CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — Our society is now in turmoil, addled by unprecedented irregularities committed at the very top levels of politics and government.
The immediate culprits are the corruption attending congressional pork barrel (PDAF) allowances and the cavalier disbursement by Malacañang of funds across forbidden borders of our bureaucracy (DAP).
All that has happened obviously can be traced to the terribly wrong judgment of the electorate—elevating flawed personalities, morally-challenged grandstanders, and characters of superficial or dubious quality to highly sensitive and responsible positions having to do with the public trust.
None of the irregularities would be happening if the electorate were more discriminating and fastidious about vetting the background and character of the candidates they elected. Their failure to exercise prudence or due diligence is punishing our society. They have got us stuck with screen characters, stuntmen, playboys, coup plotters, and assorted irrelevancy.
The numerous cases that have surfaced are now being brought to their paces before Lady Justice, but it is clear that we are facing a national crisis of confidence.
Our politicos, individually and collectively, as are our political institutions, are on trial. Our people are angry and fed up with corruption, venality, and irresponsibility. They are furious at hypocritical groups masquerading as political parties.
Where all this will lead is anybody’s guess, but it is creating a serious dent on our self-respect and sense of national honor. It is exacerbated by the absence of earnest effort to pinpoint responsibility and punish the guilty.
Is the leadership so paralyzed that nothing of major significance is being undertaken to stem the erosion of faith and confidence except the usual dissembling, stonewalling, and thick-faced disavowals of wrongdoing?
Meanwhile, graft and corruption and bad governance remain undisturbed on all levels of the system. Violations of the local government code, of various regulations and ordinances continue unabated.
The slogan, Matuwid na daan, is being scoffed at by scofflaws; unable to make a difference except as trumpeted in mass media and headlined in self-gratuitous claims on front pages.
Things just aren’t working out! The president’s bosses are unhappy and restive, impatient for substance and an earnest of good intentions.
It is made even worse as we look around and see the red menace called the NPA and blood-thirsty marauders called the BIFF deal death and destruction to helpless communities. It’s beginning to look like they have the territory to themselves, hitting targets at will!
This is all very distracting to ordinary citizens already preoccupied with the mundane demands of keeping body and soul together while rearing children and families.
One can’t help feeling how these days must be a happy time for the trapos. The people are effectively distracted by the unending teleserye of corruption and plunder, while in-between they have to surmount the challenge of crazy price spirals in their daily trips to the market.
People can scarcely pay attention to anything else! So the local trapos are able to do pretty much as they like, manipulating the community, controlling projects, deploying vote-getting services, spending budgets. With no one watching, let alone supervising them, they have total control!
It won’t be a surprise when the elections come around, they’ll simply round up the neighborhoods, scoop up the “goodwill” they’ve amassed, and translate same into votes.
And when their term expires, or after they’ve had their fill, they’ll simply pass on the power and the privilege to their clones, cronies, or dynastic heirs.
We have got to get our communities unstuck from the never-ending cycle of trapos and dynastic officeholders who specialize in pandering to the weaknesses of the bakya crowd.
Keeping them in place perpetuates the bakya values and standards that have become the norms for leadership, public service, and development. Letting them stay in place gets good governance shoved to the back seat of our rickety political system.
Thus, if you’re an idealist, dream not of proper standards for infrastructure or services in our communities. Dream only of moving to the privately developed portions of barangays where the well-off live in walled-in compounds with armed guards securing the perimeter.
One wonders whether government will ever make the non-private, non-fenced-in parts of our communities the domain and focus of public administration.
It sucks that the rest of the community, the publicly-managed portion, must make do without standards, without decent infrastructure, and with atrocious maintenance!
It’s time to enlist the decent elements, the educated sectors of our respective communities, for the big job of inducing good governance for the basic units of our Republic!
Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. [email protected]