COMMENT: Yearend Notes: Time Tells No False Tale

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 December) — Man for all his arts may dissemble. But as time inexorably moves on, he comes to grips with truth, sooner or later, as truth comes to light. Time tells no false tale. Time unmasks the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich, the strongest of the powerful.

Past to Present

On December 21, I started to write “Christmas: Past to Present.” I never wrote past the dateline. Tried as I did, I lost to the weather. In the past week, it turned hot and cold to unleash my asthma and I could feel Mr. Flu stalking. “Rest,” so I heard. “Rest,” so I did. But rest was purgatory. If I were among the hills of old, it could have made all the heavenly difference.

In “Christmas: Past to Present,” I had wanted to share with the new generations how Christmas has changed in more than eighty years – in spirit and matter. In the past, people creatively made their lanterns, their decors; today, they troop to the malls to buy the glitters of the season. In the past, people go around – even among the hills at nights – singing Christmas carols; today, the voices and jingles long been stilled are in the radios and televisions. In the past, Christmas was personalized; today, Christmas commercialized energizes one big industry.

But life is in seasons; man must live with the spirit of the seasons. Christmas Cheers are as much the right of the poorest in slums as that of the richest in mansions. On a personal note, the glitters of the Christmas Present summon the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Last 30 Months

Aquino at the Crossroad: Forty-two months are gone; only 30 months are left. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is at the crossroad of his presidency. Is his presidency his creation of which he is the leader, or the creation of his creator? The next 30 months will tell.

I voted for him with hope. At the crossroad, I see him standing. I think, he is pondering: “I took the road less traveled by” – the “daang matuwid” –and wondering: “Has it really made the difference?” He may dissemble. But he sees. Will he block the road “most traveled by”? Can he?  Only if he were a Magsaysay!

He is a disappointment. He must be most disappointed. No, he is not, so says the Palace — just making unpopular decisions. Really? What decisions has he made for the “popular good” that turned out to be “unpopular”? What decisions has he made that turned out “unpopular” because they were not for the “popular good”? Distinguish the chaffs from the grains!

In the last six months, the Aquino administration has been unmasked. It is not to be blamed for the almost a decade of massive PDAF corruption. Only for impotence to stop it and for abetting its continuance! Against popular outrage, President Aquino justified PDAF to be a boon for the poor. Indeed, that was a very unpopular decision! What could be more unpopular than tolerating the source of grand corruption and telling the people that was for their own good?

At no other time in the past 40 months than this month was President Aquino III so unmasked to bare his impotence as a leader. The ERC (Energy Regulation Commission) approved Meralco’s application for a P4.15 increase in its electricity rate. No matter how oppressive, the President would not stop it since the ERC, an autonomous body, is beyond his jurisdiction and control. So says the law. The President’s hands are tied.

Are they? The President cannot tell the ERC chairperson what to do. But can he not do anything to stop or remedy the harm of what the ERC has done? The Meralco rate increase was “unfair trade” practice; the Constitution mandates the President to protect the people from “unfair trade” practice. Not lifting a finger was a most unpopular decision.

The Supreme Court did it for the Meralco consumers. Had the President done it, Meralco and company would have taken him to court. Could any other court have done differently from the Supreme Court?

I have long reexamined my vote. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, the senator, was popular because he is an “Aquino” – the son of Ninoy and Cory. But his was popularity empty of leadership – that realization I cannot dissemble. Read Executive Order No. 4, s. 2010. There is ground to infer that the Office of the Press Secretary was reorganized to invent leadership to complement popularity.

This is just taking notes. The last 30 months can either bear me out or bear me down. Just one last note: Had he talked with the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) commander who was willing to talk, more than 200 lives and four billion pesos could have been saved in Zamboanga City. That the last 30 months cannot undo.  It’s What if…? forever etched in history.

Bangsamoro in Precarious Balance. Closer home, we see the final solution to the Bangsamoro Problem hanging in precarious balance. Joint statements of Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panels have always sounded reassuring. But behind the sounds, realities make uncomfortable differences.

Ever since the signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro on October 15, 2012, the President and his government have always seen “Peace is within reach”. But “within” also means “beyond” – like “tomorrow”, “peace” has remained a promise. 

With only 30 months left of the Aquino presidency, can the Bangsamoro be entrenched to solve the Bangsamoro Problem? The entrenchment process that should have been finished three years ago has not yet started. It has to start with the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – the FAB complete with the Four Annexes. The signing should have been by January 2013 or “by the end of the year” reckoned from October 15, 2012. But the CPA may not be signed by January 2014.

As we see it – and this we take note – the entrenchment of the Bangsamoro hangs on two threads – time and the Bangsamoro the contending parties want. To the Aquino government, 30 months are still enough time to enact the BBL, ratify it and conduct an election of the first Bangsamoro government officials to inaugurate the Bangsamoro before President Aquino steps down on June 30, 2016. Does MILF agree? Will this solve the Bangsamoro Problem?

Even by Government’s thinking, 30 months are too precarious for Bangsamoro to hang on. More so if viewed from various MILF pronouncements — the more precarious the hanging becomes. We will elucidate this note in our next comments.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year to All! May peace truly reign.   (“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at