by Lizette Fernando

Ever since my husband and I came to Canada about 13 years ago, we have always heard the sad comment from fellow Filipinos, “Wala nang mangyayari sa Pilipinas, wala nang pag-asa yan.” Ito na ang bukambibig ng mga OFWs at mga Filipino immigrants na umalis na sa ating bansa para mamuhay dito sa Canada.

Out of curiosity, I would ask them why they think and feel that way and almost always they would cite these three common threads of sentiment—the deepening poverty, the chaos in civic life, and the corruption in government.

I realized I was not alone. I needed no further explanation from them. I wondered if ever things would get better in our motherland and if ever we could go back home and live in peace and prosperity.

Back in 1986, the Filipinos were on top of the world. Naging mabango tayo sa buong mundo. Riding on the cusp of the victorious People Power revolution, we all thought we were in for a “New Philippines”. Sadly, the exhilaration was short-lived and the Cory magic soon faded.

It has been exactly 30 years since the ouster of the Marcos’ dictatorship; we’ve seen five presidents come and go. And yet?

Millions of Filipinos are still languishing miserably in abject poverty, people still feel unsafe in the streets where rampant crime and violence have become the new normal, where we’ve seen the mass exodus of Philippine labor and talent to work abroad and the “Filipino maid” has become our international trademark, where unbridled corruption in government remains unabated with hoodlums in uniform going scot-free, and criminals in Barong Tagalog are back in power…

How can you solve a problem like the Philippines, I asked?

Someone once said that we get the government we deserve, and we deserve the government we choose. I guess we Filipinos have never learned. Nowhere has it been truer than in the Philippines that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. The “damaged culture” with which James Fallows described our culture has brought on a new twisted meaning since he wrote about it almost 30 years ago. Something indeed is grotesquely wrong with our society.

In less than two months, we have again in our hands a chance to choose our government. And again as usual, politicians are wooing the electorate with their promises, promises. In a culture of patronage “padrino” system propagated by a bizarre mix of mainstream media bias, the Filipinos’ obsession with showbiz glitter and telenovelas, and a proclivity for a surreally short-lived memory, we have reduced what is supposed to be an exercise of our sacred right to suffrage into a zarzuela of cult personality politics.

It is indeed quite a challenge for Juan de la Cruz to go through the process of political decision-making and choose the right government leaders. Yet, if we throw away this opportunity and we elected the wrong leaders, simply because we did not take the time to do our own diligence, ferret out the truth from the lies, sift through the propaganda, then we can only blame ourselves.

But how do we sift through the campaign cacophony and get to the meat of the matter?

How do we sort through the mayhem of misinformation?

Should we allow ourselves again to fall into the same trap of electing the same old trapos?

Can the Filipinos live through another six damned years?

I believe the answer lies in our ability to answer three basic questions:

What are the core problems besetting the country?

What is the purpose of government?

Which candidates fit the mandate for government and can lead the country to solve its problems?


Core problems

Remember when we were in grade school? We were taught the good ‘ole problem-solving method, that is, to solve a problem, we first need to identify and define the problem. So when Filipinos ask themselves, “Who among the candidates can effectively address our major problems?” we need to ask ourselves, what are the country’s problems?

Let’s look at the top 5 long-standing problems that the Philippines is beset with:

Corruption

Poverty

Criminality and Drug Proliferation

Lack of Good Governance, Political Will and Vision

Overpopulation

No one can argue that the above are interlinked and that these have also bred and impacted many of the other problems that have kept the country in the dirt hole for way too long: unemployment and brain drain; poor delivery of basic services (health, education, crisis and disaster management, roads and infrastructure, etc.); business monopolies; traffic, floods and lack of urban planning; the rotten justice system; low government workers’ pay; child labor and exploitation; prostitution; pollution and environmental degradation; terrorism, and the list goes on…

Purpose of Government

On the second question, what is the purpose of Government? I am not a lawyer by profession but look it up. In our constitution and the constitutions of thriving democracies around the world and throughout generations of democracies, a common thread resounds: there are at least four fundamental purposes of government:

to establish Justice,

to ensure domestic Peace and Social Order,

to provide Security,

and to promote the general welfare and act on behalf of the good of all people.

Let me stay here for a bit because this will help clarify for us what kind of President needs to sit in Malacanang beginning in just a few weeks:

Firstly, Government exists to promote and execute Justice—to punish evildoers and to protect those who do right. Though the state will never be the remedy of evil, government officials should be the restrainer of evil.

