Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Voices of despair

“The year is closing and yet we still have the same issues over and over again. We always try to look for a better tomorrow, keep our hopes up, but the evil that men do in government always prevails. Recycled politicos, same faces, same names, same agenda, which is to keep themselves rich and be above the law…(even) new officials are now bolder than ever --- abandoning principles and not upholding what is just…bouncing from union to union to preserve their (privileged) existence. To both, blood money passes their hands without any sense of decency, and without any regard for those of us who bleed, who can barely make it to the next meal.

“When will this zarzuela ever end?”

The anguish is evident in the letter from Ed Landicho, who wrote us in reaction to several columns.

De La Salle University President Armin Luistro, in an interview after the convocation where an ailing but hopefully recovering Cory Aquino spoke before the youth, is himself quite pained:

“I am worried with the evil around us. They make us look like fools. Once the nation loses its values, it loses its soul.

And then my good friend Armin asks, “How do we resurrect the Philippines? Have we become a party to the problem instead of the solution?”

Actor Diether Ocampo, who has conscripted himself into the “I am Ninoy” campaign, so as to make the youth more pro-active in the affairs of this benighted nation, like the young Ninoy did in his time and up to his assassination 25 years ago, still pins his hopes in the electoral system. In that same forum, he asked the youth to register and vote in 2010. “Don’t wonder why our life is like this. You have to vote. Change must come from you”, the young actor said.
Ocampo is trying to be “politically correct”. He probably realizes that the owners of his home studio are under the gun from the powers that be, and those from the other network where he is rumoured to be signing up next are very friendly with the resident evil in Malacanang. But if he truly examines the system on which he tries vainly to pin his hopes upon, he would realize that the rottenness is all over, and that the system must be dismantled before any real change can happen in this thoroughly benighted land.
In the news channel of Ocampo’s current network, a public service blurb is flashed during station breaks, where my good friend Karina Constantino-David keeps saying, “Drastic reforms are needed”, with very clear emphasis on the “drastic”. She too, is in pain. This is certainly a Philippines much worse, much poorer, much more un-patriotic, much more values-perverted than when her father Renato of highly revered memory, used to write and warn a generation of foolhardy men and women.
Would the elections of 2010, assuming they take place, bring us any closer to real change?
The system is fraught with obstructions to meaningful change arising out of electoral choice. The Comelec has not even cleansed himself, nay, not even any attempt to exorcise the demons of Garci in the woodwork. They are still there, ready to sell filched ballots and election returns for a price, ready to manipulate ER’s and certificates of canvass, to whoever has both the money and the immorality to do so.
And pray tell, have we rid ourselves of those conscienceless politicians, mostly dynasts, local as well as national, for whom everything is just a matter of price? Electoral choice has thus become hopelessly corrupted, and don’t tell me those pricey computers Melo and his commissioners now ululate about are the answer.
Even now, if SWS and Pulse Asia are to be believed, the front-runners for the presidential race are men whose political careers leave little if any inspiration for change. One was elected on the basis of familiarity in the boob-tube, and as vice-president has not spoken up against any of the evils that in his broadcast days he at the very least made pretensions to denounce. Another is a former president who had his time, and failed to use his awesome political capital to effect meaningful change, unable to shun the hedonistic profligacy imbibed as an actor, even as he had been gifted by the adoring masses with the mandate to effect change. Still another survey leader is just a quintessential trapo, with no loyalty except to the protection and aggrandizement of his pecuniary interests, and who thinks that politics is nothing else but masquerading as pro-poor in advertisements paid for by lots and lots of money.
These men, I presume Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento hopes to inveigle into a series of debates? What in heaven’s name would that spectacle amount to?
So will elections in 2010 provide any hope for meaningful change? Perish the thought.
Money, whether Arroyo’s or anybody else’s, will just buy deceitful advertisements, and buy senatorial candidates, buy congressmen and governors and mayors, and an army of operators and “volunteers” during a 90-day orgy of peddling false hopes, a phantasmagoria stupidly regarded as “democratic choice”.
Reading through the lines of pronouncements made by the few erudite bishops of our Church, you could see that even to them, the kind of elections we have in this country do not, and will not, provide any reason to hope.
What about rallies, the way people did it rightly in Edsa Uno, and wrongly in Edsa Dos? Reader Mon Sagullo does not believe these would yet work ---“To rally a famished citizenry too busy in trying to survive to put a stop to their Pavlovian existence is futile. As for those who can, just go ahead and do it. “
In the confines of his prison cell, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim writes, “Long starved of good governance, the Filipino people should now act to reclaim their dignity, remove the pretender from power, and steer the nation towards the path of greatness…through radical reforms and restructuring.”
Another reader, Mon Mayuga, faithfully monitoring every political development in his beloved land from far-away Germany, quotes Cicero in his reproach of Catiline, “Quondam abutere patientia nostra?” (How long will you abuse our patience?) and suggests to the people of the benighted land, “Hippocratic solutions” as the last resort.

“ (To)those idealistic officers in the military who value honor, duty and country”, Mayuga says, “for extreme diseases, extreme strictness of treatment is most efficacious”.

And to clergymen, he says, “Prayer indeed is good, but while calling on the gods, a man should himself lend a hand”

“We the people should not be resigned, as if we have surrendered any attempt to make her go. We cannot and we must not suffer her (during) her whole lifetime”, Mayuga avers.

I now go back to Danny Lim, who cries, that “with a subservient Congress which frustrates the impeachment process at every turn and some Supreme Court justices willing to do her bidding, then the coast is clear --- our political fate is sealed.”

And then he adds the final touch of bitter denouement ---“I dread the thought that our best bet is for GMA to die of old age”.

What then are we to do when we are assailed by such voices of despair, and many more that we gather in our seminal encounter with the evils that plague the land?

Said the bishops…”the TIME to act is NOW”.