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Jun 26th
Home Sections Politics Perhaps Filipino Voters Deserve their Cruel, If Not Merciless, Fate
Perhaps Filipino Voters Deserve their Cruel, If Not Merciless, Fate PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 10:47

T he tragedies caused by recent devastating storms, floods and landslides in the Metropolitan Manila Area and adjacent provinces – all the way to Northern Luzon – could have been mitigated if only the elected national and local officials of the Philippines did their duties that they were sworn to perform when they were elected to their respective offices. But . . .


Then President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino threw into the waste basket the flood-control plans and constructions programs that her predecessor, Ferdinand E. Marcos, was about to implement. Readers may be able to read the details of President Aquino’s and her successors’ monumental blunder in ignoring the need to construct flood-control infrastructures in Ado Paglinawan’s article: A People Caught in Its Own Dung (Part II)


Voters sold their votes during elections and they never bothered to ask the candidates their respective platforms of government and socioeconomics. The people tolerated the corruption being committed by their elected and appointed officials. Voters and their leaders never demanded that their legislators use the pork-barrel funds in constructing for instance sewage-treatment plants in their cities or provinces.


Culture of Corruption


A culture of corruption can be blamed for laying waste to the nation’s premier metropolitan area. Now people, even those too young to become voters, suffer from the after-effects of the natural calamities: More wastes that cause health problems such as human-and-animal feces, solid wastes (garbage), domestic wastewater, industrial refuse and agricultural litter, as compounded by fertilizer-and-pesticide run-offs. And a public-health system that lacks facilities, medical personnel and medicines to handle and solve the said health problems.


Even in the matter of disaster relief, funds earmarked by Congress for the Presidential Calamity Fund (PCF) were used instead to pay the foreign junkets of President Gloria Macagapal-Arroyo and her huge entourage and in paying pricey menu items like caviar in expensive foreign restaurants, as if there was no tomorrow and money was running out of style, to use oft-quoted clichés. And yet very few among the Filipino voters and people protested the theft and diversion of the PCF. Readers may like to revisit this article, The Parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, Filipino Version

O ne does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that barren mountains and hills and the lack of watershed areas along the country’s rivers – and their tributaries and distributaries – have compounded the problem of flooding in urban areas and even in the countryside. This writer sent to President Arroyo way back in 2003 this proposal for an emergency-kind of a massive reforestation, including suggestions of how to viably fund it,
The I2D2 and New EEA Proposals Sent Again to PGMA

This writer re-submitted the said reforestation proposal and even on a suggested way to settle the
Philippines’ foreign indebtedness to her visiting press secretary in November 2008, as described in this article,

PGMA Dared to Implement OFWs’ Proposed Reform Platforms of Government and Economics


But the Arroyo Dispensation chose to ignore our suggestions and instead used her time and the power, influence and resources of her office to travel abroad, where she acted like a politician who is running for reelection. And her allies in the Philippine Congress and her clique members – from Cabinet members to the Rasputins – are more concerned on getting what they can from the public treasury for their own selfish interests, rather than in serving honestly the people.


Political leadership is like water that seeks its own level. More-often than not, political leaders cannot rise above the level of the voters. – Part of an editorial for ‘The Spirit of Sorsogon’ publication, May 1972


E ven the pampered and often-do-nothing Congress of the Philippines has refused for 21 years (and counting) to pass a log-ban bill. And almost all the current aspirants for the Philippine presidency are or have been members of either the Philippine Senate and/or the House of Representatives. This fact Sen. Nene Pimentel has described in this recent press release from his press office:



Total Log Ban to Prevent Ecological Disaster


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged his colleagues in Congress to muster the resolve to approve the bill imposing a total ban on commercial logging to save what is left of the country’s forests and prevent an ecological disaster more destructive than what was wrought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.


Senator Pimentel said the unabated denudation of the forest aggravated the heavy floods that submerged Metro Manila and several provinces in Luzon and triggered landslides that caused losses of lives and properties of horrifying-and-incomparable proportions.


He lamented that the entire nation is suffering from extreme physical dangers and economic hardship, reaping the wrath of Nature as a result of the apathy and inaction of Congress on the 25-year log ban bill that he and other lawmakers filed as early as 1988.


“The total ban on logging should have been done a long time ago because there is no question that the depredation of the forest contributed heavily to the rushing of excess water from the mountain tops to the low-lying areas,” the senator from Mindanao said.


Senator Pimentel also dared President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza to implement a ban or moratorium on logging especially in areas where it has caused grave degradation of the environment.


He said such draconian action will disprove the impression that the government is giving lip service treatment to measures to preserve the country’s dwindling forests and save the people from the harmful consequences of climate change.


“The executive branch can cancel logging permits, dismantle huge fishpens in Laguna Lake and other bodies of water that impede the flow of water into the seas.  It is matter of political will really because the laws are already there,” he said.


The opposition leader said that although the public sentiment is in favor of a total log ban, it will still be a tall order to have such legislation approved by Congress because of the powerful logging lobby.


“However, it would be an unforgivable offense on the part of the legislators to allow themselves to be used in advancing the interest of loggers at the expense of the welfare and survival of their constituents,” Senator Pimentel said.


He said the critical state of the country’s forests is graphically illustrated not only in the heavy flashfloods during typhoon, soil erosion and landslides, siltation and drying up of rivers and other inland waterways, depletion of ground water resources and shrinking wildlife.


The forests, Senator Pimentel stressed, badly need a respite from logging for 25 years – the length of time it takes for hardwood trees to mature and for the country to regain its lost forest cover.


Of the country’s 15-million hectares of forest at the start of the 20th century, less-than seven-million hectares are left, including 800,000 hectares of virgin forests. About 200,000 hectares of forests are destroyed annually through legal and illegal logging and slash-and-burn farming, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. UNQUOTE.


I wrote about leadership in May 1972 for the souvenir program of the combined tenth-reunion of the 1962 high-school classes of Sorsogon City’s then Divine Word High School and the Colegio de la Milagrosa. I said in the editorial that “Political leadership is like water that seeks its own level. More-often than not, political leaders cannot rise above the level of the voters.”


If the people sell their votes during elections, then the political victors will not do exemplary public service during their tenure because they will spend the time in recovering the moneys that they used in buying votes. Then the cycle continues in the next election, ad infinitum. Perhaps Filipino voters will act differently in the May 2010 elections, otherwise they will deservingly continue to suffer their cruel, if not merciless, fate every time a natural calamity happens. # # #

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 11:13

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