Government should: one, instill fear for evil doing; two, encourage order by upholding the rule of law; and three, seek retribution for evil and never turn a blind eye to evil.

When citizens have been wronged, civil authorities should be able to dispense justice in various ways: people are to receive goods, opportunities and attention from government with equality or fairness (economic justice);

Government should use a fair process in deciding what is to be distributed (procedural justice);

Government should be able to restore things as they were before the wrongdoing or put things back as they should be (corrective justice);

and, wrong-doers should be punished not only to deter evil but to satisfy the victims of injustice (retributive justice).

Secondly, in our constitution’s Declaration of Principles is: “the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property … are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”

It is clear: where Government does not fulfill its mandate or where government is so weak that it cannot enforce its laws, there is chaos. And where there is chaos, those who do evil can make up their own laws and morality.

“When those moralities come into conflict, as they inevitable will, then the majority or the most powerful will oppress the minority and weak, eventually leading to anarchy and the destruction of civilization”

Thirdly, Government is charged with providing security to its citizens, to protect them from harm by either internal threats and disorder or by foreign enemies. The protection of innocent human life is at the core of this mandate.

Fourthly, Government is obliged to promote the common good for each one regardless of his class in society. A just government will treat all citizens equally, regardless of gender, age, status, belief or background.

It is not right for government officials to show favoritism and provide money, services and attention to special interest groups only. Officials must govern in such a way that the weak and vulnerable, the poor, the defenseless, the elderly, the unborn—those who have no power or wealth to benefit the authorities—are given equal treatment.

The Right Candidate

That brings us to the third and critical question, “Which Candidates fit the mandate for government and can effectively lead us to solve the country’s major problems?

Let’s go through each of the tandems:

Miriam-Bongbong?

Although Miriam has branded herself as a no-nonsense, no-holds barred lawmaker, she has serious personal health issues to face. The stressors of the campaign have already taken a toll on her; how much more six years of dealing with the country’s headaches? I believe the noblest thing for her to do at this point is to make a graceful exit from the race and support the candidate she believes in.

Bongbong Marcos??

This is a no-brainer for me. No thinking Filipino who is not stricken with amnesia will even begin to imagine the former dictator’s son back in Malacanang. For me, one thing is clear: someone who is not willing and able to admit and correct the wrongdoings of which he was a part cannot be considered worthy of being a dispenser of justice. The nation will never be able to move on with a Marcos back in Malacanang.

Binay-Honasan?

This is again a no-brainer. Only those who are unaware of the plunder cases against Binay and his dynasty rigged with corruption charges would consider this team.

Honasan? Why would someone align himself with and support a well-known corrupt official in the first place?

Besides, I don’t think Gringo has redeemed his rebellious past and his reputation for having been the mastermind of a string of attempts to overthrow government–coup (1986-1989), power siege (2001), mutiny (2003). With his influence in the military, my concern is that it would not be difficult a morally bankrupt establishment to even become entrenched if this tandem gains power.

Grace-Chiz?

I know the Supreme Court’s questionable “majority” ruling in Poe’s favor is a topic for another day but I hope the best legal minds of the country do not abandon this trail. That said, six years with former president Cory Aquino only proved to the Filipinos and the whole world that our nation can no longer gamble her future with someone who has unproven competence and no track record of governance whatsoever.

We all know that the only things Poe can fall back on are her famous showbiz last name and a few years in the Senate and the MTRCB. Is that enough??

Can Grace Poe handle the post of President and Commander-in-Chief of one of the most corrupt countries and one of the most rambunctious democracies in the world?

For me, this is a resounding no-brainer NO! Gusto mo naman bang bumalik sa mga sunud-sunud na mga coup d’etat nang dahil ang nasa Malacanang ay isang walang alam at karanasan anuman sa pagpapalakad ng isang pamahalaan?

O kaya, naptunayan na hindi pala sya tunay na Pilipino?

Eventually, she would become a puppet president beholden to the masters who finance her campaign. This is too huge a risk to take.

As for Chiz, I’m afraid I haven’t really found accomplishments VP-noteworthy from his records as a Congressman and Senator. No sterling material in his many years as a lawmaker to impress me. To say the least, being a lawmaker does not necessarily translate into effective hands-on governance.

Mar-Leni?

Mar Roxas who is the Administration’s candidate has had a considerable length of government service, a Wharton degree to boot and appears to exude a seemingly presidential aura brought about by his political pedigree. Actually, from the last two presidential debates, I find him to be the best-looking guy on the debate stage– intellectual-looking, prim-and-proper and every hair in place.

