We live today in an atmosphere of gripping anxiety and uncertainty. The serious problems of the country are getting worse and are spinning out of control.
Graft and corruption are no longer a crime—they are now embedded in our culture. Plunder is now pardonable.
Trading in illegal drugs has become enormously profitable and unstoppable. Most of the dug suppliers are so wealthy and powerful that they just bribe law enforcement agents to remain free and untouchable. Even those imprisoned enjoy luxurious lifestyles and still conduct their business from inside the penitentiary.
As of the last count, the campaign against illegal drugs has cost the lives of over 36,000 drug suspects, some of whom are innocent. Law enforcement agencies have raided laboratories and drug dens which netted millions of kilos of shabu and cocaine, but some of their agents made money by freeing the culprits or recycling some of the drugs they confiscated.
President Rodrigo Duterte admits that he has not gained much headway in his war against illegal drugs.
He appears disappointed that in spite of his best efforts, for which he enjoys a high acceptance and performance rating, the drug trade has become more widespread and pervasive.
What is sad and disturbing is that while our economy is improving, its benefits have not trickled down to the poorest and downtrodden. Which means that whatever modest economic progress we are making, our democratic institutions are more porous, brittle, and vulnerable.
If the haves continue to have more while the have-nots get much less or none at all, another revolutionary situation will arise and bring in disorder, anarchy and chaos. Either the military will take over or the Communist Party and the New People’s Army will be on the saddle. Both will be a disaster.
President Duterte, even with barely a little over two years left of his term, can prevent this tragedy if he manifests his admirable and strong political will to exorcise the ailments tearing apart the fabric of our polity.
What is clearly needed to address this explosive situation is to raise he income of the preponderant majority of the people, erase the income gap between the rich and the poor, unify the Filipino people and make them enjoy a life of dignity and honor.
Thirty percent or over 30-million Filipinos today live below the poverty line, living in abject poverty and perpetual penury. Some are experiencing hunger occasionally. Another 30 percent live just a little above the poverty threshold engaged in subsistence occupations which hardly provide subsistence and whose income is not enough to buy presentable clothing, modest dwellings and other non-food needs.
The middle income sector, comprising another 30 percent of the population, are the most educated, knowledgeable, and are gainfully employed in government and in private business enterprises. They live in relative comfort but are envious of he lifestyle of the rich and well-to-do.
The 10 percent at the top of the totem pole constitute the rich and powerful. They live in palatial mansions, in high-end subdivisions, enjoying luxurious conveniences and expensive pleasures, Fifty Filipino are listed in Forbes magazine as among the richest people in the world.
This gaping disparity or inequality in earnings is what sharpens social differences and class struggles, promotes graft and corruption, and induces lawlessness and criminal behavior.
Most of those in prison come from poor families. They have been forced to commit crimes out of despondency and anger for lack of money to send a child to school. Some are victims of injustices; languishing in jail for failure to hire a lawyer to prove his innocence.
Many take to drugs to ease their anguish and desperation at being too poor.
Some of those in government service or in profitable business occupations become corrupt in their desire to enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and powerful. Many of them are successful professionals, politicians, high officials in government and end celebrities in entertainment and sports.
Since some of the richest persons shun politics, they simply contribute campaign funds to all the candidaes to enjoy immunity from harassment or buttress their connections. While most of them built their fortunes through ingenuity and hard work, some employed chicanery, dubious business practices, and political connections to earn more money and evade their tax obligations.
President Duterte can end economic slavery, raise the income of all sectors, promote national unity, reduce graft and corruption, win in his crusade against illicit drugs and restore peace, civility, and sanity in the country.
Mr. Duerte’s problem is where to get the money to finance the projects he must undertake to realize his noble mission.
The President will have to generate massive employment and livelihood opportunities. Agriculture and tourism would have to be given priority for development as primary economic growth sectors. The salaries of all government officials and employees should be made at par with the salary levels in developed countries to make them less susceptible to graft and corruption. A new constitution must be drafted to strengthen our democratic institutions and to make the country attractive to foreign direct investors. The entire educational curriculum has to be revised to meet the challenges of the radical and rapid advances in science and technology and the digital century.
We don’t need to get loans from China or from international credit institutions. It will just put our country in perpetual penury and debt.
The money can come from the richest families in he country, the titans of business and industry.
President Duterte should challenge and appeal to the richest Filipinos to set aside a fraction of their wealth to finance this revolutionary means to defuse a revolutionary situation.
The collective wealth of the 50 richest families is estimated at about $7.8 billion or P4.4 trillion. If 10 to 20 percent of this vast holdings are employed to address the country’s serious problems, the Philippines will be the richest Asean country and among the most developed in the world.
The donors have no valid reason not to embrace the challenge and to join the government in a noble endeavor.
First, their donation will not be given and entrusted to the government but to a foundation which they will own. The government will just support and provide the incentives or requirements needed for the projects’ smooth implementation.
Second, the donations will be, in fact, an investment since they will promote consumer spending and generate brisk business for the projects of the foundation.
Third, their donations will be their collective insurance from a calamity far worse than an earthquake or a supertyphoon. If a revolution takes place, the most vulnerable and primary victims are the rich people.
Fourth, in funding this economic rescue operation, the most successful businessmen will be manifesting their individual and collective patriotism, compassion and philanthropy.
Fifth, they will be fulfilling their corporate social responsibility and obligations.
This will be the first time that a government will be redistributing opportunities to create wealth, without disturbing the social order.
President Duterte will be enriching his vast political capital and legacy in successfully reinventing Philippine society and reincarnating the nobility of the Filipino people.