Reviewing #Sona2014

PNoy’s fourth annual report will be remembered in history because of its bipolar nature, reaching both the highest and lowest extremities of his governance. His original vision of cleansing and building a trustworthy government seems to be yielding results, but it seems that the nearer he is approaching his goal, the bigger the imminent threat of him being eaten back by the system, a monstrosity which has seen mammoth growth brought about by the previous head of the nation.

I have always found opinionating about the state of our nation to be very interesting. It brings back wondrous memories of high school where I’d joined school press conferences and perform analysis on any given topic, with nationalism always being the frontrow topic. But more than helping cure the disease of the nation, it was also a good platform for observing the audience, because it’s not only about knowing what we can and cannot do, but also how and why we’re doing it wrong. The ubiquity of the Internet, or more specifically, the social networks also made this more prevalent at present, and it’s not unusual for me to be seeing matters of national interest on my newsfeeds and their equivalents. It was saddening that we are seeing a lot of these so-called analysts, who resorts to propagandas, spreading FUD’s and masters of the ad hominem attacks to push their agenda.

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One of the biggest news last year was one that came out wholly unexpected, so sudden that in fact, everyone was completely surprised by it. I was specifically referring to the 7.8% growth of GDP of the nation during the first quarter last year, beating other nations and matching the growth of China, which was seen as an emerging super-economy. Suddenly, the world has its eye on the Philippines.


As is always the case, detractors are quick to downplay the good news by detailing that it was a matter of luck, a realigning of the planets in the worldwide economic system and the common complaint that it’s not felt by the common tao. But if we are to view it realistically, we can easily tell that it is due to an uncommon characteristic of our economy: being recession-proof (and another phrase, which has also been used to identify us after the onslaught of Yolanda: resilient) brought about by the unsung heroes of our generation, the OFW’s. However, the effect of this trait is mostly minimal, and we need to look at the larger picture. There’s no denying and it’s pretty obvious to conclude that the growth is mostly internal. During this time, it was a period of relative calm in the government, right after the impeachment of Corona in May 2012. We do see the typical actions from the usual troublemakers, but none of them made any significant impacts at all. In other words, our country is just moving on like normal.

Moving forward, PNoy continued the crusade to work on catching a bigger fish and in Aug 2013, one of the cornerstones of corruption in the government has been exposed. It was the PDAF, more popularly as pork barrel. It was a memorable period, particularly because a cover in BizNews Asia has gone viral on social networks, which detailed what was known as the Philippines “biggest criminal syndicate.” And with a nice sprinkle of humor, to answer the call of abolishing PDAF, the hashtag #newpork was suggested and became a trending topic on Twitter, of which a contribution came from yours truly. More here.


But the more important outcome of this revelation is the identification of the chief of operations responsible for stealing a maddening billions of the people’s money. Janet Napoles was eventually caught, and with her came three senators who got dragged along. It should have been a triumph for the crusade. Then something came along, giving a chance for PNoy’s opposers to get back at him.

At the start of July, the month when PNoy is expected to deliver his SONA, the Supreme Court declared his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as “unconstitutional.” Like predators awaiting their victim, detractors took to their mechanisms of spreading misinformation thru propaganda and, eventually, filed impeachment. It’s quite ironic that they’re persecuting him for something that he’s been trying to remove: plunder, or pilfering the people’s fund.

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To illustrate my point, let us dabble with the opposite. During the Arroyo administration, there were a lot of obvious instances of thievery of government funds. The most annoying thing is that I could really feel Arroyo’s “strong republic” because she can almost always gets out of the water by exploiting some “work-arounds” for them, backed by the likes of Corona and others in the Supreme Court. In other words, everyone knows she was guilty (I can never imagine how a leader can live knowing she has a rating of -70+ and hated by almost everybody) but she is adept in using the Constitution as her shield during her 10-year reign of greed.

The current political crisis was ironically initiated by the SC, and if there’s one thing we can learn from this, it’s the chameleonic nature of many officials, waiting for their enemy’s misstep and changing colors at the first sign.

What about DAP? The program goes back all the way to 2011, coinciding with the country’s journey to progress. The great thing about PNoy is that he is claiming accountability for the program. He keeps his word and shows a much needed quality for a leader: integrity. But the program also shows another side of his leadership: it’s about taking risks. He was aware that he needs to play patintero with the Law, but he needs to implement it nonetheless. I honestly think the DAP is actually a very clever program, because it lets the President monitor the usage of the funds and verify that it will be used for good means (hence the phrase “in good faith”), minimize corruption by speeding up the process (hence the inclusion of acceleration in the name) and, even though this one may sound selfish, help him in his personal mission to clean the government, which is for the good of all anyway, as the past two years have shown. DAP was borne out of the inefficiency of the government’s previous means of using the funds, which was heavily slipstreamed with the existing culture of corruption. The program has its basis, and I’m sure he just missed just one critical step just to make it quite legal. And it’s gonna be a shame that we’ll have to waste our time over the next few weeks (hopefully not months) listening to both sides debate over such a minor technicality. To rephrase it, it’s like quarreling whether gray is really black or white.

A divided government is a dysfunctional government. Sayang ang naipundar natin sa nakaraang dalawang taon. It was déjà vu all over again. We elect the president, we impeach the president. We get a new president, we keep on complaining. We keep on going in circles. Siguro nga meron talagang tuwid na daan, at hindi ito ang problema, kundi yung mga ayaw bumitaw sa pasikot-sikot na ruta ng ating nakaraan. Many people keep on going to amusement parks, if only because they love being turned around by the carousel, the Ferris wheel or the rollercoaster.


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