Tuesday, October 07, 2014

More to come

This is my column today,  October 7, 2014.


There are days when things just do not make sense in this country, when God seems to be playing a joke on us—perhaps in an effort to make us sit up and notice just how farcical things have become, or just to illustrate even more painfully some lessons which we were supposed to have learned a long time ago. 
Our collective experience has shown that presidents of this Republic do have a fixed shelf life.  No matter how noble their intentions, no matter how grand their plans, no matter what they do while in office—they begin to stink after a few years. 
I don’t think there has ever been a president in this country who didn’t become unpopular towards the end of his or her term.  This is because the president of this country is expected to be superhuman—able to fix all the problems big and small.  Just last Saturday, while stuck in yet another gigantic monstrous traffic jam in EDSA, my friends started talking about what they would do if they were president of this country.  I was sorely tempted to remind them that the president is not the only elected official, or for that matter, the sole leader of this country, but realized that the president himself created the expectation when the continued insistence that only he can fix what is wrong with this country. 
On the same week that Aquino’s supporters (not necessarily his friends for what kind of friends would want to subject him to six more years of misery) launched the movement to perpetuate him in power, the results of the latest survey were released which indicated an overwhelming lack of mass support for a term extension.  That should have squelched the movement—immediately and effectively.  Sadly, it will take more than results of a survey to convince people of their folly.
On the same week that people behind the Movement for Reform, Continuity, and Momentum or More2Come surfaced, so did the usual problems that have dogged us for decades. 
The traffic situation in Metro Manila and in key cities has grown steadily worse in the last two years alone.  Worst, and even more embarrassing, is the fact that nobody—as in no one among the dozens of people in government—seems to have the faintest idea on what to do to solve the gridlock.  So when people launch a campaign with the promise of “more to come” can people be blamed for recoiling at the idea?
On the same week that we were being convinced that we were happily and successfully trudging along the straight and narrow moral path, the number one cop in the land was being tried in media for dubious deals made while serving as a police general.   The defense he was making was incredibly lame and he was obviously lying through the skin of his teeth when he claimed that his mansion was but an ordinary house, that the palace some businessmen built for him inside Camp Crame came with no strings attached, and that the 65-percent discount given to him when he purchased his luxury vehicle was above board.   Despite all these, he reportedly continued to have the support of the Palace and the President.   Yet we are being told we should hope for more to come?
To be fair, this administration has indeed made headway in some areas, particularly in advancing some critical reforms.  But it is very clear that the problems that we are facing as a country require real leadership. 
But there is an even more compelling reason why we should not lift the term limits of elected officials and, in fact, should strive to impose more rigid controls particularly at the local government level where political dynasties are deeply entrenched.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  We are being convinced that the emergency powers that the President is seeking is for specific purposes – but our experience has taught us, should have taught us better.  We cannot entrust our future to politicians.  And it is a foregone conclusion—our system eventually transforms everyone into becoming politicians.   What we now know is that everyone in this administration has become tradpol, the worst kind of politician there is.

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