• Jo Chanco

It's just the State Of the Nation

Like the last seven presidents before him, P-Noy is a traditional politician or trapo. His programs, policies and priorities bear the hallmark of trapos. The tincture of his governance--glutted with corruption, deception and counter-patriotic agendas that engender subservience to the U.S. Government and big business--is no different from that of past puppet presidents who ruled with a covert agenda to subjugate the Filipino masses.

This is evidenced in the way his administration utilizes the military to terrorize the countryside and force tribal populations to evacuate their ancestral lands in order to pave way for large scale mining operations. Also, to date there are already twenty seven cases of forced disappearances in P-Noys administration that's hardly investigated and meant to go on with impunity. Indigenous people resisting illegal mining and logging operations; government critics out to expose the government's un-nationalistic policies; leaders and organizers of labor unions; and farm peasants who witness human rights violations and unconstitutional actions by the military in the far rural areas—have been vanishing after run ins with state security forces.

On top of this, U.S. intervention has become ever more relentless yet insuperable in the thick of intensifying social unrest. Corruption remains, not only rampant, but institutionalized. And the fundamental issues that confuse our very sovereignty as a nation, and obscure the authenticity of our democratic government, are vastly ignored and deliberately made to linger unresolved.

A Penchant For B.S.

The Aquino administration's blatant betrayal of our national interests is wholly confirmed by P-Noy’s most recent SONA (State Of The Nation Address) which monotonously echoed his previous ones. There’s the incessant blaming of the previous administration and the opposition for the present dismal situation. There’s that cleverly injected but way overused glorification of his parents, Ninoy and Cory Aquino, which inadvertently when compared to him only makes him look like a useless potato. There’s the sickening announcements of tweaked economic statistics and cherry-picked data that supposedly reflects his administration’s success, but actually just makes him seem delusional. And lastly, there’s that blaming tone again, this time for all the current administration's failure to act on vital issues and its apparent sluggishness in responding to emergent dilemmas, pointing a finger at everyone else in government except himself.

In the course of the two-hour rhetoric, P-Noy bragged that because of his programs, businessmen now find it more attractive to invest in the country...but then didn’t mention how the alarming extent of corruption in government, as insinuated by back-to-back controversies on the PDAF and the DAP, has turned off a lot of would-be investors and driven away many foreign businessmen who were already located here. He took pride in his economic programs and said that the number of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) has decreased, omitting the ugly fact that our economy remains largely dependent on OFW remittances, with OFWs sending an estimated P1.2 trillion in remittances in 2014 alone. It became quite comical already after he asserted that his so-called programs for “inclusive growth” have already benefited some 4.4 million households, when the country’s overall poverty situation remains widely un-addressed. Widespread poverty and hunger, as a matter of fact, have characterized the last five years of the Aquino administration. He made no mention of recent polls that reveal some 51% of Filipino families consider themselves poor, 37% consider themselves starving, and some 66 million Filipinos couldn’t make ends meet. Moreover, ignoring mounting concerns raised by various citizens’ groups, P-Noy conveniently forgot to mention the fact that there are allegations of corruption and irregularities surrounding the said programs, ranging from fund misuse to ill practices such as “multiple entries” and “ghost beneficiaries”, and that these matters happen to be just meandering meanwhile in limbo as almost no serious effort has yet been initiated to resolve them.

Hopelessly Out Of Touch

P-Noy’s SONA showed as well how vastly disconnected he really is from the Filipino masses whom he claims are his boss. He must be, as he could not stop boasting that the 6.8 percent unemployment rate last year has been the lowest in a decade, and that his administration created many permanent jobs, when in reality--the labor sector has been wrangling for years against rampant practices of “union-busting”, “contractualization”, and the extensive violation of workers’ rights. A string of worker-oppressive policies have been made legal and brought to implementation across-the-board via a conspiracy between the government and capitalists. This cruel partnership between government and big business, however, stretches far beyond the realm of labor. P-Noy’s largest infrastructure project in the government-capitalist tie-up program which he calls PPP (Public-Private Partnership), the Laguna Lakeshore Development Project, is estimated to displace more than three million fisherfolk and residents if is pushes through. In 14 of such PPP projects, some 1.2 million informal settlers would see eviction from their communities and livelihood sources. In countless cases in the past, the demolition operations accompanying these evictions have turned bloody, with protesting citizens from marginalized sectors violently arrested and jailed if not ending up hospitalized from injuries.

