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Mar 22nd
Home Columns Dissenting Opinion A Pragmatic Look at the Present Political Crisis in the Philippines
A Pragmatic Look at the Present Political Crisis in the Philippines PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Dissenting Opinion
Sunday, 17 February 2008 16:19

Dissenting Opinion


am tired of it all, so let me say my 2-cent worth. As one who is both local (Manila and provincial), and former US-based, I find being a pragmatist as the best approach for keeping peace of mind and outlook. I am not any apologist for any political party, person, or agenda.


Let me start by asking if these facts are more or less true:

1. Politicians are not paragons of virtue. All have their agendas, be it for power, prestige, protection, furthering the dynasty, amassing wealth, or even altruistic do-gooding (sic), and/or a combination of all. This extends to all: Philippines, US, Russia, Indonesia, France, China  -  no exception (even the Church).

2. In the Philippines especially, government salaries are so low that no politician can survive on straight salary alone. It is a given that there has to be a tolerable degree of "corruption" (for want of a better term) for the wheels of governance to turn. Pork barrel, perhaps? But corruption per se is not necessarily a death knell; it is the severity that is the determinant factor. Until such time when we can pay our government officials wages akin to corporate executives, as Singapore does, we are stuck. So we must be pragmatic. With that in mind, it appears that Lozada was supposed to be a moderating influence to limit the severity of corruption to acceptable levels. It has blown up to what it is now, where the present admin is being tried in the court of public opinion. I think this is counter productive. Corruption, in one form or other, is everywhere: the US has its PACs and its influence peddling. Witness the no-bid concessions of the Bush administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. Japan has their daibatzus, the unholy alliances of big business, banks, and government. I am sure there are countless of other examples.

3. "By their fruits you will know them" is the operative term that we shall now use for an analysis. Marcos impoverished the country and people over 20 years of abuse, despite the initial euphoria of a "strongman, ala Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew", to lead the country. There were killings and horrible abuses; I personally know some of his victims. Yet, now, some quarters trumpet that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) is worse than Marcos. I find this unfair. The economy is doing good; the trade balance is OK, and the country is on the road to pay off the massive debts. The peso has strengthened. Over the years, the exchange rate to the dollar plunged from 2 to 1 after the war to 56 to 1 right after Erap's time. It has improved now to 40 to 1. True, there still is massive poverty, but considering the population has gone from 22-million to 80-million, that is inevitable: the pie gets cut into thinner slices. Now, GMA is actively pushing birth control (that Marcos, which I grudgingly concede, also did) to help alleviate that aspect – something that the church is against, hence, their eagerness to join the bandwagon of condemnation.

4. Most people just don't understand that there are many more factors causing poverty. Crude oil has risen dramatically, the globalization of the world marketplace forces nations and it's peoples to be more efficient, etc. And really, are we that much mired in abject poverty? I don't see it in the provinces; Manila perhaps, in certain pockets. But isn't that true in most other countries? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Does corruption spread poverty? This is an interesting question. At the grassroots, the wealth, albeit ill gotten, gets spread around. Is there massive ill-gotten wealth being squirreled away abroad like during the times of Marcos and his cronies? I don't think so. Last year's case of the general's wife and children who got caught in the US is peanuts.

5. (Former President) Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) had his Amari deal; (former President) Cory Aquino's Cojuangco kin had all their share of shenanigans. So what else is new? (Former President Joseph Estrada) Erap of course got caught with a smoking gun: there were receipts and signed bank statements. The economy was going down the tubes fast, and the president was an embarrassment. So the people reacted with EDSA II. Is that the situation now? I certainly don't think so. Does GMA, et al, exude ostentatious living, ala Imelda (Marcos) or Erap's paramours?

6. So should we now continue wringing our hands and rallying to force GMA to go? Then what? Another set of crooks come in? At least GMA is hard-headed enough to steer a tough course (if need be) such as the VAT case. Will (Vice President) Noli (de Castro) be a more intelligent President? Certainly not. And who orchestrated this Lozada case to start with? Wasn't it (Senator) Ping Lacson?. We all know what he represents. As for me, I'd rather be a pragmatist: don't change horses in mid-stream, and end up floundering more. Go on with the present administration: Wrap up this ZTE circus where anybody seems to be able to make accusations based on innuendos and hearsay, and carry on with what we have. Be positive, and pragmatic.

Rejoinders, anyone?

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Last Updated on Sunday, 17 February 2008 22:11

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