Jose Ma. Montelibano
I wonder why many can lie outright, disguised in words that make the lie not entirely libelous, and then get shocked when confronted. Many P-Noy haters go coy and say, “No one ever accused P-Noy of being a thief.”
P-Noy came out front and center to say there are those who are trying to paint him as one when they, and not him, are the thieves. I wonder how people can say that P-Noy has not been called a thief when, in fact, many have. Insidiously, or in cowardice, they may use words like, “apparently,” “it seems,”, “it’s tantamount to,” or “according to an unnamed source,” to give legal cover to their calling him a thief. What do they think we are, stupid?
“Stop thinking of what could go wrong and start thinking of what could go right.”
I saw this quotation a few days ago while surfing in the Internet and it struck me so powerfully that I posted it in my blog. I could not even identify who the author is, but that just means that the message, and not the messenger, had great meaning for me.
The earthquake that hit Bohol and other provinces came to mind immediately. I recalled how the leadership of Gawad Kalinga (GK) quickly decided to mount a relief effort for Bohol. Since GK started with no funds but have experienced generosity from many in times of calamity, it set a target of 7,500 food packs for affected families. Just a day or two after the earthquake, the extent of the damage to people, homes and communities was not yet clear.
“Things are the way they should be.”
The present moment is not separate from its context. We are where we are because this is the continuing result of our life’s journey. This is not we wanted, I am sure, but this is what we managed to achieve, of that I am just as sure.
Our national life is a collective one, even as our individual lives are, to a controllable extent, quite distinct from it. Being distinct, however, does not mean separate. We may try to disassociate ourselves from our collective, national life, but we can never be totally apart from it.
If corruption is endemic and deeply embedded in both government and collaborators in the private sector, its cure can only be even more disturbing. A force that needs to be changed demands a greater counterforce. A people and nation long afflicted with corruption and abuse of power from the top must experience turbulence powerful enough to cleanse society.
The removal of dictators or authoritarian governments has often been easier than achieving the desired change that precipitated their removal. Disposing of unwanted leaders can happen fast, but building a new culture of governance grounded on the straight and narrow can take a long, long time. This is especially true when the change agents did not prepare themselves and the public to be led by a new set of values.
If we did not want change, then things would have remained as they were – and grown worse in the same direction. But many of us wanted change and began to pray for it to happen. Some even demanded it.
It puzzles me, then, why the same people who wanted, prayed for, and demanded change are now shocked by the predicates that will lead to change. Without the scandals and exposure of grave abuse, there will be no impetus for change. It seems that people asked for change without understanding what they wanted to change.
For decades, and more so when the excesses and abuses of martial law finally found light after the Ninoy assassination and the Edsa people-powered revolution, the cancer called “corruption” had been a favorite target of people’s criticism. Because the advocacy against corruption had been a favorite topic of not only media but people in the streets as well, I had assumed that the mechanics and details of that corruption were familiar experience of the complaining lot.
The nature of change, once the tempo picks up, is that one drama follows another until several can be happening at the same time. It was not happening that fast in 2009 when a few personalities were making their plans to run for president the year after. One senator was clearly ahead of the game, and he was ready to spend amounts that any of his rivals could not.
But August 1, 2009, changed everything. Corazon Aquino who had been battling cancer finally lost the fight but triggered a much bigger one, affecting not one human life but the life of a nation. From her death, the Tita Cory of the Philippines opened an unexpected door for her son, the door to the presidency in 2010.
These are exciting and wild times, the kind I had been anticipating. For years, I had written about great shifts that will challenge our nation, frustrations that would bring about catharsis, aspirations that would find fresh expressions among our younger generations. I wrote consistently about these times of great change because the signs were clear to me. What kept me wondering was when it would happen in the obvious, and in what ways would change manifest itself.
It was the youth that first alerted me about the imminence of change, the youth of the Philippines and the youth elsewhere. Evolution always places idealism in the younger generations, but the tempo of evolution itself sometimes intensifies in specific generations. That is very true for the youth now, for the tempo today. In the Philippines, there is a quiet passion among our youth, a surprising determination to be more involved in making a better world. This spirit of positivism tempers the anger that defines most moments of great change.
The big mistake is to be awed by the numbers of the million people march. It did not hit one million, maybe not even one half. It is a bigger mistake to not to be awed by the event last Monday because it deserves all the credit it claims.
Having several hundreds of thousands in the Luneta when there was clear organizer is a feat. In different major cities, they had their version of the Luneta gathering as well. The numbers were not overwhelming, but those same numbers are not static. Even today, the numbers grow because the spirit of million people march remains agitated.
What a week! A Napoles storm, a pork barrel storm, and a storm called Maring. If ever there was a perfect moment to be upset, it is this week. The boat has been rocked, apathy greatly disturbed, and once again, nature shows the stupidity of urban development.
The Napoles drama is one for the books. If we give credence to the still unfolding story of the P10 billion scam by a pair of whistleblowers, then a slap in the face just woke us up. The scam was a crime waiting to be committed. It was not born from greed alone, it was a fruit of arrogance, the same arrogance and sense of entitlement that, on Day One of his presidency, P-Noy called Utak Wang-Wang.
It is not as though our politicians invented power that has no moral moorings. The principle of might over right, the same principle which justified powerful nations to conquer, enslave and plunder innocent people and lands across the world, is the parent of Utak Wang-Wang. Without Utak Wang-Wang, and without an impoverished people pliant enough to accept it, the alleged Napoles way of robbing the treasury with accomplices from almost all sectors simply could not have happened.
It is almost amusing to monitor all the ranting and raving about the reported P10-billion pork barrel fund scam. The information being downloaded by the whistle-blowers are all so juicy, real or not. It makes for a good teleserye, actually. Now, another chapter is adding itself to the drama – the warrants of arrest just issued against Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother. As of this hour, I do not know if Napoles has already been arrested.
Assuming that the allegations are true instead of assuming innocence until proven guilty, there is more than enough reported wrongdoing to justify public outrage. What I find amusing is that the justification for public outrage has been there for a long time, except that the public was not outraged. After all, the whistle-blowers’ story starts from the late 90’s and established the scam formula throughout the whole Gloria and Mike Arroyo regime.