Good news and bad

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

| Photo by Juliana Malta on Unsplash

It is August. There are occasional rains but no major storms so far. We had a bad earthquake, and many in the northern part of the country are still reeling from it. At the same time, considering it went beyond 7 on the Richter scale, death and destruction stayed moderate. Had the epicenter been in a metropolis, it could have been shockingly disastrous.

August traditionally was the eye of the storm, so to speak, the heart of typhoon season. It also has hosted other kinds of unfortunate or even deadly events, called by many a ghost month. I hope that the dark August meaning will not hold and instead morph into one that is lighter and more positive. The odds are against it, but I will continue to hope for good changes.

The Philippines needs a break. We had been through a tumultuous six years defined by all kinds of wars. War against drugs, a war against corruption, a war against red tape, a war against terrorism, and the war against Covid-19. Wars like these are often inevitable in life. What made the last six years heavy is that we celebrated no victories in the wars we fought. That means the wars continue.

“The Philippines needs a break. We had been through a tumultuous six years defined by all kinds of wars. War against drugs, a war against corruption, a war against red tape, a war against terrorism, and the war against Covid-19. “

Not only that, but more wars will be added. For a start, there will be a war against disinformation. Of course, it may not be a war that the national government will declare, even if disinformation is now a global monster. It is no longer strange that some governments are the brains and brawns of disinformation. Historical revisionism is a steady partner of disinformation.

Because news is now the fruit of technology, keeping one nation’s borders so closed that nothing leaks out of it is not easy. The Internet is a product and service that is not easy to deny people without that nation being left behind in progress. A few regimes do try it, though, and we see how they fall so far behind that their people are ill-informed, misinformed, and economically backward.

I cannot write much about good news because I have to wait until they happen. Good news is not propaganda; it has a basis in fact and content. Like fuel prices stopping the steep increase experienced a few months ago. For a month, prices have stabilized and even gone a bit soft due to low demand. Prices are still 20% higher than they were in early January 2022, but OPEC now wants to increase supply.

The good news is also about several presidential appointments. The expectation bar was so low that sound appointments are a real win. No need to cite the bad appointments because they were already expected to happen.

But a fire gutting the IT section of the Comelec reminded me of Mafia movies or the wild-wild history of many areas controlled by warlords. In an electronic election, the IT department stores the most critical records. Especially when massive electronic fraud is claimed by political opposition. I wonder if the controversial SDs survived the fire, although that would be an infirm assumption.

The bad news after the earthquake is that monkeypox is here, and Covid-19 is becoming more active. But some doctors who study the pattern of Covid-19 remain positive with the anticipation of its continuous decline. That would be great news, not just good.

The bad news is disinformation, and the worse news is that there will be more, not less. There is already a pattern, local and global, that shows disinformation growing massively. Until just as massive and determined efforts are launched to counter misinformation, it may cause more harm than traditional corruption. Disinformation does not stay only in social media; it also goes to the cinema.

Poverty remains steady bad news that worsened in just two months – from April to June 2022. It seems that election money had been spent, and food-poor families increased in the Visayas, Metro Manila, and Balance Luzon. It will not be a good August for the 79% who rated themselves as poor (48%) and borderline poor (31%). No major storms yet as we enter deeper into the typhoon season, so we have to hope against the odds.

“The journey, then, is clear. The most powerful engine of the nation is not pulling the government and the minority to progress but the government and the minority pulling the majority to survive.”

It is difficult to project positive developments to dominate the negative at this time, and maybe for more than a year. The Philippines is in a much weaker financial and economic status than six years ago when Aquino turned over the presidency to Duterte. Over and above that, the entire world is in a weaker position as well due to two years of Covid-19 and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Where will the positive developments then come from?

I see only we, the people, as the most possible immediate source of good news. I will stress, again and again, that we, the people are the greatest untapped source of strength and progress. But not when 79% say they are poor and borderline poor and expect the government to be their cushion. We, the people, are the natural and best cushion of government, but most turn out to be beneficiaries.

The journey, then, is clear. The most powerful engine of the nation is not pulling the government and the minority to progress but the government and the minority pulling the majority to survive. This reality must be reversed in the quickest possible time. Productivity must be raised, dependency lowered.

This is the good news I am waiting for – to see the vision, be guided by the strategies, understand the programs, and discover the roles we the people have to take on individually and collectively. I wonder where the inspiration will come from. I wonder who can bring us, the people, to embrace sacrifice and exert heroic efforts.

Without that, we will see the wild swings of some good news and much bad news. Meanwhile, let us see how August fares out.

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