However, there is only one reason why I cannot vote for Mar Roxas, and that is, napatunayan niya na HINDI NYA KAYA ang maging Presidente. Mar has been in high government positions for several years—as Congressman, Senator, the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Transportation and Communication, the Department of Interior and Local Government. He has had his chances time and time again. Pero ano ang nagawa nya?

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”(Luke 16:10)

I do not need to elaborate here the numerous cases of his failed leadership. Unfortunately, despite the opportunities for good governance he has been given, Mar has proven to be not just a lackluster official but also presented some grave epic failures and highly questionable alliances while in power. Although already much talked about, and at the risk of being redundant, they are too serious to not mention here:

Typhoon Yolanda was a natural calamity whose winds ravaged for less than 24 hours however the tragic failure of the government’s response still lingers to this day more than two years have passed.

Who would politicize a life-and-death situation during the biggest typhoon to hit land:

“Remember you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino?” “If we cannot legalize [the turnover of authority to the national government], you’ll be in charge, we’ll help you, and that’s it, pero bahala na kayo sa buhay niyo.”

What kind of thinking would require a letter of request for help so as to “legalize” assistance from the national government when dead bodies litter the streets, the city is being looted, the survivors are left with no water, no food and there is nothing but massive devastation all around?

As per reports, at least 73 BILLION PESOS in total donations have poured in for the victims of the Haiyan typhoon and additional several billions pledged. And yet where did it go??

Do they have an answer?? It’s been more than two years and have they rehabilitated the devastation in Leyte-Samar-Bohol??

The UN and other international governments and organizations called out the Philippine government amidst corruption concerns and slow government response!

Inadequate rebuilding , substandard materials used, the food donations were left to rot and distributed to the victims in their rotten stage, and now the typhoon victims are rebuilding on their own.

Imagine if Typhoon Yolanda had happened to your own cities and towns, would you have wanted this kind of leader to be your First Responder?

The Philippines is well-known to be a country prone to calamities and natural disasters. Heaven forbid that a yolandific disaster or earthquake would happen on a national scale and you have Mar as the President.

Tanim-Bala airport scam.

CNN reported 30 cases of tanim-bala cases at the NAIA in 2015 alone with 5 cases in the two weeks the airport extortion scam became an international embarrassment. Although Mar is not personally linked to tanim-bala, he could have risen to the occasion and at the very least, used it to bolster his image.

Sad to say, he didn’t see the opportunity for a shining moment. Instead of scoring full government responsibility for an airport scam that had been reportedly going on for quite a while, how did he react?

I would have hoped for a response with more conviction than this: “Kung nagpasok ka ng contraband sa airport, paano naging problema ng gobyerno ’yun?”

The Mamasapano massacre.

What was supposed to be a government operation to capture wanted Islamic terrorists became a botched job resulting in what is considered the biggest loss of government elite force in history.

It is hard to believe how a critical police operation be kept from the top honcho of the DILG to whom the Philippine National Police has direct accountability?

Mar’s last text message to Napenas on the day of the massacre reportedly was sent at 7:12 p.m. “Keep calm and keep ur head. ‘Di natin pababayaan tropa natin. PNoy gave guidance to AFP Westmincom.”

However, the 44 SAF soldiers had been reportedly massacred several hours earlier by then. I’m not going to comment further as we await the investigations to complete.

However, when you say, “Masasabi lang namin kung anong alam namin. We were cut out. Ano ma-re-report namin?”, doesn’t that bespeak volumes of the President’s level of confidence in you?

Why did Mar not know about it at the time that he should have known about it, given that the operation was being carried out by his very own men?” … We have many questions and they are not going away yet.

MRT Mess.

Accidents, derailment, dislocation and breakdowns in the MRT are not an out of the ordinary occurrence. Matagal na at hindi na bago ang problema ng MRT.

Unfortunately, Manila’s unreliable, inefficient and unsafe public transport system has become the new normal.

And the explanations? “Human error”, “inaaksyonan namin ito”, “ang mga tren ay hindi nabibili sa grocery na basta-basta” “hindi ito pag-aari ng gobyerno”, “may be sabotage”, “there’s no lapse in maintenance”….

Why would DOTC award the maintenance of an aging MRT “to a small brand new company only two months old, and had a subscribed capitalization of only P2.5 million, or equivalent to only a 120th part of the P300 million cost of the MRT-3 maintenance contract it was given?”

