2012 hopes and fears
The latest SWS survey reports that 95 percent of Filipinos are hopeful that 2012 will be better, surpassing the 70-percent support base that President Aquino currently enjoys. With this level of hope, Filipinos might soon recover the self-confidence diminished by the last few decades.
In the 1950s, the Philippines, as Asia’s “sole Catholic country” and “first democracy,” was also called the “Pearl of the Orient.” But those flattering titles soon fell by the wayside as a succession of false leaders caused joblessness, poverty and even hunger. Despite all its natural riches and human potentials, the Philippines today is “the sick man of Asia.” A tenth of its people travel abroad to get cash to support their families as their economy offers few sustainable livelihood. And a countryside that used to boast of unequalled beauty and unbelievable biodiversity is now little more than a setting for environmental disasters (e.g., floods and landslides) and cruel political dynasties (e.g., Maguindanao massacre).
It’s not very clear where the guardians of Catholicism’s spiritual values and democracy’s human rights were while this deterioration was taking place. But it certainly seems that they weren’t very effective at curbing the greed, corruption and impunity now challenged by a President daring enough to risk a constitutional crisis in order to build a daang matuwid.
However, confidence and hope must not yet turn to euphoria. Many fears and challenges still lie ahead. P-Noy may have the overwhelming support of the people and the House of Representatives. But it takes only eight Senate votes to prevent conviction in the Senate impeachment trial, and people fear this number can be easily bought given the human weaknesses of many incumbent senators.
And as he waits for the denouement of this morality play, how is the Filipino supposed to eke out a living and feed his family? Few in government are proposing solid programs. The conditional cash transfer program is now being subjected to serious review by the urgent imperatives of disaster relief. Little is being offered to the middle class other than loan financing for housing mortgages and business ventures which applicants find difficult to get unless they are connected to financial “geniuses,” insider traders and fixers. And no matter how well-intentioned, the National Greening Program (NGP) is going to take a few years to become truly meaningful. Some solutions could be in agricultural industrialization and the technological convergence of computers and telecommunications—but thus far, no government office seems seriously headed in that direction.
The private sector must soon realize that P-Noy already has his hands full battling false leaders. This means that the private sector must continue its historical task of keeping the economy afloat. And 95 percent of Filipinos expressing hope for a better 2012 could well be a sign that OFWs, their families and friends—as well as other ordinary Filipino citizens—are ready and willing to do their share. False leaders, beware!
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