Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WHY I WILL NOT VOTE FOR JOJO BINAY


By Nathaniel von Einsiedel 

The recent columns of Randy David and Sara Soliven de Guzman in the major dailies give us a pretty good picture of what a Binay presidency would be like -- it will be a disaster. The problem, however, is that the average Filipino does not read or understand their analytical writings. Anyway, I agree with them a hundred percent, not just because I believe in their analysis, but because I had worked directly with Binay in the past and, therefore, have personal knowledge of how he thinks and does things. And it is based on this that I will not vote for him come 2016 

I have known Jojo Binay personally since we were in college at UP Diliman. He was a fraternity brother of one of our neighbors in Area 1 where I grew up. He frequented our neighbor's house and that's how we got to know each other. After college, it was already in 1986 when I saw Binay again, when he was appointed by then President Cory Aquino as acting mayor of Makati and later on as Governor of Metro Manila in a concurrent capacity. Because of my job at the Metro Manila Commission, I got to meet with Binay on a regular basis, often assisting him in his meetings with the Metro Manila mayors and senior officials of national agencies. On many occasions, I had to join him on early morning site inspections and even late evening meetings. 

My working relations with Binay took a break when I resigned from government accepted the invitation of the United Nations and worked abroad from 1990 to 2004. When I returned home, we revived our relationship. From 2004 up to a few years ago, my consulting firm, CONCEP, was engaged by Makati City for a number of projects, such as the Makati Pabahay Project, Makati Development Agenda for the 21st Century, the Jupiter Street Urban Renewal Plan, the MACDA Housing Project, the Barangay Rizal Disaster Oriented Urban Redevelopment, and the Makati Poblacion Heritage Conservation Program. In the course of working on these projects, I had to confer with Binay frequently and thus developed a deeper insight on how he thinks and operates as a public official. 

It is based on this that I've become convinced that Binay is not the kind of president I would vote for president in 2016. My reasons are as follows: 

1. He will befriend you if you can help him achieve his personal objectives, and will not hesitate to dump you when you're no longer useful to him. He is a master of charming people whom he can use to further his personal ambitions. But once they're of no use to him, or don't like to work with him anymore, he will readily get rid of them and fabricate a story on the reasons why. 

2. He is a congenital liar. He has perfected the practice of looking ​ at ​you straight in the eye and lie without blinking an eyelash. His political ads project a lie. By claiming that he will do to the country what he did in Makati, he creates an expectation that is intended to mislead people. Common public perception of Makati is that of a first world city -- high rise offices and condos, glitzy malls, beautiful parks and myriad jobs. But that is Ayala's Makati, covering only 6 of the city's total of 33 barangays. He makes people believe that he can transform the whole country into Ayala Makati's likeness. He knows that is not true. He had no hand in Ayala Makati's development, and he knows he cannot replicate this anywhere. 

3. He wants to perpetuate people's dependency on him, especially the poor. He doesn't believe in genuine development that uplifts the living and working conditions of the poor. This is reflected in Makati's dole-out approach to urban management, for example, its education and health programs. His political ads project the message that this dole-out system can be replicated throughout the country. He knows that the only reason he can do that in Makati is because the city has the biggest revenue among LGUs, all due to the thousands of the biggest firms located in the Ayala part of the city. 

4. He wants complete control over all programs and projects. The programs and projects of Makati city's departments have to be approved by him directly. Thus, in Makati's annual budget, most if not all programs and projects are listed under the Office of the Mayor, and only he can authorize budget releases. Binay also established a system that consolidates the incomes of all of Makati's barangays and directly controls the approval of and budget releases for all barangay projects. But look at the majority of the barangays -- from Kasilawan, Tejeros, Sta. Cruz, Singkamas, Bangkal, Guadalupe Viejo, Pitogo, Pinagkaisahan, Guadalupe Nuevo, all the EMBO barangays, and even his own San Antonio. There is so much poverty in these areas that no amount of dole outs throughout his as well as his wife and son's terms of office have been able to diminish much less eradicate poverty. The incidence of poverty in the premier and richest city in the country is appalling.

