Filipinos should be grateful to The New York Times for being instrumental in putting an end to talks around whether or not Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino should seek another term. The news site’s scathing editorial lambasting the President for hinting he would support the amendment of the 1987 Constitution to allow him to run again and to clip the power of the Supreme Court exposed the President’s arrogance to the world. It was obvious the article killed the enthusiasm of Aquino’s rabid supporters in promoting the foolish idea to the public because they have suddenly gone quiet about it.
With the debate over the issue out of the way, everyone can now focus on the real problems facing the nation instead of BS Aquino’s self-serving pursuits. In fact, BS Aquino himself should thank the international publication for helping him make up his mind over the dilemma of whether he should run again or give everyone a break and disappear from politics altogether as soon as he steps down in 2016.
This whole episode also proved that BS Aquino has a tendency to act quite irrational when he wants to get back at those who he perceives to have wronged him. In this case, his target was the Supreme Court because of their ruling against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Some people can be forgiven for thinking the President of the Philippines suffers from tunnel vision.
If there was one party whose power should be clipped, it should be the Executive’s. BS Aquino has abused his position since Day One. Using taxpayers’ money, he allegedly bribed lawmakers using channels such as the pork barrel funds and the DAP to get what he wanted without being questioned about the legality of his decisions. Sadly, he is likely to get away with these offenses because those who have the power to impeach him are the same people who received extra funding from him. This was evident in three impeachment cases against the President that were thrown out by the Justice commission led by his ally Congressman Niel Tupas Jr. Needless to say, the sooner BS Aquino is out of politics, the sooner all this drama will end and the better it is for Filipinos.
Now that Filipinos are discussing who the next Philippine President should be, we can only hope that the voters will be wiser and stop voting for people like BS Aquino whose only credential was having popular parents. At this point though, Vice President Jejomar Binay is still up on the survey results. It’s a real mystery though considering he has been implicated in one corruption scandal after another.
Binay may not have popular parents but he has created a formidable political dynasty after three decades in politics. His children are currently occupying influential positions in the local and national government. His son Jejomar, Jr. (Junjun) is currently the Mayor of Makati City; daughter Mar-len Abigail is a Congresswoman of Makati and his other daughter Nancy is currently a Senator. You would think that Makati City would be as progressive and high-tech as Singapore by now with all of them receiving public funds and channeling these to the same district. Well at least Jun-Jun Binay has an elevator in his mansion in one of the plush gated communities in Manila. Unfortunately, that won’t benefit the majority of Filipinos.
Senator Nancy doesn’t even pretend to hide the conflict of interest when she defends her father during senatorial hearings on the alleged over-priced construction of the Makati City Hall constructed while his father’s was still the Makati City Mayor.
The 2016 Presidential election cannot come soon enough for a lot people including Filipinos who have had enough of BS Aquino’s incompetence and erratic behavior. Likewise, for Presidential hopefuls like VP Binay, the longer he has to wait for the Election Day, the more chances his opponents will have of digging up dirt to throw at him.
VP Binay’s willingness to endure public persecution makes one wonder what’s in it for him? Why does he want to be the President so bad? More importantly, why do some people want him to be the President of the Philippines? Just like the other candidates prior to the 2010 elections and the other candidates for the 2016 elections, Binay is only relying on his popularity instead of his platform.
It is high time Filipinos ask the candidates what they have to offer the public. Voters should ask them what they are going to do once elected into office. Their platform should be the basis for being chosen or not being chosen to lead the nation.
As a guide, the voters should highlight the following issues facing the nation today and ask the candidates how they will solve it:
(1) Traffic congestion on the main roads and highways.
This problem has gone from bad to worse in the last few years. The current government didn’t have a plan to solve this and just allowed the problem to get ugly. The economy suffers huge productivity losses and mounting inefficiency as a result of traffic congestion. Sometimes it comes to a point where vehicles come to a complete stop and commuters are forced to walk.
There are just too many vehicles on the road that are out of control. Private bus operators hire drivers who drive like they are king of the road result in fatalities too. The proliferation of the jeepneys is not only an eyesore, they also add to the chaos on the road. They all add to the nightmare for commuters who just want to go to work.
Since there is hardly any additional new roads or highways, there is a need to find alternative means of mass transport that will bring more people from A to B in one go. That means rehabilitating the Philippine National Railway; upgrading the trains of the MRT and LRT with more carriages to accommodate more people is a must and so is being on top of all the maintenance issues that keep cropping up. Of course there will always be train problems occurring but the administrators of the system should be prepared for such incidence with a spare train. Commuters should not be left without a back-up plan.
(2) Energy Crisis.
The future looks dim for Filipinos. The rotating brownouts Mindanao is experiencing will soon be experienced by Luzon as “the State of the Nation technical report pegged the energy shortage in Luzon at 400 MW to 1,000 MW from March to May 2015.” Suffice to say, those who can afford it should invest in a good generator set.
The current government is even asking for “emergency powers” to address the crisis. They had four years to come up with a solution but it seems they just twiddled their thumbs until the situation had become “urgent” enough to warrant becoming an “emergency”. Their immediate solution is to contract an additional generating capacity to address the 300-megawatt projected deficit. Knowing how the people running government operates, this temporary measure will eventually become permanent.
It is up to the next administrator to find a permanent solution to the energy crisis. Erratic power supply and high electric bills are some of the reasons foreign investors are not coming in droves.
(3) Flood crisis and disaster management.
If the old adage is true that you can judge a person by the way he handles rainy days, then Philippine society can be judged by the way Filipinos have been handling rainy days. Even a little rain can wreak havoc on the roadways because the drains in place are either not enough to handle the storm water or have been clogged up by household trash. The flooding problem has become a frequent crisis that puts ordinary citizens in harm’s way. Like the traffic problem, flooding likewise affects the economy which suffers huge productivity losses and inefficiency as a result.
For a tropical country visited by typhoons at least 20 times a year, our response to typhoons is pathetic and embarrassing to the international community. Filipinos treat every typhoon as if it is the first time they are encountering a typhoon – no emergency evacuation procedure and no acceptable response system in place. We need to step up and be more organized and equipped to face typhoons.
The next administrator should hire engineers to solve this problem. It cannot be solved by a relative who has an AB or BS degree in college.
(4) Lack of Basic Infrastructure.
All of the above can be summed up by lack of basic infrastructure. From Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao, the lack of physical and organizational structures is a common problem. The country needs services and facilities necessary for its economy to function. This includes additional hospitals, schools and telecommunications facilities that will cater to the growing population.
Sadly, the current government’s spending spree did not prioritize the upgrade of services and facilities. It’s unfortunate because investing in those would have been enough to sustain economic growth beyond 2016. No amount of public relations to attract foreign investors will be enough to entice them to come and stay otherwise.
These are some of the issues the candidates should be tackling and what the voters should be demanding to hear. There is enough time between now and the Presidential Election in 2016 for everyone to address this. It would be easier to pick and choose who the next President should be if the voters use the above guidelines instead using the popularity gauge.
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