01 March 2011

The next revolution

CTALK By Cito Beltran
(The Philippine Star) Updated February 25, 2011 12:00 AM

Today a privileged few will be celebrating and commemorating their revolution and their recurring victory. Once again “they” are the “bidas” and heroes of a struggle that millions of Filipinos mounted, but benefitted only the rich and now the powerful.

Yes, even these rich and now powerful people suffered. Yes they lost loved ones, and yes they were all direct victims of a dictatorship gone wrong. But so were millions more, many of us choosing to silently remember significant days of fear, oppression, repression alongside our personal victories and answered prayers.

Under the dictatorship, no one had an exclusive on pain and suffering. Most, if not all Filipinos suffered, we just never talk about it. What separates the ordinary Filipinos from today’s recycled heroes and bidas is that the latter all come from the same class of people that their enemies come from.

They all come from the same circle of politicians or politics, they are products of the same or like-minded educational institutions, they mingle in the same social circle and at the end of the day, while they may fight over power and influence, they all have the same agendas and interests to protect.

Now that the same heroes and bidas have successfully removed their second set of enemies, they are back for a second shot at personal glory or, God forbid, a second chance at personal gain.

Sadly, the rest of the country’s ordinary Filipinos continue to suffer and all the efforts of reviving and regaling about a revolution long over, is like playing a broken record over and over.

Maybe it was the congressional confirmation that “WE” are now paying the highest electric bills in the whole world, that put me in such a foul mood, or perhaps it was the self serving act of Congressmen who divided among themselves the bounty called “Road Users tax” the same way Somali pirates divide ransom money for captured cargo ships.

Or perhaps, it’s the ill effect of travelling around the country particularly in Mindanao where I repeatedly discovered governors, mayors and even small time councilors and barangay officials running local governments like their family business.

While Senators and Congressmen are loudly investigating cases of AFP corruption that happened six or seven years ago, no legislator or official in this administration has dared to investigate local officials who own malls, fastfood franchises, commercial properties and mansions just like the one owned by the Ampatuans in Davao.

Who in Congress or the government has undertaken a financial audit of LGUs and officials who recklessly borrow hundreds of millions from banks in order to fund ill-conceived development plans to insure their political future?

Is there a law, and has it ever been used to fine or imprison elected officials who take hundreds of millions in high-risk loans only to leave the problem behind for the next administration to pay?

Political experts tell me that no Senator and especially no Congressman would ever dare to question governors and mayors about their exorbitant or ostentatious construction or development projects for fear of losing votes.

As an example, if the Maguindanao massacre had not taken place, the Ampatuans could have carried on running their province as a family business, the same way several politicians and political families have been doing so, unnoticed and unchallenged.

It is interesting to note that Senators and Congressmen went after the pharmaceutical companies like a lynch mob and succeeded to cut their profits by 50 percent, all in the name of helping poor Filipinos. But now that Congress has been told officially that the Philippines has the highest residential electricity rate in the world, will they actually go after power firms?

I doubt it. Just ask whom among our Senators and Congressmen own shares of stocks in power firms and exactly how many million or hundred million pesos worth do they own? Of course some of them acquired their shares by way of compensation for legal services. Some purchased them legally prior to becoming members of Congress.

But regardless of how they acquired their shares, can we actually expect them to kill the goose that lays their golden eggs?

Can we expect the rich and the powerful to patriotically lead the real revolution we need to have today? Can we expect them to lead the fight against another form of dictatorship that many of them are part of? Can we plead for them to step down as economic dictators and dismantle their dictatorship over a nation buried in poverty? Of course not!

Ultimately, we will need a new revolution in the Philippines. It won’t be a political one just like all the other picnic-revolutions we have seen on EDSA.

Just like the “social media” revolts have overwhelmed monarchies and dictatorships in the Middle East, we will see a similar revolution in our nation. It won’t be against “government” and it won’t be political in nature.

What we will see will be a consumer-based revolution alongside a revolution of the electorate that will target specific politicians. We will find pocket wars against businesses such as power firms and their political or politician-share holders. Eventually, competition or resentment within the business community will fuel information wars against local government officials who have abused their power and their position.

Unlike our aging cynics or economic dictators, the new generation of young Filipinos are one with their fellow “NETizens”. They will share, they will Tweet, and they will inform the WORLD about the current dictators in the Philippines.

But unlike the four-lane highway that we know as EDSA, the next revolution in the Philippines will be on the electronic highway of the world.

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