The New Year I See

I am no prophet, no psychic either. I have looked at situations, often interpreted them intelligently, and anticipated what would happen next accurately enough. I have sometimes been wrong, too, but less about “what” and more about “when.” I notice that when I like what I anticipate would happen, I tend to want them to happen sooner.

In several yearend articles these last ten years of writing this column, I have often laid down my perspective that a new year begins much like the old year ends. What often contrasts is the attitude that a new year triggers, an attitude that is mostly colored by a wish for change. The phrase “New Year’s resolution” must have come from this attitude of wishing for change.

Prophets or psychics are gifted with visions or images. They hardly make an effort but receive these visions or images of what will occur at a future time. Yet, many without that gift want to claim they know what the future holds for a variety of reasons. Opinion writers are my favorite set of individuals who often cross the line of objectivity, writing what they want to happen but passing on their predictions as highly probable forecasts. Unfortunately for the intellectually dishonest, more so the paid hacks or the professional “jukeboxes”, their opinions are recorded and a decent effort to trace their work easily reveals their biases or attempts to mislead.

I am an opinion writer. At the same time, I have strong advocacies that I promote with the conviction that these are for the common good of Filipinos and necessary for the strong and proud nation we want to be. Ten years of writing my column have been marked by a consistency of direction and favorite causes. While I have touched on current issues and personalities, they serve more as entry points to what I believe are the more permanent directions and priorities our society should take.

Now, as one year transitions to the next, my yearned message will have a familiar ring. 2012 begins as 2011 ends. Physically, the weather will not abruptly change, the temperature will continue to become cooler, the rains will still visit us in January pretty much as they have done this December. The “new normal” that climate experts and environmentalists will continue its emerging formation of longer and wetter seasons – or longer and hotter periods.

But just as important, or even more so, is the emerging “new normal” of our political and social environment. The presidency of Noynoy Aquino is a game changer – or one representing a moment when enough Filipinos are demanding that the game be changed. By insisting on confronting corruption as his administration’s crusade, and the grave injustice that corruption inflicts on the weak, the poor and the morals and ethics of a people, P-Noy is doing something NEVER done before. It is not that no administration ever tried to address corruption before, but it never addressed the top priority, and it was never a crusade. Only the son of heroes so keenly aware of a legacy is seeing, or sensing, the mother of all battles should be fought early or cannot be fought anymore.

The impeachment of Chief Justice Renewed Corona is a signal of the extent P-Noy is willing to go. His conclusion is that Corona was put in place to protect the interests of Gloria Arroyo. That may include not just keeping her out of prison but to ensure that her other interests, her cronies and business fronts, will escape prosecution and conviction. It may seem vindictive to a small minority, but they should understand that plunder without recovery is better left untouched rather than unsuccessfully prosecuted.

In my mind, what P-Noy is doing is risking all to establish, not just a message, but a precedent and pathway for future administrations. If Filipinos approve of what P-Noy does, and most do today, plunderers will soon have no place in Philippine governance. Only a politician who has not stolen, upon becoming president, can run after thieves with a passion. It seems to me that P-Noy is seizing the moment, embracing his destiny, will use the powers of his office and the approval of the Filipino people to open Pandora’s box – whatever serpents come out of it. And I anticipate that Philippine society will experience the catharsis it needs to break a Gordian knot called corruption and its ugly fruit – poverty.

While the first attack may seem to be Corona, we must remember that the Chief Justice is also a symbol. The Filipino people do not yet know enough of Corona to judge him adversely in this confrontation with P-Noy, but the people have long judged the justice system and the judiciary that is so much a part of it. Sadly, the reputation of lawyers and judges has long been stained. It is standard chismis how many of the men and women of the law give and take bribes. Those who are forced by circumstance to sued or be sued make it as part of their due diligence to look for law firms with the right connection to dirty judges who hear their cases. It is this conclusion of many Filipinos that the Judiciary is infested with corruption as much as the Legislative and the Executive. This is to a large extent why the credibility of Corona is low, the perception that he, as many lawyers and judges, has sold out to Gloria Arroyo.

The most courageous part of P-Noy’s crusade against corruption is that he is laying the same ground for his people’s judgment of him, for the people’s judgment of his appointees and political allies, of the whole Executive and Legislative branches of government as well. I think many of his allies do not yet realize that they, too, should they turn dirty and corrupt, risk quick removal by impeachment or prosecution. This is what makes 2012 exciting for me, that change has found a New Year so ready for change.

 

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