As if we had a better choice
January 2014 is only the year’s first month but it already shows how the rest of the year can go.
A low pressure area dumps its rains in northern Mindanao and kills about 40, an early glimpse of a weather pattern that can continue to be deadly. It did not cause undue alarm to the rest of the country simply because it was not deadly enough – except to the areas affected who were flooded, isolated and experienced typhoon season-like conditions in January.
As rains inundated northern Mindanao, the story of sub-standard bunkhouses was like a low pressure area for DPWH, NHA and the whole Yolanda reconstruction effort. It was not such a major scandal because there were not yet that many bunkhouses, because even Ping Lacson said there was no overpricing but that sub-standard materials were used. However, it rained on our parade so early in the year.
Then came the privilege speech of Sen. Bong Revilla. I can understand that being silent as when one is the center of a controversy can very well mean guilt. What I cannot understand is to say something that is worse than saying nothing. Accusing the President of trying to influence the senator’s vote during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Rene Corona in a meeting that was kept secret from public knowledge sounded discordant. It seemed very much that Sen. Revilla wanted to build up on a related topic that was also mentioned in another privileged speech by Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
If anyone can still recall, Senator Jinggoy accused the administration of trying to influence the votes of several senators during the same impeachment trial by approving project requests months after the conviction of Corona. It was a queer way of trying to influence – by doing something when everything was already over. But the speech did open up another issue that remains controversial – the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program). A case against the constitutionality of the DAPO was filed before, and entertained by, the Supreme Court.
Senator Revilla’s claim that he secretly met with the President did not make him appear less guilty because it had nothing to do with whether he stole people’s money or not, whether he is guilty of plunder or not. In fact, the speech reminded government of an interesting detail that had been brought up by the whistleblowers of the PDAF scam – that Napoles first dealt and gave kickbacks to former Senator Ramon Revilla, Bong’s father. I am sure that this little detail will be subjected to more scrutiny, and may merit another senator charged of plunder.
More interesting, though, is President Aquino’s own admission that he did meet with Sen. Bong Revilla but denied doing or saying anything inappropriate, that he did exhort the senator to judge on the merits of the case and his conscience. To some legal minds, and especially minds that already have expressed political opposition to P-Noy during his term, the very act of meeting with a senator to discuss the Corona impeachment was an impeachable act. It did not matter what was said, but that anything was said at all.
Of course, many other legal minds also say that the impeachment was a political process even more it was one that was purely legal. They claim that the president can discuss it even with then senator judges. What would be questionable was whether discussing the issue involved a presidential bribe, and implying that P-Noy had tried to do so two years after the fact seemed to bury Sen. Bong Revilla’s credibility even more. The negative response to the senator’s speech was almost absolute and he all the more became the object of scorn and derision.
Meanwhile, the trust and approval rating of P-Not remained solid and even affirmed by a similar +73 approval rating for how he was handling the Yolanda relief. After all the noise that his opponents tried to hype in the last two months, it does seem that it has remained that way – just pure noise that did not change how most of the Filipino people felt about the President.
My own belief is that the majority of Filipinos see through the motivation of P-Noy bashers – that political and personal enemies of the President just want to fail, and be removed from office for any reason, by any means. I believe that the haters of the President have themselves become discredited sources of accusations for their consistent attempts to bring down P-Noy.
I also believe that the people appreciate the gravity of the problems we all face as a nation, that corruption at all levels resists attempts of reform (as in rice smuggling), that poverty continues to be a national concern and a daily curse to its victims, that the post-Yolanda reconstruction effort needs the cooperation, not opposition, of all sectors, that climate change is pointing to more disasters, not less, and that the economy must sustain its growth so jobs and more investments can also grow.
The Filipino people know that solutions are in order, and Presidential bashers have almost never proposed any serious answers to our many problems – they just produce more accusations and criticisms. The propagandists, or demolition operators of P-Noy face the reality that Filipinos, especially the younger generations, want to make things better, not worse. Bringing down the President before the eyes of the people and the world is not viewed as the way to address our problems.
No nation is built on hate, except that nation which must first destroy itself by strife and violence following the more traditional bloody revolution. Civil war is the only pathway to instant change – with no assurance that the change will be for the better.
We must build our nation on faith, on sacrifice and hard work. We must seek to do things together, to choose bayanihan over greed, to choose harmony over divisiveness. This is the challenge of governance; this is also the challenge of good citizenship.
As if we had a better choice.
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