TURNING POINT: Succumbing to a Scam

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 5 May) – If someone offers to double your money in three months’ time or increase it by 200 percent in six months, would you hand him your years of savings to take advantage of the rare opportunity? You are unlikely to do it if you are a sensible person with a critical mind. The offer is too good to be true. No economic or business venture has ever accomplished that feat. Otherwise, banks would not have existed because no one will put their money there. The claim is experientially and legally impossible to happen. The investment scheme is definitely fraudulent.

But not very long ago many in Mindanao and in some other parts of the country had succumbed to this quick money scam and lost almost everything they had. Government employees lost their big loaned money. Pensioners, their lump sum pensions, farmers their farm lots or farm animals, because they uncritically took the bait. And who would not when the stratagem is so convincing and tempting.

Some distinguished personalities in the community, no less than the chief of police or the mayor who accordingly belonged to the first batch of investors, materialized and testified in the gathering waving their checks, the returns of their investment, after a period of three months, and who are now enthusiastic to reinvest the capital and interest in full.

To cap it all they and the new converts were handed outright postdated checks equivalent to the value of their money plus the returns cashable after 90 days. Huge returns-of-investment were advanced to the investors in that manner. Everyone was jubilant but at the end of the day all was holding an empty bag. Many families were destroyed. As a consequence, many children had to stop their schooling. The pensioners start begging for food and medicines from their relations or neighbors. Some had died of heart attack or were reported to have committed suicide, unable to bear the devastating weight of the tragedy

Now, how is the quick money scheme different from the claim of a presidential aspirant that he could stop corruption, the drug menace, end criminality in three to six months’ time in this country of 110 million people dispersed across a porous archipelago of 1,700 islands? Hardly. Both are empty promises used as a lure to advance some covert selfish interest. The latter, of course is a scam of graver magnitude currently surging forward and may yet engulf the country like an unstoppable tsunami wrecking in its wake everything on its path – faith in God or in something noble, trust, friendship, respect for one another, guiding ideals and values we have held dear since childhood, and the blessings we are enjoying from our fledgling democracy. The demolition is accelerating thanks to the messianic ambition of a despotic provincial warlord feeding on the grievances, impatience and desperation of the people over a democratic culture that is flawed and a government accused to be wanting in delivery.

Our flirtation with democracy is only half a century old. And we seem to forget that democracy is an organic institution that grows in consideration of the history, culture and tradition of a nation. It is not something transplanted from one clime to another and immediately grows and bears fruits in the new location nor something shipped like a pre-fab structure whose components can readily be assembled upon arrival on site and may become functional at once.

In operation, democracy is a participatory work in progress. The US version of democracy, which serves as our rough model, has been in existence for over three centuries. Yet the Americans continue to struggle to this day streamlining and correcting its conceptual flaws and operational glitzes. The entire system is far from complete. At our end, we are apparently becoming a nation of instant coffee. We just cannot wait and in the process sacrifice quality in favor of something cheap, actually disgusting but in tempting attractive package..

Now comes the foul-mouthed change-maker from Davao City.

The Mayor has never been less transparent about his ambition and intention to change the country according to his own mold through a bloody revolution with himself at the helm. Even before he officially proclaimed his bid for the presidency he already threw mouthful of hints along the way of what would be expected of him in time to come.

If one looks deeper into it, his participation in the current electoral exercise under a system he vehemently condemns as rotten and unreliable is part of the grand strategy to gain more supporters and followers. If he won the presidential race and got himself installed as president, he would declare Martial Law and establish a revolutionary government to make true to his promises. That would be revolution from within the system using the resources of the government with some air of legitimacy at that to accomplish his aims.

If he lost his bid he would make it appear that he was cheated of victory by his opponents or by the government itself and tap the grievances of his followers to wage the revolution from the outside. To prepare for this his camp has been saying he could never lose this election unless cheated by the COMELEC. In this context, his followers would feel they are on moral ground to rise against the Republic. His armed elements are ready for a bloody takeover of government. On line for support are the communists or the NPAs who he allowed a modus vivendi in Davao, tolerating, in fact encouraging them to collect “revolutionary taxes” from businessmen and of which he promised of late key positions in his government, and the Moro secessionists, an attractive local governance package via federalism of which he assured he could easily deliver to them by abolishing Congress and the Supreme Court and thus preclude delaying legal obstruction.

But, of course, the Armed Forces and the people who still love democracy will not allow this happening sitting down. Hence, there would be civil war – Filipinos killing Filipinos. Thus, not just 1,000 or 100,000 but maybe millions will perish in the establishment of the Duterte regime of peace and security.

All around the country, the Pied Piper of Hamelin is playing his instrument to the hilt where droves and waves of enchanted victims are responding to his sound like rats driven to the precipice

It is sad and tragic to be a Filipino nowadays.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)