Job 1: Apologize to the nation
SENATOR Francis Pangilinan has been named acting president of the Liberal Party replacing former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya until party elections are held.
In a statement following his designation, Pangilinan said his party would continue to criticize the growing number of killings in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war and oppose the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in the heroes’ cemetery.
But, he also said they would “plant, not hatred or ill motives, but hope and policies and programs for the country.”
The senator said being chosen for the position was a big challenge, and he was humbled by the designation.
“I realize the weight of the position and I accept the responsibilities it entails. I am responding to this call to serve the people,” said Pangilinan, while acknowledging that his party was no longer in power.
“We need to work within the current situation to redefine ourselves as a party: How can we as a party work on addressing poverty, joblessness, and the high prices of basic necessities,” he added.
The senator’s sentiments—and his intentions—are clear and would be laudable had it not been for six years of Liberal Party misrule that led us to the state we are in today.
Ironically, Pangilinan’s designation as new Liberal Party president came one day before the nation marked the third anniversary of the Yolanda tragedy in which a super typhoon devastated large swathes of Eastern Visayas and killed more than 7,000 people.
The glacial pace at which the Aquino administration brought aid to the survivors in the immediate aftermath of the killer typhoon has been well documented, as has been the inexcusably slow pace of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the devastated areas.
With a rebuilding target of 205,000 housing units for typhoon victims, the previous administration completed a paltry one percent or 25,000 units in the last three years, leaving thousands of families in makeshift housing in high-risk areas.
In Tacloban, ground zero for “Yolanda” three years ago, only 572 permanent houses have been completed out of the 14,162 that the NHA promised to build.
In the northern villages of Leyte, the NHA is building 8,161 houses, but only 200 are occupied by families from high-risk zones because the units have no permanent water supply or electricity.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo revealed last week that only P30 million was left from the billions in combined government and private donations for the victims of “Yolanda.”
Despite the Aquino administration’s release of P90 billion in “Yolanda” aid last year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is now seeking additional funding for 200,000 people who still need emergency shelter assistance.
Senator Pangilinan need not look farther than his own predecessor, Abaya, for reasons to apologize. Six years of neglect, gross mismanagement and corruption have reduced our public transport system to a form of torture for millions of motorists and commuters.
In fact, it might be argued that were it not for the Liberal Party’s incompetence, selective application of justice, misplaced priorities and supercilious attitude, the Filipino people might not have voted for President Rodrigo Duterte—a dark horse candidate who swept to power on the crest of public disgust over the previous administration and promises of radical change.
In the national effort to overcome our social and economic problems and to bring about genuine peace and prosperity, everyone has a role to play. For those who brought us to these dire straits, however, Job 1 is to apologize to the nation.