5. His pro-poor actions are all for show. He actually loathes the poor. On a number of occasions when we were discussing in private the housing projects for the poor, he used the term "salaula" (Tagalog for "uncouth" or "uncivilized") to describe them. He has perfected the act of conveying his "concern" for the poor by, for example, setting aside time and a percentage of the city's budget for the poor's "KBL" -- kasal (weddings), burol (wakes), and libing (burial). When we were planning the MACDA housing project, h​is approach to the issue of relocating the informal settlers was to pay them off without caring where they were to be resettled as long as they vacated the site.
6. When we proposed a massive workforce development program to include the poor in the productive milieu and benefit from the jobs available in the city, Binay turned it down, criticising it as "small-time." But he did not offer any alternative. It was obvious that he did not want the poor to improve their economic well-being and status. He wants them to be perpetually beholden to and dependent on him, and therefore, under his complete control. 

7. His management style is 101% patronage politics. There is absolutely nothing developmental in his system of management. He may have introduced some innovations, but these have been mainly for his and his family's benefit rather than for the good of the people. He criticizes the Aquino administration as being inept, lazy, and slow. But what has he done, as Chairman of the Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council for the past 5 years, to reduce the housing backlog? What has he done in the barangays of Makati to address poverty? Are the living and working conditions in the poorer barangays any better than before he first became mayor? 

When my team and I started consultancy projects in Makati in 2004, its incidence of poverty was higher than the national average. Binay was not alarmed by this and, in fact, seemed to be pleased with it. Perhaps because it meant he could easily manipulate the poor. Today, after almost three decades under the Binays, Makati's overall quality of life, especially in the 27 poorer barangays, isn't much better. 


Is this the kind of person who will be our next president? I certainly don't think so...

The Joy of Lent







Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, they neglect their appearance so that they may appear to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace. Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with a sincere desire to grow in love, preparing myself worthily to celebrate the mysteries of your passion, death and resurrection.
Petition: Lord, help me learn to change what needs to change in my life.

  1. Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving: As we begin the Lenten season, we are reminded of the need to make reparation for our sins and be reconciled with God. Any attempt to build a spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is building on sand. Prayer purifies our intentions and relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from our comfort and from ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our true wealth is not in things, but in the love of God. We all need to do a reality check on our spiritual lives to make sure we are committed to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

  1. Lose the Show: Jesus is severe in criticizing the hypocrites who parade their works before others to get attention. Such parades are of no use in pleasing God or making up for our sins; they only add to our sinfulness. He encourages us to pray in private, to fast and give alms in secret, without calling the attention of others to what we are doing. In this way we can be sure we are doing all for love of God and not for love of self. Those who make an outward show of piety or generosity “have already received their reward” in this world, and they store up no treasure in heaven. Let us work silently and discreetly, with no other intention but pleasing God alone.

  1. Joyful Sacrifice: Nothing brings us closer to Christ than walking alongside him and doing the things he did for love of God the Father. During Lent, God invites us to purify our hearts and minds and to turn our intentions back to him. Christ’s public ministry was lived each day in loving obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lenten program should reflect that same simple, yet demanding, obedience and love. What can I do for God today? What sacrifice can I offer that will be pleasing to him? Once I decide on it, I will carry it out with no one else knowing.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the grace to begin this Lent with great enthusiasm and love. Help me live it with joy, knowing that I am living it in your presence to please you and you alone.
Resolution: I will make a Lenten program of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Feb 26 2016: 30th anniversary of the stupidification of the Philippines

