SHEDDING THE LIGHT OF TRUTH ON CURRENT PHILIPPINE REALITIES:
RECOVERING THE SPIRIT OF DR. JOSE RIZAL’S NOLI ME TANGERE:
REJECTING MORAL CORRUPTION, PROMOTING MORAL VIRTUE
February 22, 2011
The Social Cancer in Rizal’s Time and in Our Time
In 1886 our national hero Dr. José Rizal wrote his immortal Noli Me Tangere. In his introduction to the novel he affirmed that he aimed to raise a part of the veil covering the social cancer that was causing Philippine society to sink ever deeper into colonial bondage, ignorance, disease, and destitution. This social cancer was a pernicious socio-economic and political system that fed on the ignorance, incompetence, corruption, and hypocrisy of a critical mass of the Spanish colonialists and their native collaborators who ruled the Philippines at that time.
Today our country is in a similar situation. Under the rule of an administration that promised to take the path of righteousness and reform, our country and our people are suffering from a social cancer like that denounced by Rizal. Because of that social cancer, the life of ordinary Filipinos—the middle class and especially the poor--is not any better, and in fact is becoming more difficult and more dangerous. Even the rich are less and less secure in their persons and possessions.
Why have conditions in our country come to be this way? Things have become this way because the leaders of the political establishment who control the government of our country today are guilty of incompetence and corruption. Deceitfully concealed by ostentatious pronouncements dripping with hypocrisy, they unintentionally and unwillingly reveal their incompetence and corruption by their use of evasive discourse and inconsistent attempts an explanation.
This incompetence and corruption is not just in terms of specific areas of governance. It has gone to the point of wantonly manipulating the electoral institutions and processes which are the very foundation of the democratic way of life that our people have chosen, in order to maintain the illusion of a massive and uncontestable electoral mandate.
Incompetence of the Administration
The incumbent administration has revealed itself as incompetent. It gravely mishandled the Luneta hostage crisis of August 2010. Its bizarre moves in foreign affairs have unnecessarily offended Taiwan while earning the contempt of China. This administration is unable to contain the increasing incidence of crime that now kills and injures even the wealthy. It cannot capture high profile persons wanted by the law, who are just hiding within the country. In relation to the peace negotiations with extremist insurgent groups, it has granted them unwarranted concessions that have gravely weakened the negotiating position of the government. The recent capture of top CPP and NPA leaders was achieved by conscientious and competent elements within the AFP and the PNP, not because of, but rather in spite of the thrust of this administration’s policy in relation to the insurgencies.
The societal damage inflicted by the incompetence of the political establishment running the government is worsened by a mean, petty, self-righteous, and mentally dishonest attitude and mode of actuation, typically seen in their divisive treatment of the officer corps of the AFP and the PNP, and the intelligence community as well, reducing the effectiveness of these institutions. This mean, petty, dishonest, and self-righteous attitude is shown by their repudiating or dismantling of even the good policies and programs of past administrations, and attempting to take credit for some of the achievements of these past administrations.
Corruption of the Administration
This administration has shown itself to be corrupt, and with that corruption they are burdening our people with more hardship. This corruption is shown in many ways. One is the coddling of incompetent persons who were given high government positions, and when unable to perform up to standards, are retained in their positions or sent abroad for schooling in the knowledge and skills of the job they were appointed to. Foisting upon the people a government by improvisation, which spends the
people’s money to no good result, is indeed corruption. Then there is the rampant smuggling in major ports outside the Metro Manila. Its increasing the size of the graft-ridden pork barrel is of a piece with its other corrupt practices.
In addition, jueteng remains rampant as ever, and will soon be concealed under the guise of the so-called Loterya. This is not surprising since one of the high officials being coddled by the top person of this administration has been caught by the Senate dealing with a top jueteng magnate, after an attempt by a blatant lie to deny any such contact. Lately information has surfaced of public officials belonging to the ruling party engaging in illegal logging, often in collusion with insurgent forces,
ironically with the toleration of an administration that claims to have taken the righteous path.
There is also the matter of gifts of intimate personal favors and expensive cars. Receiving these is indeed corruption, as willy-nilly these will affect decisions on public policies and appointments. The moral culpability of receiving these favors and gifts forbidden by law is worsened by evasiveness and inconsistent explanations as to the real source and motive of these favors and gifts.
Moreover this administration, supposed to be a paragon of honesty, has appointed to head the COMELEC a person reputed to be one of the handful of most crooked election-fixing lawyers in this country. In one of his first public pronouncements this Chairman of the COMELEC made the unconscionable proposal to purchase the PCOS machines from Smartmatic, for an amount that COMELEC insiders describe as a huge overprice. One would think that when this self-righteous administration came to power, the days of tongpats were over, but obviously this is not the case.
The Administration and the Grave Crime of Manipulating the Electoral System
Arguably the most serious crime of this administration and its enablers is the manipulation—partly consummated, partly ongoing—of electoral institutions and processes. This crime strikes at the heart of the real democracy that the Filipino people aspire for. This administration is deliberately concealing the grave anomalies in the May 2010 elections, to convey the impression that it has an indisputable, massive, or landslide mandate. It is moving to put the COMELEC under its control through the appointment as Chairman or Commissioners of persons who are tainted by corruption or are unsuitable because of partisan connections with the appointing authority.
