why his snooping around raised alarms in Robredo’s household prompting his wife to ask for official security to guard her husband’s properties. Many speculated what those documents were. It was no secret Robredo was unto something and that he was investigating certain things to which many speculated involve Puno.

Yet all this brooding ill feelings remained largely at bay. Until the President decided to speak up in defense of his shooting buddy. The President said he ordered Puno to secure the documents at Robredo’s office. The President said he was prompted by DeLima about it.

But digging further, we see that it was Atty. Leni, upon learning of Puno’s attempt to enter the condo unit, who urged DeLima to protect her husband’s properties. DeLima came into the picture after the fact that Puno tried to access Robredo’s office and living quarters.

Also, we see that the President’s orders were for Puno to secure Robredo’s office. Yet Puno went a step further and tried to secure the latter’s condo unit. Foremost in everyone’s mind was the question: Why Puno? The public was not so fond of him. He had his differences with Robredo. Robredo’s family and household apparently mistrust him judging by their actions. So why did the President pick him? Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that it was logical since he was the undersecretary. But is that reasonable given everything that is known about him?

This issue is far from over. As Puno prepares to face a Senate inquiry to which Sen. Miriam Santiago promises there’ll be “sounds and fury“, I cannot help but wonder how committed PNoy really is to his vision of tuwid na daan. It’s such a shame because I can see he is making progress. It’s such a shame because I believed in him and trusted him despite the negative publicity he receives every so often. It’s such a shame because his success will be pulled down by his so-called friends.

In any leadership position, there will always be tough decisions to make. Whether you are a class president or the president of a nation, at some point in your reign you will make difficult and unpopular choices which may or may not favor your friends and even your family. Such is the cost of leadership. True leaders know how to make decisions that would be for the benefit of the common good even if it disfavor the people close to them. Because of this, they say that it is lonely at the top. Indeed, it is.

For PNoy, the path he chose for himself is no easy one. He has decided to veer away from the traditional notions of politicians as corrupt and selfish individuals. He promised the entire nation that during his reign, he would make it possible for true public service to shine through the government. He basically promised to restore our trust in the institution set forth to govern us. This is a tough call for anyone. With this promise, there will be many toes which he will step on. Some toes may belong to his friends, perhaps even, family members.

Yet to truly usher in the transformation he promised this country, he needs to be the tough leader who favors no one. He must learn to stand firm by his words exempting nobody. He cannot make excuses for the people he holds dear to his heart. Rather, he must practice impartiality to everyone. If it comes to the point that the people he holds dear to his heart are proven guilty of wrongdoing, he must be strong enough to exact punishment. It is harsh but it has to be done. Only then can the people see his sincerity to lead them through the tuwid na daan.

This impartiality called forth from him will assault his heart. Along the way, his friends may become enemies and his loved ones might find themselves punished for crimes they thought they could get away with. These decisions will be tough on his part but he has to do it. It will be very lonely at the top for him. But that is the price he has to pay.

That is why, true servant leaders are hard to find. They put the welfare of the people they serve first above their own interest, even above their own relationships. They do not leave unpunished the ill doings of even the people they care about. They are ready to make tough decisions even if it means breaking their own heart.

In this regard, much as I admire PNoy, his constant defense of his long time friend, Puno, shows me that he is not the servant leader I have longed for to become our nation’s president.

(Breaking News: Puno has just resigned from the DILG. This does not exempt him from the Senate probe, however. The question that now hangs in my mind is: will PNoy re-appoint him to some other government agency?)

The New Dynamics of Begging

Poverty has indeed afflicted our society in graver ways. This evening as I was lining up for the jeepney ride home, a young girl perhaps 8 years old, relatively clean and decent looking went to every person on the line, sang a Christmas song and unabashedly asked for money. She was alone yet she was persistent.

A similar case is seen outside SM. As one alights from the tricycle groups of boys would immediately sing to you Christmas carols and ask for money usually even before you get the chance to pay the driver. Thus some end up giving them the loose change.