February 10, 2016
by benign0
 
The 26th of February this year marks the 30th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA “people power” revolution. Three decades ago from this day, the “evil” regime of President Ferdinand Marcos was supposedly toppled by a popular uprising that was sparked by an army mutiny led by then General Fidel V Ramos accompanied by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The “revolution” that followed then came to be associated with the Aquino-Cojuangco clan who, over the next 30 years, embedded in Filipinos’ heads the notion that it was the “heroism” of the noted members of that clan — Senator Benigno Aquino Jr and his wife, the late former President Cory Aquino — that inspired that revolt.
edsa_people_power_revolution
Thus started the systematic stupidification of the Philippines.
This supposed stupidification of the Philippines was carried out by the Cult of Yellow that came to surround the Aquino and Cojuangco clans. Not only did they carry it on, they took that stupidification campaign to new heights and embedded the mentality deeper in the Filipino psyche than any previous regime had.
Interesting, indeed, that the 30th anniversary marks the completion of that process. The crop of idiots running for the presidency in the May 2016 elections is proof of this. Filipinos’ embrace of national stupidity is such that they actually continue to pompously debate the merits and demerits of each candidate as if one has any real advantage in virtue over the other that is of any consequence to the fortunes of the Philippines over the next six years.
Unfortunately for an entire generation of Filipinos, the ascent of Cory Aquino to Malacanang was the seminal milestone that introduced the idea to them that stupid and incompetent people could actually aspire to be president and actually succeed at attaining that aspiration.
What is really remarkable about the 2016 elections is that all of the candidates are idiots. Compare that to 2010 when only one of the candidates was an idiot. That idiot succeeded at winning the presidency handily beating far more competent and qualified candidates. We all thought that was quite funny even as it marked the beginning of the final phase of the Philippines’ stupidification. Turns out that the laughs were premature. The 2016 election campaign has proven to be even more stupid. This time idiots are competing against fellow idiots.
Amongst the crop of presidential candidates in the running, none of them is at a calibre that is worthy of comparison to the stalwarts of Philippine politics that once presumed to aspire for the presidency. This time, Malacanang suffers from a stigma of being perceived as the dunce seat where the dumbest politician of the land gets to sit.
And so, we see today, none of the good ones have joined the race to occupy that office in the palace in 2016. Only the dumb, stupid, and clownish ones have joined that race. Filipinos, for their part, are cheering them on — like a bunch of jailbirds crowding around a cockroach race betting cigarettes over which bug scurries the fastest.
That’s Philippine politics 30 years after the 1986 people power “revolution”. That’s the Philippines — paatras ang asenso.
When will Filipinos start to get it — that they’ve been had by a Yellow movement that sold them empty promises and delivered a nation that is even more humbled than it ever has been in its history? So far there seems to be scant evidence that Filipinos have learned anything about what being a truly free and democratic society is really all about. We see it in the electoral bevaviour being showcased today and in the quality of the national “debate” surrounding these bozos clambering all over one another for a piece of the media spotlight.
There are no issues at stake, no ideologies to propagate, and no visions to inspire. All Filipinos get for the taxes being wasted on this “democratic” exercise is a bit of entertainment on their TV screens to distract them from the wretchedness of their existence.
And so the question is this:
What specifically are we supposed to be “celebrating” on the 26th February?
We hope that in the process of answering this confronting question, Filipinos will, at least, take stock of what their country has become over the last 30 years.

