PH future depends on whether we can let go of our fear
The attention-seeking and politicking Bohol Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., who insisted that all relief goods, including those from the Red Cross, should be coursed through his office, showed us how opportunistic public officials can get in the way of humanity and common sense. As if Boholanos have not suffered enough from that devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake, they were subjected to a further misery of greater magnitude—the political ambitions of their local politicians callously taking advantage of human suffering!
It seems government corruption never fails to accompany calamities that visit us. For example, some P900 million in Malampaya funds, which were intended for “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” victims, were illegally funneled to corrupt politicians. And that was just the tip of one iceberg! Indeed, where there are poor and desperate victims of disasters, there will be no shortage of greedy politicians exploiting their helplessness. Sadly, the list of political misfits and miscreants preying on our poor countrymen keeps getting longer.
This has been made clearer in the last three months by the unearthing of the intricate web of corruption allegedly woven by Janet Napoles to steal PDAF allocations intended for poor farmers and calamity victims.
In his article in the New York Times titled “Fear and Radiation: The Mismatch,” David Ropeik noted that “the World Health Organization’s 20-year review of the Chernobyl disaster found that its psychological impact did more health damage than radiation did, and a principal cause of the population’s debilitating stress was an exaggerated sense of the dangers to health of exposure to radiation.” Like the people in Chernobyl, our fear has reduced us to inactivity and indifference. Fear has made us tolerate and even ignore events that normal people would find reprehensible and shocking. Not surprisingly, many now find corruption scandals in government tedious to talk about even in front of like-minded and sympathetic friends.
Let us remember that Filipinos were not always indifferent or fearful. Fear and apathy were not our usual predisposition. The early version of us, before the Spaniards came, were a courageous and industrious trading people. We actively sought out commerce not just among ourselves but with the Chinese and neighboring countries as well. And we were not always a fearful and stagnant lot. Pigafetta in 1521 witnessed, upon arriving in Samar, courtesy and kindness among the inhabitants. Traits that, I am happy to say, still exist with us today.
A century ago, we were able to produce the likes of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio whose works and struggle made our country the first republic in Asia. Rizal’s literary contribution even served as a source of inspiration for other Asian leaders. And a few decades ago, Ninoy Aquino and Chino Roces fought for democracy against dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Yes, we can and must overcome our fear. This is the moral thing to do. The future of the Philippines is not the “internal politics” of self-serving senators, congressmen and government officials. It is
letting go of our fear.
—ALLAN ESPINOSA, [email protected]
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