• The Pasig Review

Brewed Coffee, Please!

Where are we headed?

Bhenjar Toor, Editor-in-Chief

The events unfolding before us is worrisome.

While detained Senator Leila De Lima has won a key victory in the trumped up charges against her, the present administration continues to pull strings to continue her unjust detention for simply being the most critical oppositionist of this administration. Yet, from incompetent appointees to corrupt ones, the President remains oblivious to the failings of his administration and has instead went on a rampage when it comes to setting so many diversions to cloud the dismal showing of this government in handling the pandemic.

But it is not even the utter lackluster performance of this administration that must concern us the most but the disconcerting apathy and double standard of individuals who were supposedly critical of corruption in government has become apologists of a president whose behavior and style resemble more of a mafia ringleader than a public servant elected into office.

We can still recall that when the Mamasapano misencounter happened, despite being a legitimate military operation and 44 Special Action Force personnel were cruelly massacred, everyone was quick to condemn the supposed incompetence they have seen on the many officials involved and not involved that ended in that tragedy. Yet, the same people would not complain about the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives misencounter and would remain silent about pronouncements from the President who tells the Senate not to conduct any investigation yet when Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) is clearly an autonomous branch of government. Of course, we know that there is such a thing as political alliances based on political expediency. When Dengvaxia was brought into the fore, there was public uproar and after several investigations and public condemnation at the onset of the Duterte administration. Thanks to the Public Attorney's Office chief Atty. Persida Acosta who led the entire assault team to undermine the vaccine and create this public fear on the use of vaccines. Acosta, on more than one occasion, was clearly doing the bidding of Malacanang.

Dengvaxia was approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines for use by individuals aged 9 to 16 with laboratory confirmed previous dengue infection and living in endemic areas.

Yet, when the Duterte administration rolled out Sinovac's, a Beijing- based biopharmaceutical company, CoronaVac, an inactivated vaccine, the same people who were so vocal against the supposed vaccines that caused thousands of supposed deaths, which were never conclusive because evidence did not establish a direct connection between Dengvaxia and the demise of the children, are the same who are telling people to see how ungrateful many were despite the steps taken by the incumbent administration when data coming from laboratory shows that this Coronavirus vaccine is only 50.4% effective compared to other brands that are in the 90% plateau.

Besides, Filipinos need not be grateful to any administration if they did right since it is the minimum expectation that since they were elected by the people, then they are expected to act in the best interest of the nation. I am sure that going for Sinovac is not in the best interest of the nation considering that there are far better options; and with all the loans made intended for the vaccine procurements and roll outs, people must start complaining relentlessly since we, the taxpayers, are eventually going to pay off these debts. Why should we then be thankful for the incompetence of this administration? No, far be it for anyone to thank incompetence when every available resource has been given to them to be at their disposal so we can finally get the vaccine that can lead to the reopening of our economy and to letting us go through life not in the new normal they insist but a life that is normal in every sense because we know that if infected, it will not be the death of us.

True to form, this administration merely got many focus on the non-issues. In the middle of the pandemic, Sarah Duterte's supposed lead in a survey that does not even represent a meaningful segment of the populace supposedly show her as leading.

An administration that has openly acknowledged the use of trolls who spread lies and misinformation headed by the most dubious of characters, we are either a nation of gullible people or that our education system was simply designed to keep the majority mired in a pool of ignorance so that these traditional politicians can perpetuate themselves in power at the disadvantage of the masses.

At a time when when we are wallowing in so much difficulties caused by the pandemic, we see a Duterte-controlled Congress prioritize the closure of ABS-CBN, which was found to have complied with all government requirements and have availed of legal remedies to resolve conflicts, causing a trifling effect on many industries, the suppression of constitutional rights under the guise of fighting terrorism when it has become apparent that the main cause of terror are in fact those in power.

The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has finally ruled with finality on the victory of Vice President Leni Robredo. It is one of the few positives we can take from a very stressful time. Comic as it may seem at certain points, especially when her total votes even increased in areas selected by Bongbong Marcos' group in their electoral protest.

The continuous proliferation of falsehoods debunking well-researched and evidence-based historical facts simply show that the fight is not over because beyond the election of any Marcos opponent is the truth that must be protected at all cost lest we put our nation in peril once again because we refuse to recognize history's lessons and act on it by ushering in new leaders that are true public servants.

If anything, the recognition of Vico Sotto as an icon of anti-corruption efforts is refreshing. It gives us hope that there is this possibility that a new set of leaders who are in the mold of what our nation needs is finally emerging.

Yet, the future hangs in the balance knowing full well that there are powerful forces behind the corrupt officials who continue to wield power. They hide behind academicians who are just too willing to be intellectually dishonest to argue on the basis of strong leadership to give people the impression that we have no choice but tolerate or even allow minimal greed in government.

Instead of demanding responsibility and liability, we hear them say that these are the things we will have to live with and it is just being realistic. We ought to have those in government who, in the words of Mayor Sotto, will abnormalize corruption.

The fight is still a long way from being won, and while the developments we see point to a dim future still, we know that we can still bring the fight to them and make it difficult for every traditional politician to rest on their laurels and be secured with what they have consolidated.

It is good that as early as now, we see these names rank among the top because it means that much work is to be done to reveal more of the anomalies that they are forcefully trying to put in the back burners by coming out with one diversion after another.

It is high time we realize that it is up to us to refuse the old political lines that it is the system and not the people because if you look at how things are with this move to push for federalism, even the proponents themselves cannot agree on which provisions to include and which to remove. Most glaring would be the term limits removed in what Congress added in the proposal, which according to one of the commissioners who drafted the original includes such limitations to ensure that corruption is curbed. As it is, corruption is so embedded that even the proponents are unable to get their acts together and only another Marcosian act - another Duterte maneuver that will disregard our constitutional rights - will make our shift to Federalism possible.

The way things are unfolding, everything is as blurred as it was in the beginning. 2022 will be pivotal, of that we can be sure. It will be us as a people showing the world whether we have learned from our recent past or if we remain unworthy of the freedoms we now have but not being valued enough.

Never again, we used to say. But why have we made it a vicious cycle?

Are we a nation of fools?

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