by Gemma Dimaculangan ( Her letter as posted on the Internet and later published in Inquierer.net)
(This letter was forwarded to me by a good friend. I find it representative of how today’s Filipinos think and feel about the issues facing the Philippine politics. I challenge all thinking Bicolanos – particularly Bulanenõs- to give and share their analysis of it and I’m looking forward to receiving your comments soon.- jun asuncion)
I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn’t true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?
Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my TV to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men – too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these “honorable” crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!
I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like “Honorable”, “Senator”, “Justice”, “General” and worse, “President”. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlumm and his band of moneymen. Their motto? “Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich.”
It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!
I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family’s, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation’s coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutted roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.
And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone’s morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own “pag bad ka, lagot ka!” slogan.. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it’s all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?
And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. “Love (of power) is blind” takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband’s financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.
They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don’t agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won’t make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it..
But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.
Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!
I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandboox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.
I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you,, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.
I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.
Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country.. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field.. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.
For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more. /
3 thoughts on “We Can Do Much More To Our Country”
My latest commentary on Philippine politics published by Korea Times:
Ms. Gemma Dimaculangan’s article is, perhaps, one of the best speeches I ever read, comparing our honorable public servant to a criminal. But this kind of criminal wears suits and barong.
while ordinary criminal wears t-shirt with marking, BJMP Detainee.
Truly, these kind of criminals are roaming around in the Halls of Congress unguarded (House of Representatives & Senate), Halls of Justice, Executive House/Palace, AFP NHQ and PNP NHQ, Provincial Capitols, Municipal/City Halls, they are all over, enjoying the comfort and luxury/prestige of power, unpunished for the crime of corruption/plunder against the government in particular and the suffering people in general.
Gemma says – “I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like “Honorable”, “Senator”, “Justice”, “General” and worse, “President”. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? “Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich.”
“It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!”
I would say that Corrupt Government Leaders Have No Moral Authority to Lead the Nation!
CAN WE EXPECT BETTER LEADERS FOR TOMORROW IF WHAT THE CHILDREN SEE AND HEAR IN THEIR MIDST ARE LEADERS WHO ARE OUTRIGHT LIARS, CHEATS, GREEDY AND DISRESPECTFUL OF THEIR BASIC RIGHTS?
We cannot teach our children what HONESTY is all about without having to be confronted with the DISHONESTY of our national leaders.
In the PHILIPPINES – Graft and corruption has been a fact of national life since post-Liberation days. Almost every administration has had its big and sensational graft cases. At every presidential election, one major issue that is always raised is graft and corruption. Opposition leaders denounce the graft being committed by the administration, but once they take over the reins of government, they also commit graft. It’s just a case of different sets of people pigging out at the trough that is the national treasury at different times.
Graft and corruption flourishes because of the culture of impunity. Have you heard of any big fish being convicted of corruption and plunder, except deposed president Joseph Estrada? Yes, Estrada was convicted of plunder, but he did not spend even a day in a real prison. Only six weeks after his conviction, he was pardoned by President Arroyo. Was that any way to set an example for the other grafters in government and to would-be grafters and plunderers? (an Editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer)
In AFRICA – (Reuters) – Roman Catholic bishops called on corrupt Catholic leaders in Africa on Friday to repent or resign for giving the continent and the Church a bad name.
Their three-week synod, which ends formally on Sunday with a mass by Pope Benedict, covered a range of Africa’s problems, such as AIDS, corruption, poverty, development aspirations and crime.
But it had a very direct message for corrupt African leaders who were raised Catholics.
“Many Catholics in high office have fallen woefully short in their performance in office. The synod calls on such people to repent, or quit the public arena and stop causing havoc to the people and giving the Catholic Church a bad name.”
The international community has for years called on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who was raised a Catholic and educated by Jesuits, to step down, saying he had brought his once-prosperous country to its knees.
Another African leader who was raised a Catholic and has been accused of corruption is Angola’s President Eduardo dos Santos. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers in the House of Representatives expressed support to the “Moral Force Movement” initiated by Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno.
In her text message to media, Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay said Puno should put his words into action for good governance by running after the so called “hoodlums in robes.”
“I agree with him but I think he should start with his own backyard and cleanse the judiciary of possible corruption because that is within his mandate and control. We all have to start somewhere,” the lady lawmaker said.
Earlier Tuesday, SC spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez named the eight members who would constitute the moral force movement.
Puno at the same time asked Filipinos to work together to combat widespread corruption in government, saying that the country is now perceived in the world as a “moral pariah.”
But Magsaysay warned that without action, Puno’s call is nothing more than a lip service and motherhood statement.
