No, We Are Not Stupid Either

by 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?

P-Noy did not tell his audience, the Filipino people, that they were calling him a thief. But he told them that some were deliberately distorting issues about the PDAF and DAP so that funds greatly benefiting the Filipino people were seen as dirty as well as those who have misused, abused and stolen them. In other words, if these funds are dirty, everyone is a thief.

As P-Noy explained to the people about orchestrated attempts to confuse the issues so that thieves would not become the focus of the public ire, he made sure that the guilty parties were listening. I think he did not call the thieves by name because there would be succeeding batches of thieves who would soon find graft or plunder cases filed against them. The cases will name the thieves, not P-Noy, but the thieves will know that the cases are filed because this president is supporting the law, not blocking it.

If the thieves and their mercenaries in traditional and social media have forgotten, It was close to this time in 2011 when P-Noy criticized unnamed members of the Supreme Court, and their Chief Justice, not only by name but in his presence, during his speech at the First National Criminal Justice Summit. It was also a controversial in-your-face accusation of a Chief Justice aided by some Justices, but P-Noy showed he was not afraid of confrontation when his deepest convictions push him so.

The Supreme Court is hearing a case questioning the very constitutionality of the DAP. But the P-Noy haters are not really latching on the question of constitutionality of the DAP. They are saying that this fund is dirty because there are reports that portions of it have been used by fake NGOs, too. The fund is not dirty, but fake NGOs are, whatever funds are stolen by and through them. Dirtier, though, are the politicians who asked that funds be funneled for projects through the fake NGOs, and officers in government agencies who collaborated and orchestrated the theft.

I only have one question in my mind. The DAP is claimed to be an accomplishment worth being proud of, worth parading before the people. Imagine saving tens of billions of pesos from government projects. Imagine shifting funds from slow-moving projects to just as important but faster-moving projects. Imagine pump-priming the economy until our economy becomes the envy of the world.

With everything going for it, why did the DAP remain unknown to the people? The lack of transparency over such a huge fund that had come from savings has given rise to many questions, and allegations,  that could have been avoided in the first place. If P-Noy must address the DAP controversy, it may be to take to task why such an accomplishment is embarrassing him instead of further raising his stature before the  public.

Ah, the accusations of political patronage. What President of the Republic cannot be accused of political patronage when every fund, every project, every program, every assistance to the people, especially the poor, can be called political patronage? It is the obligation of elected public officials to take care of their constituents. But if there is not enough for everyone, those who are benefited can always be said to be favored.

The party in power, in administering to the Filipino people with funds and political influence under its control, is always accused of political patronage – especially by those in the opposition who do not have, will never have, or have lost their control of these same resources and influence. In the ideal, we can dream of governance without any sort of political patronage. But in a democracy that rewards officials with votes from grateful beneficiaries, what do we expect politicians in power to do – choose only the unpopular projects?

The heart of the political controversy regarding the PDAF and the DAP is not something hazy like political patronage, it is dishonesty of public officials and the theft of public funds. When the people’s money is being stolen, all focus should be to prosecute and convict the guilty, then prevent such from continuing by stricter implementing rules and monitoring. After that, the public should be encouraged to participate in identifying the most needed or beneficial projects and programs if the same public does not want to leave this task to the barangay, town, city, provincial officials, and district congressmen – all of whom, by the way, can be accused of political patronage.

The challenge of democracy is its very principle of a majority rule. If the majority does not actively participate in most facets of governance, then their representatives take over. That is not just a natural consequence,  that is the law. And the majority must understand that participation in governance is beyond criticizing, beyond protesting, beyond being part of the problem instead of the solution. Teaching citizens to be in many phases of governance is not something that haters would like to encourage and lead – they wouldn’t know how.

The need for change, even radical change, remains. It will affect P-Noy, it will affect presidents after P-Noy. It is a people-empowered, not a people-manipulated, movement that can bring that change. Along the way, those with hidden agenda, or necks to lose, will try to confuse us. But no, we are not stupid either.

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