This kind of scenario was basically absent or not that prominent in Naga City last year. I only experienced this in Naga this year. In Manila I was used to persistent beggars. But in Naga, no.

Which led me to wonder, how high did the incidence of poverty rose in our country? With PNoy’s program of ensuring a tuwid na daan, is he really sacrificing too much the livelihood of the people? I hope he realizes the other great problems of this country and starts really acting on them in a capacity that is felt positively. I hope the increase in credit rating of our country rubs off it’s effects in ways we, the common people could readily feel. Otherwise, the country may cease to care what kind of a daan it is so long as their stomachs are filled.

Arroyo: No Where To Turn To Now

After finally arresting former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and successfully detaining her in a public hospital despite her alleged serious medical conditions, the administration makes doubly sure she can’t get away with a ruling in her favour by the current supreme court justice. Although the Palace denies it, everyone seems to think that the reason why the congress so hastily voted to impeach Supreme Court Justice Corona is because of the President’s allies in the Lower House. Indeed, it’s a Merry Christmas  Pnoy and 2012 can expect back-to-back trials during it’s first months’

But what can we really expect from a justice who was a midnight appointee by the former president who is now expected to be tried by him. Will objectivity really still prevail given the fact that he owes his position of power to the person convicted? GMA was wise but the current administration proves to be wiser. If anything, their accomplishment this year may not so much be a felt improvement of our economy but rather they stuck true to their promise of pursuing the “tamang daan” no matter how dark and hard it is. whether this temporary setback in a glorious economy proves to be better in the long run, only time will tell.

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This blog post is made possible by my Samsung Galaxy Y.

Pac Yu for President

If not Erap, then vote for Pac Yu.

When I first read that a certain Pac Yu will be running in the 2010 elections, I thought someone was throwing a really bad joke. But then it was no joke that Pac Yu, in real life Gabe Mercado, will be contending for the Philippine Presidency. Of course, he hopes no one will really vote for him, but then he swears he will be present in all Presidential debates and the sorts, not just to throw satirical comedy to the proceedings but to also poke thought-provoking questions to the serious presidential aspirants. Pac Yu is the bet of Pagbabago! a group of people who strongly oppose the administrative government and who even hopes to still oust GMA before the 2010 elections.

 

Pagbabago
Pagbabago

 

 

What?! Oust GMA? With less than a year in office, they still want to oust the current president? And then what? Have Noli De Castro ascend into power? Isn’t that incredulous? You want to oust the standard bearer of the administration, who is GMA, only to be replaced by the administration’s presidential bet, who is Noli. Isn’t that absurd? I sometimes wonder if Pinoys really have the capacity to learn from the mistakes of the past. Hasn’t the impeachment of Erap taught us anything? Will we forever resort to ousting leaders who we claim were voted by the ideals of democracy?

 

Vice-President Noli De Castro
Vice-President Noli De Castro

 

 

Vox populi, vox Dei. Yet a minority will always push that vox populi is  not vox Dei and as such is not authoritative. There would always be people who would claim that the election results were cheated and the current president is unfit to be in office. But when you ask them who they would want to replace the current president, and if the one who is qualified to replace him or her is worthy, they would suddenly clam up and then in an effort to redeem themselves would speak of all other reforms that you’re not really sure would be feasible or  not. No wonder I gave up listening to UP forums with OUST GMA themes.

 

Oust GMA Rallies
Oust GMA Rallies

 

 

I have always believed that the solution will be a total reform of the government – one that would also force the citizens to reform their views and thoughts of politics. Right now politics has been akin to showbizness – it is a circus of artists and greedy individuals pretending to be public servants. The few who are sincere in their oath of public duty are drowned in this farce we call a democratic government.

Unless the government type changes, unless the manner and type of leadership changes, then we can expect our elections to be simply charades invented for the entertainment of the jaded Pinoy and where comical characters like Pac Yu are always welcome to make their bid and appearance. Nothing is really accomplished and we simply have to go through the motions of it all – a façade for a deteriorating government.