GENERALSANTOSCITY,February27,2012 – “Makalipas ang mahigit dalawa’t kakahating dekada, malayo na ba ang pagkakaiba natin sa nagisnang sistema (After more than two and a half decades, are we far different from the system that we had awakened into)?”
This President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III asked early in his speech at EDSA Shrine last Saturday, February 25 (The Official Gazette, February 25, 2012) before a not so inspiring an audience. He was addressing his question to the generations that defied the forces of martial law at EDSA in 1986 or who prayed in their homes nationwide – not to the generations still innocent or unborn at time.
He answered this: “Maliwanag po hindipatapos ang labang inumpisahan sa EDSA (It is clear that the fight started at EDSA is unfinished).” The active participants still around – at that thinly attended celebration or in their homes in the country or abroad — understand with regret; those still innocent or unborn in 1986 must have been wondering what was started at EDSA.
To be candidly honest, the question is: Ginawa ba o ginagawa pa ba ang inumpisahan sa EDSA (Has what was started at EDSA been done? Or, is it still being done)? [We would call what was started at EDSA “quest” rather than just “fight”] If not done or not being done, how could it ever be done? The political, economic and moral conditions now prevailing in the country truly gauge what has been done or is being done about the quest at EDSA in 1986.
He stated the relevance of his administration to EDSA: “Nang iminungkahing tumakbo ako bilang pangulo, tinanggap natin ang hamon sa paniniwalang may magagawa tayong makabuluhang pagbabago. (We accepted the challenge to run for president thinking that we can do meaningful reforms).”
What really was the quest at EDSA? To restore morality, freedom, human rights, justice and good governance! What fell on the shoulders of President Cory Aquino, the mother, to start, President Noynoy Aquino, the son, vowed to finish after it had been improperly or mockingly done – if done at all– in the last 26 years.
People power has led the Filipinos to nowhere in the last 26 years. In less than two years in his presidency, Aquino, the son, sees the country as having impressive progress on his tuwid na landas (straight road). He mentioned examples:
First is that the Conditional Cash Transfer has allowed more children to go to school, more mothers to avail of maternal care, and more families to have better livelihood. CCT invests in the future of Filipino families. [Fact: CCT was started by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Aquino cannot fully claim credit from it for his tuwid na landas. Aquino only expanded the program by increasing the funding.]
Second is housing for the soldiers, the police and employees of three bureaus – Jail Management and Penology, Fire and Protection, and Corrections. [Fact: This, too, has been carried on from President Arroyo, as well as other past administrations.]
Third includes development in the agricultural sector, revived reforestation program, imposition of log ban, and electrification in 36,000 sitios. [Fact: The development of agriculture and electrification are on-going concerns; Aquino has to do his part. Past presidents had failed to control destructive logging and to carry out the reforestation of our deforested mountains. Aquino’s plan does not differ much from past plans.]
Fourth is winning the confidence of foreign investors through good infrastructures and a system of even playing field. Foreign investments are now pouring in. [Fact: These, too, were the claims of Arroyo and other past presidents in their reports to the nation.]
Fifth is on investment. Since its launching in 1995, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority has recorded as of the second week of February a total investment of P2.003 trillion. Of this, P439 billion or 22 percent came in during the less-than-two-year Aquino administration. [Fact: PEZA has to grow accumulatively and gradually. Investments have increased year after year. Normally, its capacity to attract investments is expected to be greater in the latest year than in any year before.]
The above – and more not enumerated – are the accomplishments of President Aquino III in the first 20 months of his 72-month presidency or 28 percent of his term. He attributes all these to the confidence that his administration has gained through his tuwid na landas policy. Hopefully, his administration will gain more confidence and achieve more.
But despite all these, Aquino has evaded the EDSA issue. In his final appeal, he invoked the spirit of EDSA to bind us together in advocating reforms; he exhorted his audience to respond to the need of correcting the wrong system. But he mentioned nothing concrete as to what he has done to stamp out corruption.
“Tuwid na landas” and “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap (If there’s no corrupt, there’s no poor)” have remained slogans and have not yet materialized in terms of the quest of EDZA. Is there no more corruption in the Aquino government?
The criminal cases against former President Arroyo and the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona are reckoning of perceived past corruption. But has Aquino been strict on his personal friends and classmates in his Cabinet and lower bureaucracy and decisive in the cases of those who have strayed off the tuwid na landas?
The quest at EDSA is: The restoration of morality, freedom, human rights, justice and good governance! This Aquino cannot do just by being unforgiving of the wrongdoers in the past but tolerant of the wrongdoers close to him in the present.
By citing economic endeavors and accomplishments which past presidents had also cited to show their own “tuwid na landas”, Aquino evaded the quest of EDSA and the issue: After more than two and a half decades, are we far different from the system in 1986 EDSA sought to reform?— (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)