To the dismay of a largely bewildered public, P-Noy, quite noticeably, avoided making any comments on more pressing issues, casually ditching a whole range of issues that matter most to Filipinos today. He was silent about the recent Mamasapano fiasco which, even as it is muddled with conflicting facts and allude to a broad cover-up carried out in its wake, ultimately places him at fault by the principle of command responsibility. The supposed architect of “Daang Matuwid” (the “straight path”) also seemed rather hushed about compelling environmental issues, particularly the sweeping ruination effected by large-scale mining to our natural resources, sanctuaries and habitats. Being the exemplar of this nation’s leadership, P-Noy was expected by masses of Filipinos to respond to the growing clamor to protect the lands, livelihood and environment of common citizens, as they stand vulnerable, even hapless, against the dominance of big business and foreign entities that mean to exploit them. Frantic laborers who believed he will champion their cause waited in vain for, at least, a promise of just compensation and benefits. But he announced nothing to give hope to the legions of landless farmers who face starvation, nor to the youth who dream of a better future, nor to the commuters made to pay more money for a degrading public transport system, nor to the frenzied consumers held captive by the greedy tycoons profiting from the government’s cruel agenda: the privatization of public utilities. As mute as P-Noy is about the very issues that need to be reviewed, discussed, and placed under the light of wisdom, so is he deaf to--the cries of the heroic OFWs who claim they are completely neglected by the government; to the appeals of tax payers who fed up with the corruption and the rotten politics; and to the prayers of ordinary citizens trapped in a never-ending struggle with anarchic street traffic, incessant power and water hikes, and the high cost of education. This is exactly how trapos are...callous, indifferent and utterly useless in the plight of our beleaguered nation.

Stubborn Protectors of the Rotten Status Quo

If the trapos today are already extremely out of touch with the masses, all the more will they grope so desperately in the coming years to have even just a semblance of a connection with what we regard as the Filipino majority. For now, only the veil of hypocrisy facilitated by our dysfunctional institutions shields trapos from the official confirmation that they lead with myopic mentalities, vain intentions, and false assumptions. But as trapos persist in the leadership, the bitter and vital truth will inevitably emerge highlighting the fact that their obsolescence is at hand. Trapos, eventually, will only be as useful as relics, as ornaments to commemorate the past, and no more than that.

Actually, trapos have long been outmoded, with their corruption schemes and dynastic, power-tripping egos. They have long proven that their brand of representation politics and exclusive governance are incapable of even just conceiving the appropriate policies to address the concerns of the bursting diversity inherent in a super-populous Philippine citizenry. We are approaching a time when the classification, segregation, and categorization of an infinitely diverse public will be close to impossible. At present, trapos are already inutile in the face of daunting tasks that require the identification and comprehension of myriad implications that have given given rise to conflicts and inequality in society. How can they possibly come up with needed resolutions or conceptualize the would-be functions of government years from now in this “exponentially accelerative” chaos we pretend to be a democracy? Constantly avoiding to accept the prerequisites for governing the new world unfolding before us, trapos will be reduced to just a bunch of confident but ignorant executors of error after error in government, clueless, overwhelmed and embarrassingly ineffectual. It would be like putting infantile brats in charge of the country already mired in nerve-racking dysfunction. The idiotic empowerment of trapos in government today adds certainty to the disintegration of our nation. Truly, we are better off without the likes of them affecting our country's fate or tinkering with the public coffers.

Our national interests are effectively held hostage by trapos. It's been like this for the longest time, but not simply because our democracy is faulty, as the proponents of Charter Change would immediately conclude. Even if we changed our system of government to a parliamentary form or to a federal type, we still wouldn't fare better as long as trapos rule. Even a dramatic shift to communism will not do, the ideology having been been founded on equally obsolete principles and world concepts. If, let's say, this country is gets suddenly taken over by the communist counterparts of outmoded thinkers, all Marxist-style attempts to genuinely represent the proletariat will likely fail, falling short even more in what would truly be confusing endeavors to satisfy the people’s demands.

Conceivably, all of the old government systems that do not adapt to the times and evolve to a faster, more efficient, and more global form are bound to crash in the near future. It's imperative to ask then, what might our traditional politicians know about these new frameworks of governance that should supplant the norm, because they probably know nothing of these, and perhaps couldn't care any less. Trapos will most likely even make a conscious effort to reject the proposed new structures of law and order, and despise the emergent forms of organizations needed to be incorporated in the system for a more capable governance of 21st century Philippines. Because of their love for the wretched status quo which permits them to hold on to positions of authority even as they rot in shallow self-enrichment modus, trapos will almost instinctively resist anything purposed to correct the situation. Many of these trapos will honestly find proposed solutions to governance absurd and unfounded, as they are still clouded by outmoded premises and principles they hold dearly based on assumptions that are no longer true and thus have become incompatible with the times. In particular, suffering a great loss of significance, are the principles of representation politics and the premise of consensus as basis for assuming "majority rules".

