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The party is over

Six years and six trillion more in the national government debt. It is not so hard to maintain what already started as a popular presidency when one has the guts to borrow and borrow money without having to pay it. President Duterte is a septuagenarian. He will not be paying for what he borrowed. Some of us will to some extent, but definitely our children, their children and grandchildren will.

Now, Marcos begins his presidency and he with his economic team already has to plan on borrowing even more. There will be no Tallano gold that will suddenly sprout from the ground. There will also be no P20 per kilo rice without subsidizing almost everything in its production, processing, and marketing. Definitely, too, rice farmers need to earn enough to and they, too, will have to be subsidized.

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The party is over, the bill has to be paid. Not Duterte’s bill, not Marcos’s bill, but yours and mine and every Filipino’s plus hundreds more yet unborn. That is why we already hear of new loans and, worse, of raising taxes. Taxes when the penalty for not paying is inapplicable except by force because the law on tax payment is in limbo until the Marcos estate pays theirs.

It is not as though we have not experienced hardship before. However, when the Philippine government went bankrupt, that was during martial law and that part of Philippine history is being erased. Or, not erased but revised dramatically as the golden era. That means we cannot recall in our DNA the experience and lesson of how to go through a bankruptcy and recover after a few decades. We just have to go through the mill again, painfully.

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We asked for this, actually.

We are not responsible for the Ukraine invasion of Russia that is forcing the prices of essential commodities to rise above the Filipino’s capacity to pay without cutting into their food budget. Yes, the food budget which comprises the biggest component of the D & E expenses. Already, inflation is rising without any sign of relief as the Russian invasion is not slowing down.

We are not responsible either for Covid-19 and the unimaginable expenses and loans incurred by the government to avoid catastrophes leading to massive discontent. The PhilHealth and Pharmally scandals are only the ones we know about but we paid, and will keep paying, for everything.

But we are responsible for preparing ourselves for contingencies such as economic hardship by having the best of governance from local to national. In the worst of times, only the best of leadership and governance can motivate a people to brave the storms with little complaint and an abundance of fighting spirit.

In the core, it is always inspiration that gets people through the harshest trials of life, from economic difficulties to even wars. Look at Ukraine. After three months of relentless attacks by a giant military power, Ukrainians are still fighting and slowing down the Russians. Their cities and towns are being mangled by bombs, millions of women, children, and the elderly have fled Ukraine to seek safety elsewhere, yet the Ukraine men can actually beat Russian soldiers without bombs from Russia.

How are they able to do it? Patriotism, courage, and inspiration.

The present trials of Filipinos are mild versus that of Ukrainians. We have a rebellion from the militant Left and we have a growing paranoia from a pressured Right. It is not the kind of pressure that is born from fear of losing because the Left simply cannot win by force. But government forces and agencies are pressured by both perception and potentiality. And this pressure always makes the Right turn intimidating, not inspiring.

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Where, then, will inspiration come from? If the campaign can tell us a little about inspiration, then it is clear that millions of active volunteers who sacrificed time, talent, and treasure did it for Leni, not Marcos. I cannot say much about election activities including rallies involving the Marcos camp except for videos of cash payouts, raffle tickets, and universal experience of vote-buying. I included vote-buying but cannot attribute it to the Leni camp that never had funds in the first place.

Yet, it matters little that one side is the legal winner and the other is the legal loser. Because the party is over and the bill has to be paid. It is our bill, not theirs. Politicians may have spent it but we pay it. Politicians may be stealing the money, spending the government’s budget, but the people pay it. Again, that means you and me, the red 31 million voters and the pink 15 million – no matter how inflated or deflated the real numbers.

From another flank, there is China controlling more of our waters than our navy or coast guard, telling our fishermen where they cannot fish like true owners of our territory. It is best to watch and learn from Ukraine, and consider that China may be restraining itself only because of other countries.

Patriotism, courage, and inspiration. No matter what, we have to call on our patriotism, courage, and inspiration – all from within if it cannot be stimulated from the outside. Because we cannot lose our love of country, our resolve, and our motivation for our own sakes and for the future of our families. And, if we can, we must even continue to think of those we suspect of selling their votes and their future – with ours in tow.

The party is over and the bill must be paid. There may be little in the wallet but your pocket of hope is deep. And in our heart of prayers, let us remember one line of the famous Desiderata poem, which goes:

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

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TAGS: Debt, Duterte, Government, marcos, pandemic
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