FROM her last SONA (State of the Nation Address) to the on-going media blitz, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now governs by delusion. Regarded by most as an illegitimate president, she now weaves fairy tales to extend the life of her incumbency.
As a journalist is committed to espouse the truth and expose lies and half truths, so do I find it my most sacred duty to help clear the smokescreen and the layers and layers of cobwebs that have been spun around the plight and poor state of the nation.
No country can ever move forward on decision-making based on false assumptions, premises and in our case, even deliberately-spun myths. When Germany lost its national pride and soul after World War I, the Germans were desperately eager to reinstate what they believed was the lost splendor of their race and their country. They blindly embraced Adolf Hitler's megalomaniac promise of the Thousand Year Reich. To them, Hitler was the messiah that will reconnect Germany's allegedly glorious past to their supposedly glorious future. The truth finally caught up with the Nazi Reich. Germany and its people ended up with a country in tatters and a people that had to live with the shame and ignominy of being part of a regime that had inflicted some of the most atrocious crimes against humanity.
A good doctor will want to summon all sophisticated technology - X-rays, MRI's, Ultrasound and all of today's modern gizmos - just to ensure the accuracy of his diagnosis. Only then can that doctor feel confident about prescribing a cure. But a government which deliberately enshrouds the injury, the pain and the true state of its people's conditions with false pictures of normality because this is the only way it can continue to rule and escape blame for its own sins, can only do further harm. If we allow this era of mythmaking and the spinning of delusions to wreak havoc on our lives and our country, we will only be facilitating the spread of our political and social gangrene. If our nation is to make the right decisions that will reverse our downward spiral, those decisions must be based on the truth and nothing but the truth.
The truth about Charter Change
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had acquiesced to the formula proffered by Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) and Joe de Venecia (JDV) because their party, the Lakas-CMD, happens to be the last bastion of support for her foundering regime. This reminds me of the fate that befell Richard III in the Shakespearean play bearing the same title. When Richard III lost the Battle of Bosworth to the Earl of Richmond (later, Henry VII), he cried out: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" He was rhetorically offering his lost kingdom for a horse. After having gained the crown in a ruthless manner, he now bargains to offer his lost crown to save his life but to no avail. In the case of Macapagal-Arroyo, it is now her 'kingdom' (and her life) in exchange for charter change.
But the truth is Charter change will not bring about our desired reforms for as long as the same wolves and hyenas that now populate Congress will also become the members of the proposed parliament. Under these circumstances, by combining executive and legislative functions, charter change can only bestow more power to JDV and his ilk. It would be better to give the Mafia law enforcement functions.
So what salvation is there in charter change? Do you see JDV and his gang of power brokers in congress suddenly acting responsibly and instead of thinking of how to further their interests, will now think of the people? Do you see them passing the anti-dynasty and the anti-turncoatism (party switching) acts finally? If you are a businessman, can you now see them as an ally instead of that "gang of extortionists and thieves" many businesses dread and fear?
Our biggest problem is the people running the system and less of the system itself. Unless the nation develops that capability to become a mature and viable democracy where its citizens perform their appropriate roles to achieve common good, we can only pull ourselves lower and lower in the social abyss.
Charter change is the recourse of election losers and trapos like Joe de Venecia who know fully well that he can never win an election where votes of real people are counted. In 1998, people's nausea over the trapo stereotype dumped JDV's presidential fantasy. Despite JDV's massive party machinery and the support of then incumbent president FVR, the electorate's disgust revealed itself in an unequivocal rejection for JDV. Now, JDV and his ilk seek to change the rules of the game so that they can govern as prime minister under the parliamentary system. Do we now allow JDV to amass power as prime minister under a parliamentary system that will in effect make him even more powerful than a president? National seppuku would perhaps bring about a kinder end to all our problems than this.
The truth about Gloria's replacement
The biggest yarn being foisted on the country is that nobody can replace Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The fact that we have a vice-president who does not inspire confidence and an opposition which is not credible reinforces belief for this myth.
But any self-respecting Filipino cannot and should not accept the claims of Macapagal-Arroyo and her spinmeisters that she is irreplaceable. How can Macapagal-Arroyo who brought us to our worst economic and political crisis be irreplaceable? If we are to believe that, then we may as well sell this country to the highest bidding superpower, China or the US. If that is the case, then we might as well stop calling ourselves Filipinos and stop pretending to have a national identity and pride. That kind of thinking puts us in a worse category than slaves who have been known in history to have fiercely and unceasingly fought for their freedom. This thinking smacks of a cowardly, defeatist attitude and a lack of faith in one's own race.
The truth is that Filipinos are running the world. Our brave and enterprising OFWs are making their presence felt in various fields of endeavor all over the world, in industries, films, art, entertainment, hospitals, households, and so forth. Even from within our rotten political system, we do have a few good men and women who will make a better president than Macapagal-Arroyo.
Given a snap election scenario, right off the bat - I cite Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, a former and successful general manager of GSIS and president of PAL during the Cory years (and these were the times when GSIS and PAL were profitable), former representative and Speaker of the House of Representatives. When Sonny took over Quezon City, the city coffers were empty, the city was bankrupt. Barely three years after he took over, Quezon City became the richest local government in the country. Considering that one of our biggest problems is our fiscal deficit, logic dictates that Sonny Belmonte is the best man for the job.
Not only that, Sonny comes from the middle class and never showed any desire to join the 'big elite' club of the country. The Belmonte family is financially comfortable owing to the fruits of their labor which is the highly-profitable operations of the Philippine STAR and the STAR group of publications. I have not heard of any scandal - whether regarding money or sexual interludes - that has been leveled against Sonny.
On these points of comparison alone, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot even dream to compare herself with Sonny Belmonte. In terms of executive experience (GSIS, PAL, Quezon City local government) and legislative experience (representative and Speaker of the House of Representatives), Gloria is dwarfed by Sonny. In terms of integrity, Sonny is not hounded by scandals. He was married to the late Betty Go Belmonte, a devout and virtuous wife, mother, friend, businesswoman and a model Christian. In contrast, the incumbent is married to one whose track record of scandals and controversies had made him some sort of a national calamity. To compare with presidential son Mikey, Sonny has sons Miguel, Isaac, and Kevin Belmonte. Take my word for it, as I know the Belmonte family well, there is no comparison.
With all these superlatives going for him, so how come Sonny Belmonte is not our president? Blame that on our corrupt political system which requires any good man to compromise his principles in order to win the presidency. You will need no less than Ali Baba's hoard if you care to even dream of financing a viable presidential campaign.
And for the most part, we have only ourselves to blame for electing the likes of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo - when in fact and in truth we do have much better presidential candidates to choose from. We are the stockholders of Philippine democracy. So why don't we vote for the right people?
You may email William M. Esposo at: firstname.lastname@example.org