POSTSCRIPT / December 28, 2014 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Not a sign of hope, but a cry for change

FALSE FAÇADE: Could a poor housewife take to the sari-sari store the SWS survey claiming 93 percent of Filipinos face the coming new year with “hope rather than fear” and exchange that poll score for a bag of food for her children?

If Yes, then let us have more of these feel-good surveys attempting to create a façade of confidence that the administration will finally improve the quality of life of the “bosses” of President Noynoy Aquino huddled in their hovels.

If No, then let us put a stop to these surveys that paint a false picture of the state of mind of Filipinos who have been reduced to eternally hoping for the elusive better life.

The 93-percent “hopeful” result is not a vote of confidence or a sign that the masses are happy. It is a clamor for the Aquino administration to do something naman for the poor, instead of making it more lucrative for politicians and the 7 percent who have cornered the nation’s wealth.

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DASAL AT SUGAL: With the odds against them, the only cheap and ready recourse open to most Filipinos is to hope. Bahala na, may awa ang Dios.

With no salvavida being tossed to him by the government, the ever hopeful Filipino sinks deeper intodasal at sugal (praying and gambling). Plain folk flock to churches, lottery stations and jueteng bet collectors hoping to find relief from earthly worries.

But the cards are stacked up against the masses since politicians holding the reins of government and the capitalists funding them would rather keep the people poor and ignorant so they will be easier to manipulate.

When 93 percent of Filipinos tell pollsters they hope for a better new year, they are not really hopeful in the sense of exuding confidence that their prayers will be answered in 2015, but that they are clamoring for, they are demanding, a change for the better.

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ETERNALLY HOPEFUL: The Social Weather Stations said the 93 percent score was slightly lower than the 94 percent of respondents who had faced 2014 with hope. The supposed hope is widespread – 91 percent in Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao, and 96 percent in balance Luzon.

Assuming the SWS surveys are reliable, the New Year “hope” hardly changed from 2012 to 2014: 92 percent in 2012, 94 percent in 2013 and 93 percent in 2014.

New Year hope has remained unchanged for three years in Metro Manila – 91 percent in both 2013 and 2014, and 93 percent in 2012 – after two consecutive record-high 96 percent in 2011 and 2010.

People keep hoping despite the reality that the politicians consistently fail to deliver and that the rosy statistics are hard to digest on an empty stomach.

Next year the hope level is likely to go up again – because of the 2016 elections. Every time national elections come around, the people go through the same cycle of heightened hoping for the better.

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FALSE PROSPERITY: There is basis for hoping for some kind of prosperity next year. With the campaign season in the offing, millions will start flowing out of the war chest of politicians. A slew of candidates will be spending with the help of their parties and capitalist bettors.

Without necessarily improving the economy in the macro-sense, millions will flow into the money stream, boosting the purchasing power of a great number of people who are adept at it or properly positioned to catch the windfall.

The increased spending will stimulate activity in various sectors in the economy. But if economic managers are not up to it – and they are likely to just sit idly by waiting for the turnover of regimes — that false prosperity will have no lasting effect on the economic well-being of the people.

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IMMUNITY OUT: With his reelection having been ruled out and, we presume, feeling the ground shaking under his feet, there are indications that the President wants to make peace with selected political moguls.

Making one step backwards is tactically sound since the President will lose his immunity from suit when he steps down on June 30, 2016, with the takeover of a newly elected Chief Executive who may not be as friendly as desired.

The President has to contend with the many prominent victims of his anti-corruption campaign likely to bounce back to power, some no-nonsense anti-crime advocates, and those who cannot take sitting down the President’s alleged violations of the Constitution.

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ARROYO FURLOUGH: That was a welcome administration gesture of allowing the Christmas furlough of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now a Pampanga congresswoman.

The Sandiganbayan that sent GMA home for the holidays is with the judiciary, a separate branch, but something as tectonic as issuing a pass to the high-profile detainee would not happen in this small village without the say-so of the President.

It was reasonable to allow GMA home for three days because she was still presumed innocent and the evidence against her in that Sweepstakes plunder case is weak anyway. But since the Sandiganbayan could not say that, it reached for the silly excuse that Pope Francis was coming for a visit in January.

Plunder is a conspiracy where all the accused are judged together and equally. They are all either guilty or innocent. How come GMA’s co-accused have been allowed bail and she was not?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 28, 2014)

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