Religion as the Cause of Conflict is just another Fashion Statement

February 10, 2016
by ChinoF
 
Recent events, such as terrorism committed by Muslims, have led to some people banking on it as a rationale for wanting religion wiped off the face of the Earth. Atheists especially are excited, using this as proof of their claim that religion is the cause of all conflict. However, I disagree. It is still a slippery slope to prove this since most experiential knowledge has shown that violence occurs for many other reasons other than religion. Yet the militant anti-religionists are vehement in promoting this view to the point of treating it like Gospel truth and perhaps even insulting others who disagree. Let’s get back to Earth, then.
skull_21turkana1-master1050
One of the things in the news lately is the discovery of a possible stone age massacre site – perhaps the earliest known massacre. Archaeologists working in Nataruk, Kenya, found over 27 skeletons of people who may have been killed with various types of weapons. One skeleton of a pregnant woman was even found in a position where she was bound hand and foot. The event is dated to 10,000 years ago based on the evidence. If anyone believes the stone age people were non-violent and pure – this should tell them otherwise.
Whatever really happened, it is hard to connect religion to it. According to the Reuters report, the victims may have possessed food that the attackers wanted – leading to one conclusion that it was a pillaging attack. Even if the attackers might have held a religious belief of some sort – which could not be proven – it could also not be proven if this was the motivation of the attack. At least one can conclude, there was conflict, murder and violence long before religion, much more organized religion, existed. It thus most likely precludes the thesis that religion is the cause of warfare.
What would then be cause of conflict and violence? I have written in my personal blog about it, using the example of two men finding a well or oasis in the desert. Because they perceive it as a limited resource, each doesn’t want to share it. They each want exclusive ownership of this. The way to resolve this: kill the other one. The successful killer owns the well and rules over it. For me, this is the most basic way to describe conflict in the world. It’s mostly about resources and domination.
Back to the case of Islam, while I have read resources saying that the Quran in some verses encourages modern violence, many Muslims have lived without doing harm to anyone. In the end, whatever religion one belongs to, the decision to live ethically falls to the individual person. Yet the paranoia being spread in the Internet tries to gives the idea that Muslims are “sleeper murderers,” and will one day attack you even if you’re kind to them. This is baloney that tries to encourage you to be the first one to be violent.
Muslims are not engaged in a world conquest mission to force their culture onto other nations and parts of the world. This is a made-up story to make people feel threatened and to increase hatred and anger against Muslims. So when a military like the U.S. decides to invade another country, which these days tends to be a Muslim country, these people riled up in hatred will support it. But what the U.S. and participating invaders are really after are resources, like oil. Something that Mnar Muhawesh of Mint Press News explained in an excellent big-picture way.
Also, the claim that the Cologne attacks are part of an Islamic cultural effort to “conquer the world” or part of a so-called rape game are untrue. German police have already revealed that the sexual assaults are actually a modus of a criminal gang that uses the groping and other sexual assault acts to cover up their stealing or robbing their victims. Some Muslims, a few refugees, Arab-looking men and North Africans may be involved; but it is not an act of religion. It is the act of a crime group. In related news, the 13-year-old Russian-German girl who earlier claimed to have been raped by refugees or migrants after disappearing on Jan. 11 rescinded her story and admitted that she made it up.
Perhaps these overly idealistic anti-religionists should also realize that religion, as demonstrated by the explanation about Islam above, is part and parcel of culture these days. But for sure, even if you eliminate religion and any form of spirituality, conflict would still remain. As explained above, there are so many reasons people can find for hurting and killing someone. Get Real Philippines has always pointed to culture as the cause of many problems. Culture consists of the things that you actually believe and practice in everyday life. Certain cultures can have their own reasons for killing people even without religion.
cain_and_abel
For example, teens and gangs today. They don’t fight because of religion. Some want to kill someone because they were insulted or the other person seduced their girlfriend (or even simply because)! Look at the Maguindanao Massacre: it was done for political reasons. Really, people kill for the pettiest things.
Thus, if religion was eliminated from the world, violence won’t be significantly reduced; it’s likely to remain the same. If you really want to eliminate violence, why not eliminate the entire human race, since violence seems natural to humans. Or, change the nature of people in how they behave towards each other. That’s probably why religion was founded in the first place, to introduce through spirituality the idea that since we are all created by and equal before a certain deity, so we shouldn’t be hurting each other. But of course, ideas throughout time become warped and movements get hijacked, so sadly, we are back to square one.
I will agree with what some people from both pro- and anti-religion camps would say: the best way anyone can show that their way works best is through their personal conduct and example. Show us you live ethically, we’ll believe you.

ChinoF

Making "basag" the trip of erring Filipinos one myth at a time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

TRUE WORSHIP



Mark 7:1-13

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. [For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).] So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ´This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.´ You disregard God´s commandment but cling to human tradition." He went on to say, "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ´Honor your father and your mother,´ and ´Whoever curses father or mother shall die.´ Yet you say, ´If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"´ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Gospel and for all the truth it teaches me. Thank you for warning me of attitudes and dispositions that could become temptations for me. I love you for your goodness and mercy, and I entrust myself into your loving hands.

Petition: Lord, help me to serve you sincerely, in truth and in love.

“This people honors me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from me.” Jesus calls his disciples to authenticity. Too often so-called disciples give the impression of following him, while at the same time accepting sensual loves and lusts in their heart. Although the Pharisees display the outward trappings of holiness, the way they treat Jesus and others betrays their true character. Jesus would call them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 15:27): clean and bright on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones within. Self-righteousness would be their downfall. Such dispositions may lend the proud man certain short-term security, but it will always be illusory since it is not rooted in the truth. Is there any way in which I also pay tribute to God with my lips but say something else in my heart, or behave contrariwise in my actions.

