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Opinion

May 9 – our chance to save the nation!

POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

The May 9 national elections for a new president and a host of other key officials could possibly be the last chance in our lifetime to take back peacefully our nation from inept officials and the crooks who have sapped the vitality of our long-suffering people.

All patriotic voters must go to the polling precincts early Monday to help save our nation from further damage in the hands of thieves (“magnanakaw”) who have lingered or returned to the scene of the crime to cover their tracks.

The nation is bleeding internally even as foreigners enjoying access to strategic maritime areas are poised to grab more choice possessions with the help of their “suki” in government, some of whom are running in the May 9 polls.

Regular elections provide a mechanism for getting rid of inept and corrupt officials. But with the way the system has morphed, the poll exercises merely made more firm their grip on power, public funds and business opportunities.

The elections give us a chance to improve how the government looks after the interests of the greater number, review policy directions and, if necessary, to adjust our position in relation to the rest of the world.

Elections’ supposedly cleaning the system of undesirable elements is frustrated by scheming officials who use their position to accumulate power and wealth to entrench themselves, their families and cronies.

Their noxious presence has become so overwhelming that many of us who are stuck in these islands have lingering fears that we would always lose elections to rotten politicians with superior resources.

Still in the running this May for the top and lower positions in government are unrepentant crooks, unmindful of the pending cases against them. One suspects they could be running precisely to gain protection from prosecution.

There is a widespread belief that if an official were to steal or plunder public funds, he would have to grab something really extra big because he would need it to stall prosecution, wash away traces of guilt and buy back respectability.

Moral ascendancy a key to reform

It makes a big difference to us that Vice President Leni Robredo, one of the two leading candidates for president (the other one being former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.), enters the race without what President Duterte calls a “whiff of corruption.”

Since serving as a “pro bono” lawyer with the Public Attorney’s Office and becoming in 2013 the representative of Camarines Sur’s third congressional district, she has never been linked to any shady deal. She has remained exemplary until now, even with her limited resources as Vice President.

We’re mentioning this because we think it would give her moral ascendancy when, if elected president, she launches a reform program to rekindle the people’s waning trust in the government. As we said in this space:

• On April 26 – In choosing the next president, “Let’s go for one who would be the best role model for our children… one who is known to be morally upright, bright and respected in the community, one who has a track record of competence, inspiring leadership and whose heart beats for the least of our countrymen.”

• On April 24 – “Who we elect as president reflects on what kind of people we Filipinos are. While the president’s primary job is to look after us, we want to be sure that when he deals with his foreign counterparts and speaks abroad for the people back home, he is not bogged down by baggage and fails to project the best in him and in us.”

Let’s not squander the rare opportunity on May 9 to kick out/keep out the rascals and bring in competent reformist public servants into the government. If we ignore this opening, the reformative intentions of democratic elections would have been defeated.

Let us not miss our rendezvous with history on Monday! Let’s vote wisely!

Leni details economic recovery

While waiting for Marcos to explain the details of his platform, we spotted a video of Robredo on her five-point economic recovery plan addressing the hardships being experienced by Filipinos in the “laylayan” (hemline or fringes) of society.

Speaking in Filipino, Robredo said, “Angat Buhay Pilipino is a broad plan for economic recovery. It is not just a promise to reduce the price of rice, electricity or gasoline. These are solutions to the root of the problems.

“My belief is that the people should be at the center of economic recovery. In our plan, if you lose your job, you will get assistance for three months. If you still cannot find one during this period, it will be the government that will provide you with employment.

“Age and gender should not be a hindrance to having a livelihood. You can also get training for additional knowledge and skills.”

On another basic concern, Robredo promised to ensure the health and wellbeing of all Filipinos, citing the need to fix the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and give every family free access to a doctor.

She vowed to improve the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by including mothers and the newborn in the conditional cash transfer to ensure their well-being in the first 1,000 days.

“We will also expand the school-based feeding program in public primary and secondary schools so our children will no longer be hungry,” she said.

In another video, we saw Marcos still talking about “unity,” his mantra, without explaining how he intends to heal the deep divisions in the nation. He should share with thinking Filipinos his thoughts on issues and elaborate on the details of his plans and programs.

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NB: All Postscripts are also archived at ManilaMail.com. Author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email: [email protected]

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