Change Is Knocking At Our Doors

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

The latest survey results of Pulse Asia on approval and trust ratings of the most senior of government officials reflect the air of optimism being generated by the P-Noy administration. It is an affirmation by the people to the votes they cast in response to the personality of the winning candidates for president and vice-president.

The highest approvals of P-Noy and VP Binay affirm the acceptance of the Filipino to their respective messages and the implicit promises they contained. From candidate Noynoy, the message was, “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap,” a promise that he, as president, will pursue an anti-corruption governance relentlessly.

From candidate Jojo Binay, ‘Kay Binay, gaganda ang buhay” in tandem with “Ganoon kami sa Makati,” a promise that he, as vice-president, will take care of the people as he took care of the residents of Makati. Also, as candidate for vice-president, there was an implicit promise that he would be a loyal and hard-working subordinate to the president.

After one year of serving in their respective positions, the two highest officials of the republic are being given the highest grades by their bosses – the Filipino people. It is an affirmation P-Noy was right in putting the crusade against corruption as his number one priority, and that he continues to serve as a symbol of honesty and integrity.

VP Binay, on the other hand, despite coming from another political party and the quiet target of political opponents, including the president’s own party, affirms the people’s vote for him by being a faithful supporter to P-Noy and retains that common touch that endears him to the masa. Truly, with Jojo Binay as vice-president, the political awkwardness that could erode a high-level relationship has not stopped P-Noy from feeling secure that Binay will stab him in the back. The people, too, believe that the long-standing relationship between two families can survive the intrigue to divide them.

Since poverty is the second challenge after corruption, and, in fact, is a major reason for a determined anti-corruption governance, P-Noy must be as relentless in his anti-poverty programs. The Conditional Cash Transfer, the mass housing of those in the military and police service, and the expanding shelter program being rolled out by HUDCC are directly pro-poor initiatives that those in economic E Class appreciate. P-Noy’s approval and trust ratings are highest among the poorest of the poor.

Drastically curbing corruption is an almost impossible mission. That is why I tend to smirk when those who criticize P-Noy say he is without vision. A Philippine society that is not ruled by corruption is a vision most other politicians had been afraid to commit to. They make easier promises like improving the economy – as if that is a vision that has built a weak people to become a strong nation.

The challenge confronting P-Noy is not the economy, it is the mindset and values of the Filipino, and most especially, the morality of the various leaderships in Philippine society. It is not his business acumen for which he was elected, it is for what he can do to continue the legacy of Ninoy and Cory, how he can grow in courage and heroism before the daunting task of confronting corruption and poverty.

It is a challenge that many in his closet circle will slyly dissuade him from pursuing with an unbreakable will. A corrupt-free government will deny new appointees to perks and hidden wealth that many of their predecessors became addicted to. The system being what it has grown to be over the decades, corruption cannot be just rooted out. But a president who does not tolerate corruption among his appointees and tries to attack it wherever he can is a quantum leap over a president and a first gentleman who were largely believed to be among the most corrupt.

The rush for appointments, the aggressive moves to control the funds, including pork barrels by the billions, perpetuate the imagery of pubic officials who are unduly attracted to money more than the projects used as justification for their budgets. Only the determination of P-Noy can mitigate or moderate the greed of the rest who wield power with him. When he catches any of them, he must quickly and effectively decapitate them from position and power. Else, his pristine image where honesty and integrity are concerned will be badly tarnished and his invitation to greatness will be met with failure.

Thank goodness, though, that there are enough good and clean men and women who have been appointed. Their integrity and adherence to higher ethics and morality will act like cold water to the fire of greed of others – as much as the constant example of P-Noy. The war against corruption is bloody, costly, difficult to win, but the personal effort by P-Noy to stay unblemished is setting a strong example. It will encourage more to do the same, and discourage others who have to hide their avarice and dishonesty.

I know that Ninoy and Cory are major influences in the life of Noynoy the person and P-Noy the president. A good son will be full of fear if he should betray the noble legacy of his parents. But another force is helping P-Noy stay strong and relentless – Filipinos themselves.

More and more Filipinos who began as volunteers in the days of the campaign are now getting involved in translating that spirit through good citizenship. The tendency of Filipinos to contribute time, talent and treasure is finding warm motivation, and reception, among more citizens. The students, especially, are hearing the call for courage and nobility. Tens of thousands of them have become busy in their communities and towns doing activities that help their environment.

All this uplifting ambiance is founded on the approval and trust of Filipinos. And that approval and trust of the people are because they see change, or a great attempt for change, being led by P-Noy himself.

The funniest joke, though, is on those who, having attacked Noynoy the candidate and failed to stop him from winning the elections, now have to find all sorts of reasons why the vast majority of Filipinos hold P-Noy in their highest regard. Their demolition jobs have failed. A small percentage listens to them, and an even more miniscule portion believes in their criticisms.

There is change. It is not just around the corner, it is knocking on our doors.

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