“The worship they offer me is worthless.” True worship begins with humility, when the soul recognizes that it possesses no good in and of itself, but that all of its goodness comes from God. The Pharisees offered no real worship to God since, in effect, they worshipped only themselves by relying more on their talents and goodness than on the goodness that comes from God. It is not insignificant that when Jesus describes a Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he says “The Pharisee prayed this prayer to himself” (Luke 18:11). How can I make sure that my prayer is truly devoted, meaning that I am addressing Our Lord with the words of my heart?

"You make God’s word null and void.” The Pharisees used the talents and gifts God had given them not for God’s glory, but for their own personal gain, whether that gain consisted of praise and admiration or personal comfort and ease. True worship of God, truly placing God above all else, involves using the things God created as means to reaching him. As number 226 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for my life and all the good things you have given me. Help me to realize that you have created everything and that all I have is from you. May I use all I have to serve others and as a means to come closer to you, the source of all good.

Resolution: I will examine my conscience to see if I am using any of my gifts and talents to glorify or serve only myself. If so, I’ll strive to put these same gifts at the service of God.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Anti-Marcos movements highlight a lack of national vision for the Philippines

February 6, 2016
by benign0
 
We hear a lot about clamours to block the candidacy of vice presidential candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr coming from the alleged ‘victims’ of the rule of his father, the late former President Ferdinand E Marcos. The most recent is one reportedly organised by “a coalition of martial law victims” calling their movement the ‘Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang’ or ‘Carmma’. According to its ‘lead convenor’ Bonifacio Ilagan; its members are fighting a “grand scheme to recapture Malacañang,” presumably being perpetrated by Bongbong Marcos.

Well now, but of course there is such a grand scheme that is being mounted, Mr Ilagan. It’s called the election campaign of Mr Marcos. To win a national election, it really does help to have such a “grand scheme”. Otherwise, you are less likely to win against your rival candidates who also presumably have grand schemes of their own to win the same election. One needs to be organised to win a national election. And, usually, campaigns are organised around a grand scheme of some sort on account of the office at stake being, itself, a grand achievement to attain.

Thing is, however, these anti-Marcos “activists” who we can generally lump into a community of politically-passionate people who subscribe to the notion that Never Again should a Marcos be ever allowed to sit in Malacanang, are selling Philippine democracy short. The fact that they fear that another Marcos winning a top national office in an election will necessarily precede the Philippines’ descent into another dark age of authoritarianism shows how little faith they have in the country’s democratic institutions.
ferdinand_marcos_neveragain
Is Bongbong Marcos really that dangerous or that vile a man that he will plunge the Philippine back into a dictatorship when he ascends power? Or is Philippine democracy so rickety an edifice that it will simply crumble under the imagined weight of the Marcos family’s supposedly ‘evil’ agenda?

The screaming fits being thrown by these “Never Again” activists are more about what the Philippines cannot be again. In that regard, the Philippines as a society suffers from a fatal failure of imagination. Filipinos cannot seem to imagine a country that is something and can only throw hissy trantrums over what it should not be.

The even funnier thing about these “Never Again” movements is the logic they apply to their advocacy to block Bongbong Marocs (or, for that matter, any other Marcos) from holding executive office. Their advocacy is based on the idea that Bongbong Marcos, simply by virtue of being a Marcos, is responsible for the alleged atrocities perpetrated during the Martial Law years; never mind that Marcos Jr was just a teenager at the time.

What is interesting here is that the alleged architect of martial law himself, Juan Ponce Enrile (who was a middle-aged adult during the Martial Law years), is currently a sitting Senator of the republic. Indeed, Enrile even served as Senate President for five years from 2008 to 2013. Where was the outrage during the time Enrile was, himself, carving out a lofty niche for himself in Philippine politics after the collapse of the Marcos regime in 1986?

The “Never Again” mob seems to prefer to set its sights on a man who was just a kid during the Martial Law years while, at the same time, granting a peachy Get-Out-of-Jail pass to a man who was one of the powers-that-be directly effecting the alleged “atrocities” of Marcos’s Martial Law machine. Yet, groups like Carmma insist that their movement has “no political backing” and that they are “not partisan for any particular vice presidential [candidate] as a group.” The timing of the launch of their “coalition” makes that claim quite suspect.