A Whole New Political Landscape

The principles of representation politics, consensus and majority rule were, for as long as we can remember, so essential to our democratic institutions that it is by these that we get to choose our leaders, execute justice, enact our laws, and basically determine the fate of our nation. At present, though most politicians are not so aware, these principles are fast losing their grounds, and the continued use of these failing assumptions as basis for government is becoming increasingly irrational.

The 21st century rapidly unfurls bearing an unbelievable transformation of the world. Manifesting as an array of spectacular mind-blowing changes that are exploding quite out of control in our midst, this transformation is extensive as it is intensive. It is happening in multiple facets of human life, affecting all races, all ages, all sexes, all socio-economic classes and all cultures. Cutting-edge technology, astonishing gadgets, incredible machines, astounding mobility, shocking discoveries, staggering spectacles, confounding new lifestyles, bizarre new relations, earth-shaking creations, breath-taking innovations, stupefying realities, startling new ways of production, and record-breaking feats...are simultaneously springing up and changing our world faster and faster to extents beyond recognition. The resultant way of life, meanwhile, aside from becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, is also growing exaggeratedly diverse. It’s a life of overwhelming possibilities where humanity is offered a range of outrageous and radical solutions to problems once thought as impossible to overcome. However, it is also a life that is highly transitory and fleeting, one that mercilessly drives to obsolescence many, perhaps most, of the things, ideas, and methodologies we’re accustomed to...sometimes in a blink of an eye.

Consequently, the most astute politicians, the most competent bureaucrats or the most charismatic of our leaders will all eventually end up scratching their heads, fumbling for answers and find themselves perennially at a loss for recourse, if they remain in their traditional mindsets and adhere to old-style politics. The sharpest intellectuals and the richest oligarchs alike; together with the most popular socialites, the rudest fascists, the most court-savvy jurists, and the most recalcitrant criminals—will all find their own, once-clear perspectives of society increasingly obscured by a brutal storm whirring with new diversities. And, actually, all of us, one way or another, will succumb to the purging forces of this major societal change that’s compelling practically everything in this world to cast out the old, to make way for the new.

The Filipino nation is not excluded in this transformation, and in fact is deep in the middle of it. As a people, we have in some ways changed considerably since the EDSA Revolution in 1986 when cellphones, the internet, and online surveys were still unheard of. It should follow, therefore, that our government must change too, in order to be effective. In this Age of Information, the ancient styles of secrecy and deception by governments must be discarded already. Instead of hoarding information, it would be more advantageous for governments today to share information. For, obviously, lying to the grumbling and restive masses who can simply Google up facts in an instant, wouldn’t be such a good idea.

Instead of employing harsh crowd control methods of old, dispersing street assemblies with water cannons and establishing truncheon-enforced barricades between leaders and protesters, the government would fair much, much better holding open forums or town hall-style meetings that will automatically serve as platforms for resolution-oriented dialogues and negotiations. The efficacy of government will increasingly depend on its ability to promote and generate cooperation, where even the protesters can be enlisted into action towards positive ends. It would just be dumb in this present day to be employing the brutal tactics used in medieval times by paranoid and narcissistic monarchs who care nothing about the crowd’s concerns but only think of their own. For if there would be a time when we could accomplish a genuine, dynamic and practically direct democracy--considering the technology and means readily available--it would be now. If indeed a new form of government is what we need, and if anyway one will eventually emerge, isn’t it only right that we, as a people, consult with one another as to how it shall collectively serve us best?

There is perhaps no better way to start our progressive transformation than by first dropping our old assumptions of how government should be, and from there accept the notion that none of us are experts, or are wiser than the other, in determining the shape and structure of the government that would be perfectly congruent to these ultra-modern times. For a leader today to act like he's cornered the market of concepts for good governance, the way P-Noy is, will not cut it the slightest bit. Not anymore.

Bullshit tactics, in a time when common technology could easily ascertain facts, can no longer be an option for presidents if they want to remain popular. Imagine telling a terrible lie to a public that can know and verify the truth in an instant and then spread it to millions of people at a time, faster than the speed of light. It's become quite easy to tell if a leader is fooling the people, or is making a fool of himself...like Noynoy is.

Ninoy and Cory Aquino certainly did not fight for the truth and dedicate their lives to its cause, only for their son to suppress and deny it with selective memory and whitewash. And it’s quite possible that they are now rolling in their graves, wondering why Noynoy, in his SONA, did not even care to mention anything about the most important ingredient for his “Daang Matuwid”, which he should have prioritized from Day 1, if he truly means to effect progress: The Freedom of Information Act, which has never been passed into law since the ratification of the Constitution in 1987. And it does compel people to ask, with Noynoy having spent most of his term already: Did he simply forget it? Or did he deliberately leave it out....because he’s trapo?

*Published in print version (Voice of the South, Volume 12, No. 9)