For his part, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said the public should support Puno’s movement for its good intentions.
“The government and the people should listen to his message since fighting corruption will result in a better life for all Filipinos since more resources can be channeled to better public investments in education, health, development, etc,” he stressed.
Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puentevella also expressed his support to Puno’s crusade. “Government alone can’t do this job. Everyone must help because corruption is endemic in the private sector as well as in government. It’s been there for ages, not only now,” he said.
Earlier this year, Puno underscored a need for a moral force and lamented that the main problem of the country was “moral decadence.” He said the country has too many laws but lacked in morality. – GMANews. TV
The obsession of PGMA to remain in power invites corruption in government. – The factor that impedes a sound and effective management of the country is the “magnificent” obsession of President Arroyo –magnificent for her but not for the nation — to win the election in perpetuity (ayaw na kasi bumaba sa pwesto pati House of Representatives pinupunteria niya sa 2010).
Almost all her activities and decisions are designed towards a single purpose: to win votes and not lose them for her election in 2010, possibly in Congress up to eternity. The common good is sacrificed before the altar of extravagant ambition to get elected as president (as the next Congresswoman of Pampanga). As I see it, President Arroyo is determined to hold on to political power no matter what it will cost the nation.
This obsessive desire to remain in power beyond its present term renders the Arroyo administration in disarray. This disarray, this failure of the officialdom to put its act in order, is the daily fare of national and provincial print and broadcast media.
Poverty in the country has become appalling. The gap between the poor who are many and the rich who are few has greatly widened.
Corruption is seen as generally widespread in the government. And, our people have become cynical and mistrustful about politicians.
President Arroyo herself said in one of her SONA (many years back) that we are at war. We are at war against lawbreakers –
We are at war against criminal elements — kidnappers, carnappers, tax evaders, smugglers, jueteng lords, drug lords, and other lawless bands.
We are at war against poverty, oppression, and injustice.
And we are at war against pervasive corruption in all levels of government.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said – we do not have the resources to win the wars. And worse, we do not have a leader that can truly direct, manage, and govern our nation. (Senator JPE is a pro-administration senator, yet he is criticizing the statement of his own boss in malacanang palace)
We need a leader that can inspire our people. One that can win back and offer hope to the oppressed. (of course, not PGMA)
We need a leader that can restore the cohesion and unity of our society and rally our people to cooperate and work together for the common good and the betterment of the society.
We need a leader who would rather serve than be served, who says what he means and means what he says, and who puts duty over ambition and national interest above self-interest.
We need a leader who renders justice to every man alike, whether close to him or not, and who does not regard justice as the interest of the stronger or the doing of good to friends and harm to enemies.
We need a leader who believes in law as the expression of the general will, which must be the same for all, in protecting men as in punishing them, and a leader who embraces the rule of law with fidelity and makes it a political religion of the nation.
We need a leader that does not lust for power. One that does not make the judicial and legislative arms of the government his tools to legitimize the wanton transgression of the laws and the Constitution. We need a leader that will not pull down the rich to the level of the poor, but rather to lift the poor up and bring them closer to the level of the rich. We need a leader who has a concrete vision for the country and a sound program of government to serve as our road map and guide in our quest for peace, progress, and stability in our land. We need a leader that can bind and heal the wound of this nation. (ref: Speech of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile entitled “A Wounded Nation”).
In the last paragraph, Gemma says – As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.
I would say also that before these crooks or voracious leaders would lead us to perdition, let us do something for our country, I know some of these crooks would seek re-election to public office in the coming May 2010 national and local electoral exercises. By all means, don’t vote for them!!!
Sir Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
DAY OF MELANCHOLY
Tonyboy G. Gilana
It is November 10. We all listened once more today to the news, hoping perhaps the contents and contexts more complete, perhaps more comprehensive. The air is still melancholic!
Yesterday, November 9, in early afternoon, we received calls of a tragedy, and we all tensely waited for the news. Everywhere, different versions were being buzzed around by people, but the truth was there – eight young policemen from the 509th PPMG, on a hot pursuit operation, aboard their police mobile, were blasted by a landmine said to be planted by the New People’s Army, along the Barangays Antipolo-Calomagon road at around 11:30 in the morning, but not without a fight. Four of the police officers were killed, and two seriously injured, two others escaped. Another unidentified body was brought downtown to Funeraria Labalan. The reports said he was a member of the New Peoples’ Army. Those who died were natives of other towns, except for one Bulaneno, the locally-renowned nemesis of the NPAs in Bulan, SPO1 Johnson Gerola, labeled by his colleagues in the service as “The Legend Tiger” because he outsurvived his police batchmates in Bulan, and because he had survived many military battles and attempts on his life. He did not survive this time. But he died, together with his colleagues, in the performance of a patriotic duty. They are heroes in their own right.