Those who continue to stomp their feet and gnash their teeth over the continued presence of the Marcos family in Philippine politics should just get over it. The opportunity to exact “justice” for their victimhood had lapsed a long time ago. If there really was a crime, why is no one in jail? Whose fault is it that there is no one true big fish held to account for the alleged crimes of the Marcos years?

The trouble with Filipinos is that those questions are not asked as a matter of institutionalised routine. They are, for the most part, asked only when politically-motivated and are not inspired by a truly ingrained ethic of seeking and effecting justice as a matter of normal day-to-day business. This is why nothing changes in the Philippines — because so-called ‘reformists’ themselves are often driven by a less-than-noble agenda at worst or, even at best, a mere small-minded goal of a nature consistent with the Philippines’ renowned heritage of smallness. No big strategic visions — only smallish goals meant to gratify smallish interests.

In the case of Carmma, what is the long-term end game beyond blocking a Marcos vice presidency? What happens next if that small goal is realised?

Unfortunately, that big void where vision should have been in the national discourse surrounding this election is, as usual, still there and still unfilled. Filipino politicians keep paying lip service to the notion of “nation building”. In reality, however, there is not much of a nation to build — because Philippine society has not much of a vision for would-be builders to work with.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Daang Matuwid brought the Philippines straight down the highway to hell

