Former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) and President Rodrigo Duterte (RRD)? Columnist Boo Chanco compares the two in his PhilSTAR piece “Incoherent” today just for the heck of it. He first issues the tired old critique on Duterte’s form writing how his “streams of consciousness broadcasts” in his national broadcasts “reduce our confidence in government at a time when every effort must be made to increase it.” And then, out of nowhere, Chanco brings up Tabako…
If FVR were president at a time like now with the pandemic, he will make sure he has a calming effect on people. He will be focused on solutions, not cursing and fat-shaming his political enemies.
I didn’t think pandemic response would make a comeback as an election issue but it’s like the ghost of Christmas past. The Delta variant wreaked havoc in India last March, Indonesia recently, and now the US. Americans thought they defeated Covid only for Delta to ruin their party, literally. It was bound to come to our shores eventually as the virus is airborne. It has and our case counts have it at record-high levels. Delta is vaccine-resistant. It has a shorter incubation period, a higher viral load and is more contagious than the original virus. The only logical response is for people to get vaccinated and avoid large gatherings and, when going out, double-mask and observe physical distancing. This is the ideal of course but since this is also the Philippines, we know very well not all will comply.
The Opposition exploded another bomb last week which is the scandal at the Department of Budget Management (DBM) in relation to its purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks and shields. The link is to close aide and Senator Bong Go and the President, naturally. The Senate “investigation” is ongoing. It might even go all the way up to the President they say. Fine. The public has reacted with either skepticism or anger, based on political affiliation. The mud has been flying in both directions since last week. Even the President himself has gone down to the level of the Senators because he is piqued.
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Chanco’s comparison has no basis because Ramos and Duterte were presidents over different periods. FVR is now in his 90s. His last public outing showed his age in his manner of dressing and speech. Incoherent he has also become. Not everybody can be like former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) who is in his 90s but is still in full possession of his mental and intellectual faculties. The pandemic response could’ve been better, of course. We could’ve had better officials. That’s always the case. What should be pointed out is public conduct of government officials. The Presidential Spokesperson studied at the London School of Economics but he’s hardly professional in his demeanor. His gender confusion is not an excuse because there are others like him who conduct themselves with dignity and respect in public. But this is the nature of Philippine politics.
The Opposition claims the moral high ground but they aren’t exactly the epitome of morality. Just look at the personal lives of Leila De Lima and Leni Robredo. Region mates and both prone to the frailties of women of a certain age. When they itch, they can’t resist the urge to scratch it and not with any non-living scratcher either. Good manners and conduct have disappeared as the years have gone by. There is no more sensitivity to the public’s reaction. The public themselves are equally guilty of behaving like Romans at the Colosseum watching gladiators battle it out to the death. It’s political bloodlust. That’s entertainment folks.
If we really want to progress as a country then our level of political maturity should improve. By leaps and bounds. Inday Sara “Daughterte” is well-versed in the art of the terse reply. It gets the message across and hits the intended target, hard. She does not even publicly make a statement preferring infographic instead. Should the target respond, she doesn’t. She leaves it at that. This is how it should be done. Contrast this with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno who has a penchant for blind references. It’s probably excusable since his background is showbiz where blind items are the norm. Still, it shows his lack of gumption or balls. You need to have balls to become President.
An important virtue Chanco fails to consider in his piece is leadership. Surely Tabako has a better educational background than Duterte but his six years in office was relatively a failure. Aside from his dismantling of PLDT’s monopoly on telecommunications, there isn’t much more to crow about. Even the centennial celebrations were clouded by corruption. Nothing ever came out of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program. The Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) went bankrupt during his watch. There wasn’t much infrastructure built. MRT-3’s convoluted ownership was another product of his administration. Power costs went up because of the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). The Ayalas and the Lopezes got the water concession. It ended with a thundering thud because of the Asian financial crisis of 1997. How then can Ramos be better than Duterte? Chanco also forgets that it was Ramos who pushed Duterte to run in 2015. This is another practice we should be rid of; comparisons.
What the Opposition should be focusing on now is what they will offer to the public as an alternative platform of government and not continuing to destabilize the administration which is about to step down. But morons can’t help themselves because they prefer the shortcut rather than the hard work. The “good” versus “evil’ narrative is all played out. It’s time for a new strategy. The Senators should focus on realignment of the budget to make it more beneficial for the public in this time of great need instead of engaging in politicking. There is bound to be backlash in the May polls. Those who are running shouldn’t be surprised when they lose. Like it or not, the administration has achievements which have had an impact on the public. This is what they are up against.
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