The problem of this country, as I see it, is that it has no credible opposition. There is no political leader who can inspire right-thinking Filipinos to protest what is happening in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Santa Banana, more than 6,000 have been killed, more than half of them by “unidentified gunmen.” Those killed belong to the lower class of society. And then there are over 1 million drug users who have surrendered. Just how city and municipal jails can accommodate them.
Many of the victims of the war on illegal drugs are said to be collateral damage—and all the President could do is to say sorry. Where is the effort to bring justice to the widows and orphans of those who were killed? There are not even tokens of compensation.
If the President is really sorry for all the unintended victims, there should be an honest effort on the part of the administration to go all-out against vigilante groups who have taken the law into their own hands.
As I said, in the wake of all these, there appears to be no genuine opposition. Filipinos have been so desensitized and apathetic to what is happening. And there is no opposition leader to take up the cudgels for those whose rights are violated. This is a national tragedy!
Sure, there is noise from a minority group, even from some congressmen who claim to be part of the opposition. Two senators have also come out against those killings and human rights violations. But that is because members of the Liberal Party have joined the so-called supermajority for their own agenda.
Even the Catholic Church appears to be useless and powerless—except for a handful of priests and bishops who have openly criticized the practice. We really miss the late Jaime Cardinal Sin who used to rally the Catholic faithful.
The LP, which should normally be the opposition, has also become useless. Vice President Leni Robredo should be leading the opposition, but she does not have what it takes to be an effective leader. We see this in her indifference to her constituents in Naga City when it was struck by Typhoon “Nina.” She chose to go to the United States knowing that Camarines Sur would be along the path of the typhoon. How could she abandon her constituents in their hour of misery?
Robredo said it was unfortunate; she had wanted to return home but could not book a flight. Come on, Leni. Don’t give us that baloney.
Where is the opposition when the country has become a virtual killing field?
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The Russians are already in town and the Duterte administration is now talking about joint oil explorations in the South China Sea. Recall that the President has announced a pivot to China and Russia. Does this pivot mean that he would set aside the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which has ruled in our favor? The President seems more interested in the investments and loans he would get from China.
Duterte’s has in fact displayed antagonism toward Washington. Would this mean less economic and military dependence on the United States? My gulay, our has been a long alliance!
I am no foreign policy expert, but this so-called pivot to China and independent foreign policy threatens to undermine our decades-old alliance with the Americans! The policy may lead the Philippines to danger because only the US could prevent China from “militarizing” the South China Sea. Even now, the only thing we can do is protest; we cannot enforce.
If we were to have an independent foreign policy, why can’t we have an alliance with all nations instead of pivoting to China and Russia alone? It does not make sense.
This is tragic because we worked so hard on that arbitration case. Must we now set it aside just to get on China’s good side?
Joint explorations are something else if they are a government-to-government effort, because then they have to be approved by Congress. Just how this will be done, since all private companies in China are linked to the government is the big question.
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Campaign promises are meant to be broken, so the saying goes. This seems to be happening with the President’s promise to increase by P2,000 the pension of over 2.2 million Social Security System pensioners. He also promised to double the salaries of soldiers and cops.
In the case of the P2,000 SSS pension increase, they claim this cannot be done without impairing the viability of the system, which could go bankrupt in 20 years. The solution would be to increase the contribution of its members. The government is now in a quandary. It does seem that the new officials and board members failed to consider the impact of pension increase.
As for doubling the salary of soldiers and policemen, it is Congress that must approve this move. These are two campaign promises that he failed to make good on last year. He is a big disappointment to soldiers and cops.
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There are two mayors in Metro Manila—Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Makati Mayor Abigail Binay Campos —whom I would like to commend for their string performance in the past six months.
Erap is out to vindicate himself after his ouster in 2001. He just succeeded in returning the streets of the premier city to motorists and pedestrians. He also succeeded in making Manila’s public market safe and secure. The horrible traffic in the city is also a thing of the past.
Binay, on the other hand, has cleared up Makati’s city hall of contractual and casual workers. These did not work, but collected their salaries anyway because the previous administration abused its authority. She also succeeded in returning Makati’s streets to motorists because of illegal parking. And, like her parents who also used to lead the city, Abby has shown great concern for the poor.
In my book, Erap and Abigail are achievers.
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I must say mea culpa. I missed out in my list of performers and achievers in the Cabinet, during the first six months of the Duterte administration, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. He has really made a name for himself.
I am sorry that Secretary Yasay will be replaced by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano in July this year. I wonder whether the latter can outperform the former. He would have big shoes to fill.