February 5, 2016
by Ilda
 
Daang Matuwid. What the hell does it mean? Its literal translation in English is “straight path”. Without any context, it does not make a lot of sense. Straight path to where, exactly? However, its ambiguity helped launch the Presidency of a non-performing lawmaker Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III back in 2010. A lot of people assumed that he was talking about taking the country on a straight path to greatness. Fast-forward six years later, more people now realize he just led the country on a straight path to even greater chaos.
President BS Aquino: Focused on persecuting his enemies instead of fixing essential infrastructure
President BS Aquino: Focused on persecuting his enemies instead of fixing essential infrastructure
The idiotic thing is, BS Aquino’s anointed one, Presidential candidate Mar Roxas is promising to continue Daang Matuwid if he gets elected into office in the next election. It’s as if it was so successful that Roxas can just ride on its wave and allow it to propel him to victory.
Now I know we all have to be a little bit delusional to survive in this world but some people like Roxas and his supporters seem to be more delusional than the rest of us. He is in denial that the current government’s performance in the last six years was appalling. Likewise, Roxas is assuming that the voting public is too stupid to be fooled by their mantra for the second time. That just proves that he is out of touch with reality.
For the sake of clarity, let us help Roxas and his supporters understand what Daang Matuwid means for us:
1. Daang Matuwid means patronage politics.
Former DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno admitted a lack of experience handling hostage crises.
Former DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno admitted a lack of experience handling hostage crises.
When BS Aquino was still campaigning, he promised to “level the playing field”. I don’t know if he meant something else because he did exactly the opposite. He appointed a lot of his friends and relatives to sensitive positions in government and refused to fire them or at least sanction them when they failed to perform their duties. The list is long but we can start with an incident on the President’s first few months in office involving his shooting buddy former Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno.
BS Aquino cleared Puno immediately of any wrongdoing even after the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) recommended that administrative and criminal charges be filed against Puno among others for their failure to prevent the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists during the Rolando Mendoza hostage crisis in August 2010. This incident was the first major fiasco of the BS Aquino administration but hardly anyone, especially those allied with him, got sacked or was punished for it.
A more recent display of patronage politics involves another close friend, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima. Even after the Ombudsman suspended Purisima for a separate corruption case, BS Aquino still ordered Purisima to plan and execute Oplan Exodus – an operation that resulted in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers. So far, Purisima is still being handled with kids’ gloves. BS Aquino’s refusal to trust people outside of his circle of friends seems to have compelled him to use his friend Purisima for a covert operation, neglecting the fact that he was breaking the PNP chain of command.
DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya enjoys full presidential support despite the deterioration of the MRT under his watch.
DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya enjoys full presidential support despite the deterioration of the MRT under his watch.
As mentioned earlier, the list of BS Aquino’s friends in sensitive posts is long but we still have to give special mention to those who are directly making millions of lives miserable every day. There’s Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio ‘Jun’ Abaya who still enjoys the full support of the President despite the deterioration of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) system and nightmarish traffic condition on Metro Manila roads.
Another person who has charmed BS Aquino is Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman. It’s hard to imagine how in the world she managed to get the President under her spell because the rap sheet against her is already quite thick, but she still manages to garner praises from BS Aquino nonetheless. He’s probably happy with the way she hides the street dwellers out of sight at the last minute before international delegates arrive for high-profile events. Either that or he’s also into rainbow colored hairdos. Soliman’s handling of the distribution of relief goods for typhoon Yolanda victims was disgusting and inhumane. Instead of giving the food donations to survivors, her department allowed P2.8M worth of relief goods for ‘Yolanda’ survivors to rot in warehouses. It’s baffling the way she did not authorize the distribution of these supplies to the poor victims right away.
DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman allowed Php2.8m worth of relief goods for Haiyan victims to rot.
DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman allowed Php2.8m worth of relief goods for Haiyan victims to rot.
Let’s not forget to mention Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado. Honrado is said to be very close to the Aquino family, a relationship going back to the Cory Aquino days. The “laglag-bala” extortion scheme that remains unresolved at the international airport was still not reason enough for him to get sacked.
2. Daang Matuwid is for ignoring the constitution or rule of law.
With the help of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, BS Aquino got away with using public funds to buy favors. Granted, this practice of giving pork barrel to members of Congress was done by previous administrators too, but at least they did not pretend to be for Daang Matuwid. Abad was the architect behind the transfer of funds that were not utilized by one government agency to another without approval from the legislative branch of government. He declared it as “savings” and used cryptic jargon to refer to it — “Disbursement Acceleration Program”, also known by its acronym, DAP. The Executive branch used its own discretion in spending it. You can give them brownie points for being honest enough to admit they wanted to accelerate the spending of the funds. They really did it all in haste.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad: Chief architect of the criminal Disbursement Acceleration Program scam.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad: Chief architect of the criminal Disbursement Acceleration Program scam.
While the Supreme Court ruled DAP unconstitutional, their ruling gave BS Aquino and Abad an escape clause. BS Aquino’s good friends in the high court agreed that the concept behind DAP was presumed to have been done in “good faith”. Never mind that DAP funds were allegedly used for bribing senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial in 2012. The senators who voted to convict were allegedly given Php50 million after the trial and those who voted otherwise did not get any. It’s hard to find evidence that spending Php144 billion in DAP funds was done in good faith. The country’s infrastructure remained decrepit. It seems ambiguity has been a lifesaver for BS Aquino and his ilk. It works because regular folks cannot comprehend legal and accounting jargon and couldn’t be bothered to understand their implications.
You’d expect the only son of so-called “democracy icons” to respect what some people refer to as the “Cory Constitution” (it was during her term that the current constitution was drafted) but, no. BS Aquino attempted to extend his Presidential term a few times in the past, something the Constitution does not allow. He kept floating the idea of the need to continue the “gains” of his administration. But the idea quickly drew flak from both his critics and some of his own supporters who thought he has become too full of himself.
Presidential candidate Mar Roxas: Out of touch with reality in his use of 'Daang Matuwid' as cornerstone of his campaign
Presidential candidate Mar Roxas: Out of touch with reality in his use of ‘Daang Matuwid’ as cornerstone of his campaign
As discussed many times in previous articles, BS Aquino’s number one violation was in denying his political enemies the right to presumption of innocence. He went after former President Gloria Arroyo and former Chief Justice Corona like a hound by attacking them in front of the media every chance he got. He used his influence on the different branches of government and media outlets to demonize his other enemies in the Senate as well. If he can do that to people who held powerful positions in government in the past, ordinary people do not have a chance of getting a fair trial with the kind of environment he created — one that was vindictive.
If he is genuine about wanting reforms, Presidential aspirant Roxas or at least his PR guys would try to understand how the public perceives Daang Matuwid. It has gone past its use-by date. Who knows? Maybe once he realizes what people actually think it means, he will come to his senses and drop the pretense.
The problem with some people is they are too arrogant to admit or recognize when something has failed. Even when the evidence is already staring them in the face, they will still continue doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that someone who does that is either insane or stupid.