The country above all

SUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

The elections are over and as a concerned citizen, I shall focus on the country this time rather than on culture and the arts.

With a surfeit of political parties, and the shifting of loyalties so common, politicians change parties as often or as easily as they change their shirts. Our president campaigned for one set of candidates; the vice president, for another set! As the saying goes, “Only in the Philippines”.

By contrast, candidates in the USA are either Democrats or Republicans, united in the party’s causes. Occasionally, candidates run independently.

Here, the masses vote for the popular rather than the qualified candidate. Risa Hontiveros is very qualified but she lost. I voted for her as I did for Grace Poe who got many votes, having been identified with her father; fortunately, she is both popular and qualified. The totally qualified Jun Magsaysay lost.

People keep voting into office candidates who have criminal records or who have done this country tremendous DIS-service. Further, VIPs behind bars enjoy outrageous privileges; they have flat screen TV sets, refrigerators in their cells and shockingly they are allowed cellphones. How often they leave prison at their leisure! Even allowed “girly-entertainment”?!

International surveys show that our country is one of the world’s most corrupt. There has been a slight improvement since P-Noy took office, sadly his six years in office will not be enough to fix corruption still rampant in all government agencies. Our military lack airplanes, ships, ammunitions and equipment; with stories floating around that most funds are siphoned by some generals whose wives enjoy travels and shopping sprees abroad.

About 20 years ago, I asked an American visiting professor at the UP what he regarded the weakest aspect of our country’s governance. He quickly replied: “The administration of justice.”  Cases are decided at a snail’s pace; some judges are known to accept bribes. The mailing system is so unreliable; packages are often opened to check if money or valuables are enclosed, then stamped with “Damaged upon receipt.”  Thus mail and utility bills are sent via the more expensive courier.

Many years ago, as I was taking my morning walk, a foreigner who was then my regular companion told me that when she arrived from abroad, she had to stop by 17 tables, with each table asking for a “fix”. In the end, what she gave out exceeded the amount of the gift she brought for a friend!

Infrastructure projects are often at a standstill. In most cases, after roads are repaired, they quickly fall into disrepair because a large part of the funds goes to the politicians and contractors, and what is left can buy only inferior materials for repairs.

This brings me to the onerous pork barrel funds. Just how much of these goes to benefit the country and how much to the private pockets of those who each receive P200 million annually in the lower and higher houses of government? It is no wonder so many people aspire to be in politics!!!!

Our country is not only one of the most corrupt; it is also one of the most undisciplined. Accidents are often caused by lawless and reckless drivers without regard to the rules of the road.

Poverty in the country among our people even in this 21st century force the poor to use candles in their homes. This country has been reported to have one of the highest if not the highest rates for electricity in the world; illegal connections by illegal settlers often cause tragic fires affecting whole communities.

Crimes committed by people “riding in tandem on motorcycles” seem to be a daily occurrence, with suspects going scot free.

The yearly typhoons leave not just the streets but whole cities flooded. Let us not forget the lesson taught us by typhoon “Ondoy”. May God have mercy on illegal loggers who denude the forests, causing devastating floods further causing havoc on the economy. Here we go back to the slack administration of justice. Here pork barrels can certainly be used to dredge trash from canals and improve sewers, floodways to handle the deluge of typhoons.

In the 2016 elections, unscrupulous politicians will again misguide and bribe the masses. A revised Constitution should disqualify presidential and vice-presidential candidates without college degrees. When my sister, Helen was the PRO of the Dept. of Health, she was required to pass a civil exam, should not political candidates be required more?

Thank the good Lord for certain columnists, radio/TV personalities who can’t be bought, whose unwavering integrity leads them to name names in audacious and fearless exposes, whose nationalistic concern, above all, is the country’s weal.


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