Dear Mr. Presumptive President
I hope you get to read this letter, although I believe that the chances are quite slim, or even nil. But I hope to still be able to reach you somehow.
First, congratulations on your victory.
In one television interview, you said that whatever you own now, and the perks you are enjoying, come from the people of this country. If this is so, when and how are you going to give these back to us, the Filipino people? Will you be doing the same strategy as your mother did, when she used to distribute wads of thousand-peso bills to the poor, to make them feel that she was their “star” that brightened their “dark nights”?
And will you also use one of her delusional “axioms”: “Perception is real, the truth is not”? If so, this means that you also believe that honesty and truthfulness are not important in running a government bureaucracy, just like what your mother believes in. Even your running mate, presumptive vice president Sara Duterte also believes that honesty is not “an issue” in becoming a political leader, since many among her kind are not honest and transparent as leaders.
As chief executive of this country, you are mandated to set the strategic leadership and decision-making that will, as you promised in your election campaign, bring us out of the “darkness” and rise again (“babangon muli”). Clearly, your primordial mandate is to make crucial and strategic decisions that will make our country “great again.” Your family and the many nameless but paid publicists have always painted the reign of your father and the years of martial law under him as “golden years” in our short republic’s history. Electing you to the same office that your father occupied for 21 years is the ticket that Filipinos believe they need toward that imagined and perceived greatness as a country. If this is so, then your first task should be addressing the myriad crises that afflict not only the very poor among us, but even among the so-called middle-class groups, many of whom have succumbed to doing unsavory practices in their professions and even outrightly engaging in illegal transactions just to stay financially afloat.
On top of this is the crisis in our education outcomes. Education is a core social institution that produces the needed human resources to propel us to make our country “great again.” This powerful institution has not been given its due place in society, as shown in the country’s past and present investments in education.
The first serious crisis we face now is the very low learning outcomes among our young and older children, and even among those in higher education. Many observers blame the COVID-19 pandemic to have created huge numbers of poorly educated Filipinos.
However, even before the pandemic struck, the country was already performing badly in learning outcomes, from early education to the higher levels. The deep impact of the pandemic only surfaced the deep cracks that were already shaking the foundations of education as our core institution early on.
I was deeply disturbed when I heard that one of your first pronouncements was to give the crucial role of education secretary to your running mate, Inday Sara. You said that as a “mother herself,” she is quite qualified for the job. If this is so, all the millions of Filipino mothers in the country would qualify. But why Sara? Is it because you share with her a vision of the young to be disciplined in a military way, that securitizes a social and cultural institution like education? Is it because you and she have insidious grand plans to make our youth even more gullible than many of them have become? Is this part of a social engineering scheme to create a nation of yes-individuals and not allow them to think critically, and express dissent legitimately when these are called for?
If your answers to my questions are positive, then the mandate of more than 30 million voters will have gone to waste, and we might not be able to see this nation be “great again.”
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