This administration’s manipulation of the electoral system has prominent elements of disrespect for the rule of law. Take for example its silence and inaction in the face of grave violations of election laws by the COMELEC, pointed out in clear and vehement terms by prominent members of the information and communications technology community and of civil society, and even by some well-known pro-administration figures. The consummated manipulation of the electoral system, in large part perpetrated electronically on a massive scale, with at least the acquiescence of the present administration, is an ethical enormity that dwarfs the evil of the “Hello, Garci” episode, because it allowed and will allow fraud on a gigantic scale and in a manner difficult to detect and even more difficult to rectify by the vast majority of ordinary citizens who are unacquainted with information and communications technology and the nefarious workings of many COMELEC officials.
Moral Corruption and Hypocrisy of the Present Administration
Perhaps the most lamentable fault of this administration, reminiscent of the Pharisees of biblical notoriety, is hypocrisy. This administration has deliberately cultivated a pretended image of personal honesty, integrity, and competence, while concealing much dishonesty, corruption, and incompetence. It has become very much like the whitened sepulchers castigated in the Bible. This concealment is in some cases abetted, in other cases unknowingly aided, by media outlets and practitioners. Some of the latter are complicit in deceit, others are mesmerized by the illusion of virtue projected by the regime, and still others are insufficiently informed.
The Catholic bishops of the Philippines, in a pastoral letter issued last January 30, 2011, rightly condemned “moral corruption,” in the sense of gross disrespect toward authentic human values and Filipino cultural values regarding human life. The present administration, elected on a promise of righteousness, of reform, of putting an end to corruption, is also guilty of a related form of moral corruption, of which hypocrisy is the characteristic feature. This hypocrisy is being acted out by this administration in many ways, including its biased and prejudiced choices of issues and persons to be investigated and prosecuted, on one hand, and to be concealed and protected, on the other hand.
The Present Administration Is Not Delivering on Its Promises
This early in its term, this administration shows clear signs that it cannot deliver on the promise of rooting out corruption and relieving the people of penury and hardship. What this administration is bringing about is mediocre and therefore insufficient aggregate economic growth, deteriorating socio-political conditions, worsening lawlessness, and increased insurgent recruitment and activity.
Under this administration we cannot expect the country to attain economic takeoff toward well-distributed national prosperity. Nor can we expect the country to advance toward attaining our basic securities—such as defense, internal security, food, water, energy--as a nation. Our national life will become even more degraded, for hypocrisy is now added to misgovernment, thus delaying insight and indignation on the part of the citizenry, while more damage is done to our nation. This dangerous trend of events will continue until the time when a critical mass of our citizenry discover that indeed this administration feeds on the social cancer that is draining away the strength and life of our country. God forbid that by that time our citizenry awaken to the harm perpetrated by the incumbent administration, the damage to our country’s viability and prospects for prosperity would be irreversible.
So that Our Nation May Have Abundant Life--Tearing Off the Veil of Hypocrisy and Taking the Road of Sincerity and Truthfulness
As Dr. Jose Rizal did in his own time, let us tear off the veil of this hypocrisy concealing the evils inflicted on our nation, and expose the cancer that gnaws at the vital organs of our society. Let us unite to perform the radical surgery that will excise this social cancer and to begin the restoration of our country’s collective and societal health. It is time that we put an end to the moral corruption of the political establishment. It is time that we inform the public of the real situation of our country and the truth of the public issues being debated in Philippine society today.
Let us accompany our people as they take the road of sincerity and truthfulness, the road that will bring prosperity, health, and education to our nation. Let us rid ourselves of the present death-dealing system, and make our own a kind of politics and governance that works for the common good and therefore gives abundant life to our people . Together let us vigorously promote the honesty, creativity, competence, and perseverance that can instill enthusiasm, discipline, and a strong and deep sense of nation among our people.
For our survival as a nation, for the good of our families and friends, for the future of prosperity and honor that our people deserve, by all means let us end moral corruption by removing the leaders who embody and perpetuate the present system. But more important than that, let us unite to propagate moral virtue by working for a change of system, not just a change of leaders.
Let our united pursuit of justice, truth, and integrity be authentic because we carry out this task comprehensively, and without unwarranted bias and without prejudice. Let us unite in working to carry out thoroughgoing reform not by negative moves rendered harmful by self-aggrandizing grandstanding, but rather by positive and productive moves that while correctly insisting on individual responsibility, nevertheless emphasize institutional and systemic change.
By empowering the marginalized majority of our people, let us help bring about a situation of equal societal power to all citizens. In this way we will carry out a social revolution that will establish and consolidate an authentic democracy—one in which all citizens enjoy formal equality under the law rendered effective for the common good by equality of real societal power.
In sum, let us unite for a Philippines whose people and society are free, prosperous, healthy, educated, and respected in the community of nations.