POSTSCRIPT / February 26, 2012 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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It’s high time we shifted from fight to unity mode

WHY FIGHT?: “The Fight Is Not Yet Over,” said President Noynoy Aquino the other day on the eve of the 26th anniversary of that historic day in 1986 when the people massed on EDSA to show their resolve to get rid of then President Ferdinand Marcos and his repressive martial rule.

In the context of the Marcos regime’s arrogance of power and the impunity with which it trampled basic rights, that People’s Revolt that grabbed world attention was properly a fight.

But at this time when the urgent priority is to bind the wounds, unite the nation and move it to stability and progress, “FIGHT” should cease to be the dominant theme of the President’s speeches.

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‘TAPOS NA ANG GIYERA’: “With the recent events that are happening… it is clear that the fight that we started during the first people power is not yet over. I need your help to finish this fight,” Mr. Aquino said in a speech Friday in Trece Martires City in Cavite.

Somebody should tell the President or his speechwriters that the campaign of hate and vengeance that exposed its most vicious face in the 2010 presidential elections is over. Matagal na pong tapos ang giyera. (The war is long over.)

Combat sports aficionados will tell you that wild shouts of “Fight, fight fight!” from the crowd cannot bring to life a badly injured gladiator in the ring or octagon.

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SOMETHING EDIFYING: It is high time the exalted Office of the President came up with something unifying and edifying.

From heightened political combat, let us transition into a peace and progress mode.

Palace propagandists may want to prove cynics wrong by showing that they know more than merely moving mobs to action by feeding them hate and keeping them forever spoiling for a fight.

Destructive action elicits an equally destructive reaction. When will the cycle of retribution and vendetta ever end? And where will that leave the bleeding nation?

Prosecuting big-time grafters in government is good. But it should not distract us from the bigger agenda of moving the nation forward.

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STARK FIGURES: But some readers, obviously in another context, are saying that the “fight” is certainly not yet over.

Allowing that the fight is still on, reader Ara May Sanchez, for instance, asks us to consider:

* Marcos (1965 – 1986) — Economy collapsed in 1983. Foreign debts rose from 31 percent in 1971 to 94percent in 1986 totalling $26 billion. Unemployment rate rose from 6.3 percent in 1972 to 12.6 percent in 1985.

* Cory Aquino (1986 – 1992) — Inherited bankrupt economy; paid off $4-billion debts to regain good credit ratings but borrowed additional $9 billion, increasing debt by $5 billion within six years since Marcos was deposed. Economy posted 3.4-percent growth on her first year but remained stagnant throughout. In her final year, inflation raged at 17 percent with unemployment over 10 percent higher than in Marcos years.

* Ramos (1992 – 1998) — Generated about $20 billion in foreign investments. Philippines dubbed as “Tiger Cub Economy” in Asia but was hit hard by 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that started in Thailand (shutdown of businesses, decline in importation, rise of unemployment and unstable financial sector). From 5.2 percent in 1997, growth fell by -0.6 percent in 1998 and grew by 3.4 percent in 1999.

* Arroyo (2001 – 2010) — Annual economic growth averaged 4.5 percent every quarter, higher than Cory (3.8 percent), Ramos (3.7 percent), and Estrada (3.7 percent). Economy grew at its fastest pace in three decades in 2007, with real Gross Domestic Product growth exceeding 7 percent. The Philippines was one of the few that avoided contraction during the 2008 global financial crisis, faring better than its regional peers. “Tough decisions” (eVAT, holiday economics, oil price/MRT/LRT fares frozen) put the economy back in shape and earned praises worldwide.

* Noynoy (2010 – 2016) — Bad news: From 7 percent, GDP shrunk to 3.7 percent last year. Unemployment rate grew from 20 percent to 24 percent (9.7 million jobless). Good news: Indiscreet KKKs expect due process, Merci Gutierrez resigned, GMA detained, Corona impeached, and the President is in love. Also, laziness is rewarded and incompetence is now a virtue.

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LAME EXCUSE: If I understand what the President is being made to say by his handlers, he can start to attend to urgent problems – among them poverty, hunger, unemployment and crime – only if he is able to remove Ms Arroyo and Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

What a lame excuse for non-performance!

Former President Arroyo is already out of the way, sick and clipped of executive powers, even if she is still a congresswoman on record. She is virtually cut from circulation by her detention and hospitalization. The leeches feeding off her have dropped off, looking for another host.

As for the Chief Justice, with the debilitating demolition done on his person and family by the paid hounds of Malacañang, he has ceased to be (if ever he was) a hindrance to the Aquino program of government (if any).

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IMPROVISATION: With these two key figures stalemated on the political chessboard, President Aquino will have to look for other scapegoats to explain away his lackluster performance.

Malacañang cannot go on improvising from one expose (of alleged venality in the previous administration) to another expose. There comes a point when such distractions fail to hypnotize people in the throes of poverty.

Even entertainment has its point of diminishing returns.

Opinion surveys claiming overwhelming trust and satisfaction for the administration cannot paper over the grim reality of hunger, poverty and criminality stalking the land. People cannot eat or shield themselves with yellowish survey reports.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 26, 2012)

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