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Home Columns Op-Ed Page The Philippines Before and What Now?
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Written by Dr. Cesar D. Candari   
Monday, 09 August 2010 06:49

 

By Cesar D. Candari, M.D., FCAP Emeritus

Henderson, Nevada

 

We are jubilant Filipinos with Noynoy Aquino as the new President of the Republic of the Philippines. We are, however, faced with an array of problems. We are burdened with economic, social and political conflicts and so we are not completely free. As one Philippine government official stated, the cry is as much for justice as it is for economic freedom, law and order, and for rice and fish. Virtually 70% of the Philippine population is trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and exploitation. Where so few are very rich and so many are very poor is what our beloved country is.

 

There is so much to be desired about the Philippines that we know today. It is not free from the ravage of economic bondage. Filipinos continue to wallow in sordid living conditions and unimaginable poverty.

 

There is a sense of hopelessness in the business community. There is so much greed, dishonesty, opportunism, frustration, and unfathomable graft and corruption in the government. How Noynoy can correct this is beyond my imagination. How I wish he could.



 

POVERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES

 



 

It is not my intention to denigrate the Philippines but to show the serious problem of poverty in the country in hopes that something can be done about it. I was in Manila a few years ago. I took a Toyota taxi from Luneta to Ermita. The taxi was so rundown that noxious fumes seeped through the holes in the corroded chassis to the back seats and floor.  It shuddered to a grinding halt for traffic at the corner near the once opulent Philippine Cultural Center. While the taxi stopped, a grimy-faced woman holding a worn-out handkerchief over her nose in one hand and a baby in the other came over and tapped at the car window. I took such pity on her that I gave her 20 pesos scene was similar along Roxas Boulevard near the US Embassy, the places heavily visited by tourists. As I got out of the foul-smelling taxi, I was immediately surrounded by a swarm of small children with outstretched hands begging for money the American Express Office on United Nations Street, I noticed the badly-cracked and filthy sidewalks with garbage strewn everywhere. As I walked, I had no respite from the pleading faces and grasping hands but there was not much I could do.

My thoughts were on the piles of uncollected garbage along the streets and the possible source of epidemic it might bring. I came across a crowd of people of all ages covering their noses with handkerchiefs, presumably to protect themselves from the gasoline fumes and the garbage smell. The narrow street was jammed with jeepneys and cars honking their horns and filling whatever space there was in or outside their lanes. There was no traffic order and no sense of courtesy on the part of the drivers. “Undisciplined” was the word to describe such madness.

The scenes I just described were widespread all over Manila and suburbs and they were not very pretty to think or write about. I was at a loss on what to say with all these things I observed. In spite of a number of policy reforms by the then administration of Gloria Arroyo, the Philippines continued to face important challenges and must sustain the reform momentum to achieve and sustain the strong post-crisis recovery needed to spur investments, achieve higher growth, generate employment, and alleviate poverty for a rapidly expanding population. Food prices were high. Garbage was being dumped beside the streets. Disease epidemics were a concern. Again, the whole nation was witnessing sickening crimes attributed to the inept people in the government.

Gloria Arroyo’s accession to power was further legitimized by the mid-term congressional and local elections held four months later when her coalition won an overwhelming victory. Her initial term in office was marked by fractious coalition politics as well as a military mutiny in Manila in July 2003 that led her to declare a month-long nationwide state of rebellion.

Gloria Arroyo in her Machiavellian maneuver declared in December 2002 that she would not run in the May 2004 presidential election but she reversed herself in October 2003 and decided to join the race. She was re-elected and sworn in for her own six-year term as president on June 30, 2004. In 2005, a tape of a wiretapped conversation surfaced bearing the voice of Arroyo apparently asking an election official (the famous “Garci” manipulator) if her margin of victory could be maintained. The tape sparked protests calling for Arroyo’s resignation. Arroyo admitted to inappropriately speaking to an election official, but denied allegations of fraud and refused to step down. Attempts to impeach her failed later that year.

Then President Arroyo unsuccessfully attempted a controversial plan for an overhaul of the constitution to transform the present presidential-bicameral republic into a federal allegations of corruptions by GMA and her family of multi-millions of dollars were true, no question she perpetuated an atrocious regime of mass fraud and thievery committed during her presidency. Another one in question was the $503-million North-rail project.

This is only a microcosm of a presidential plunder that must face justice. To the Filipinos, these colossal corrupt deals are sickening in the stomach. How I wish Noynoy could do something to please the Filipino people. Noynoy must do something. Corrupt officials must be in jail! All these, of course, reflect the desperation with which the Philippines were fighting its seemingly perpetual war against poverty and governmental inefficiency in general and the problems of civility and social order in particular. I really hope and pray that the present government of Noynoy shall not lose the battle.

 

ECONOMIC FREEDOM

 

M ankind discovered democracy not once, but many times. Filipinos fought the Guardia Civil of the Spanish regime; we had skirmishes with the Americanos in the 1900s; and we were guerillas during the Japanese occupation. We finally rediscovered democracy at the indomitable EDSA revolution. Let me say it again. Virtually 70% of the Philippine population is trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and exploitation. Where so few are very rich and so many are very poor is what our beloved country is. There is so much to be desired about the Philippines that we know today. It is not free from the ravage of economic bondage. Filipinos continue to wallow in sordid living conditions and unimaginable poverty. There is a sense of hopelessness in the business community. There is so much greed, dishonesty, opportunism and frustration in the government. While Filipinos now enjoy democracy, life is still difficult.

 

Unemployment is endemic; the price of food and other commodities is continually rising. Hunger, disease, pollution and congestion in the cities are appalling.

 

The expressions of despair are in their eyes of the people. What can we do? We ask if there will be deliverance from these crippling maladies. We cannot live by love of democracy and freedom alone. What we also need are economic justice and power. The dispensation of the latter rests with the rich and the government. What is needed is the sacrifice on the part of the affluent by sharing their wealth and the intelligent planning and vision on the part of the government to spur economic development. Doing so, will go a long way in alleviating the economic plight of our people.

 

Noynoy Aquino must have the responsibility to lead the country and propel it to an industrialized nation in the years to come; no more graft and corruption, and “those who erred must face justice”. There must be an effective and visionary leadership with priority in economic initiatives. End our poverty.

 

The enormity of problems facing the Filipinos particularly in its deliverance from economic injustice demands heroic sacrifices from everyone.  Democracy restored is not all that also be free from hunger and want. Only then can Filipinos declare themselves free at last. # # #

 

Editor’s Notes: Our new columnist, Cesar D. Candari, MD, FCAP Emeritus, was the first Commissioner of Filipino descent of the Governing Board of the San Diego Stadium Authority and Field Commissioner of the Licensing Division of the State Medical Board of California. He exemplifies the multi-talented and positive contributions of Filipino Americans to Mainstream America. He has been making, and still makes, Filipino Americans look good and feel good about themselves and their multiethnic heritage. (A more detailed introduction is found at Traffic Problems in Manila Are Beyond the “Wang-wang”)

 



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Last Updated on Monday, 09 August 2010 06:57
 

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