And maybe, too, that unidentified NPA cadre, is a hero in the eyes of his comrades-in-arms. They should be relishing their victory now in their mountain hide-out.
There was a certain tension all over town, even though the fatal ambush took place in an isolated, remote roadside, some ten kilometers away from the poblacion. This war, now of attrition, has been taking place in pockets, for more than thirty years now, all over the country, and here in Sorsogon. Until when it will last, we never don’t know. We hope the better, more positive side of the leaders and negotiators from both sides come out for the good of all, that war is not a solution to our existing problems. Or that, war is causing us more problems than ever. Ironically, however, it is also this war that may purge us of the evils in the system that we are in.
And there was the paradox of silence and hushed noise among the townspeople as they crowded outside of the Bulan Municipal Police Station downtown and the 509th Police Provincial Mobile Group camp, or at the Funeraria Labalan where almost everyone wanted a glimpse of the dead. Families and friends shed tears for the fallen officers. Everybody seemed affected as groups and pockets of people, bystanders, huddled for the news, in many corners.
It is another rare instance today, that the peace of the town was once more broken. Every now and then, over the past years, we are shattered by news that this person or that policeman or armyman died, shot by somebody from whose side we seem to all know. To us in Bulan, it is always a big deal when we hear of those news because it is not commonplace. Despite this long-running war between government and the NPA rebels, Bulan has been a relatively peaceful town, and the townspeople, peace-loving, normally goes on and moves on with life, busy with living, making a living, as if, especially those in the urban areas, these things do not exist. In the remote barangays, especially those said to be influenced by the NPA cadres, the people, especially the barangay leaders, though afraid and cautious, fearful for their own safety, skillfully, prudently and wisely relates and deals with both sides, but do not seriously side with either of them. If the NPAs come, they welcome them. If the military patrol comes, they welcome them. The bottomline, for the local leaders, or the barangay chiefs, is that the lives of our families, of our children, of our residents, are safeguarded, and that we not be caught in your crossfires — (Those whom we love are more important than your ideologies, or your systems, or your philosophies, or your politics. You come and you go, but we remain here in this barrio, in this place, in this town.) I think these local officials and barangay leaders are heroes. They have courage in the midst of their fears. And yet they may, or can, be persecuted by either side.
The delivery of the dead fighters downtown is big news for the young generation today. Many were yet unborn when Bulan was drenched in blood during the Martial Law days, when every night was always broken by the exchange of gunfires, maybe in San Ramon, Marinab, Gabod, Busay. In 1972-76, during those darkest of years, the cadavers of both the military and the rebels were delivered daily, their pitiful broken corpses lined-up or displayed in one usual sad place in front of the police precinct. And we heard of the names of rebels, or they call them “freedom fighters” Tony Ariado, Nanette Vytiaco, Fenito Guan, Anihay, or from the other military side, Sgt. De Leon, etc. Those were really the years of living dangerously. I was ten or eleven years old when Martial Law was declared and we already felt the melancholy of the time.
The generation of today are fortunate, because they live in a time of relative peace.
But I think the generation of yesterday were more fortunate, because they were tried and tested in the crucible of those dark years, in vicissitude, in blood, in fear, in hope, in tears, in patriotism. Whether those who have fallen fought for government or against the government, they have not died in vain, if they died with that purity of intention and love of country. And for those who lived, they sure know what patriotism or betrayal meant. They emerged stronger.
And now, this day of melancholy hovers upon us, maybe, until the dead police officers are interred. Or for the families, until they shall have accepted the fate that descended upon their beloved. Both sides went there to perform a sacred duty, whatever their ideologies must have been.
I dream of that day when leaders will sit across tables, in negotiation, in truce, in goodwill and there settle differences rather than in the battlefields. I dream of that day when no corpse will come down from the mountain, and break the hearts of our people. I dream of that day when our rice and coconut farmers can bring in the best produce of their land because there are no more bullets from crossfires to fear for. I dream of that day when our our babies and our kids grow peacefully; our families live, not in fear but in friendship with one another.
I also dream of that day when there will be no more freedom fighters going to the hills to stage a revolution because they think government did not care for them, so they sought refuge in their beliefs even if this means death as a matter of sacrifice for others.
And I dream of that government, pure and honest, that takes into its caring fold every citizen, and then brings him up truly a person of dignity. I dream of this and much more…
It seems an impossible dream because history has proven that to us, from the beginning of time, all over the world. But there is no reason to despair as long as there is hope in men, and as long as there are hearts and hands to realize that dream.