Is it because “one of its six investors was known in Pangasinan province as a Liberal Party financial supporter”? MRT chief blames the DOTC secretary. The DOTC Secretary says the mess had its origins in the time of his predecessor who was Mar Roxas.

Mar in turn then says, “I’m not exactly clear of what happened after I had left but ang masasabi ko, it was Sumitomo who was the service provider. Iyon ang nadatnan ko at patuloy na kino-continue lang ‘yon noong nandoon ako.”

It’s amazing that these civil authorities resort to scapegoating, blame and defending themselves. Gross negligence and inaction? Incompetence? Plain old corruption?

Or all of them. Whatever it is, for now, commuters will just have to put up with this until the Tuwad na Daan straightens up.

Dubious alliances.

Recall Mar’s words when he denied using government funds for his campaign. Okay, granted that Mar is using his own money for his campaign ads and machinery reportedly amounting to at least P774 Million But what do you make of Mar’s close relationships with campaign supporters billionaire and mining magnate Eric Gutierrez and his partner Congressman Edgar Erice with affiliation in mining interests in Agusan.

The mining companies were sanctioned by the DENR and the Supreme Court for environmental violations.

Would Mar please answer the question if he is not a stockholder in several mining companies?

More questions keep rolling: The sanctions were made back in 2006 and what was the penalty paid for years of environmental rape from 2007-2014?

Only P7M??? (considering P26 Billion was reportedly the worth of their single shipment of ore to China)?

Aren’t the mining companies still in operation? What has been the government response to this? How come those charged with plunder, illegal activities and the rape of our environment are back in business as usual?

What do they get in return for environmental rape—this??

The Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Awards???

“These companies–namely…. SR Metals … have performed well in protecting the environment, keeping their operations safe, and helping the communities in which they operate. Your companies are embodiments of our belief that inclusive growth is the most potent philosophy—both in business and governance.”

Is this the Daang Matuwid?

It doesn’t take long to put two and two together and figure out this story. If you follow this trail closely, you will know that the path ends in the same ‘ole, same ‘ole corrupt patronage politics.

And what do you make of Mar-Leni’s support by and praise for–Pampanga’s powerful Pineda political dynasty?

Bong and Lilia Pineda—aren’t they notoriously known as the Jueteng Lord Kingmakers from the days of Erap and Gloria?And Leni? Enough said of Tuwid na Daan.

All I can say is that someone who believes that the Tuwad na Daan has been a success for the last six years and needs to be continued for another six more years will surely be ruined together with its shattered promises.

By process of elimination, only the Duterte-Cayetano tandem is left standing. Does Duterte’s platform and track record stand the four-fold purpose of Government?

If we follow this rubric, I have to say, yes, Duterte-Cayetano does come closest to passing the test.

Duterte-Cayetano – Let me start with Alan Cayetano.

Though a neophyte compared to his tradpole-counterparts, I trust Cayetano to be Duterte’s running mate in much the same way that Duterte is confident he will not backstab Duterte and he will continue with his platform of governance. So if only for that reason, it is going to be no less than Cayetano.

Now on to Duterte…

let me start off by saying, I do not totally agree with Duterte’s views on a number of things. I am not amused with his checkered personal past and private life.

And I am not even fond of the way he has carried himself in public: I would suggest he be more mindful especially in front of media about his choice of words, his careless behaviors around his women supporters–if he does not want to alienate chunks of voters especially those who don’t have the time to investigate into the issues and merely rely on social media memes and sound bites.

However, Duterte’s track record of how he transformed the killing fields of Davao City of the 1980s to what it is now cannot be disproven.

There is no dearth of reports and testimonies from Davaoenos of how Duterte successfully reversed Davao’s breeding ground for criminals, communist guerillas and extremist groups into a peaceful, organized and economically thriving city.

He has restored peace and order to Davao City, enforcing the rule of law enforcing and landmark legislation (anti-smoking, firecracker ban, speed limit, etc.).

Once the nation’s murder capital, Davao City has been cited as one of the top 10 safest cities in the world.

He has promoted the general welfare of his constituents especially the children and youth, women, the poor, indigenous minorities, implementing various programs, projects and services for child protection, rehabilitation and livelihood for drug dependents and inmates, HIV prevention, public employment, literacy, etc.

Davao City has been cited several times for its progress and excellence in tourism, business commerce, environment, media and fiscal management.

Can Duterte lead the country in solving the nations’ problems? I think he can.

How can I say this? Because he has been there, done that.

I refer you to this video which summarizes Duterte’s one and only exhibit, Davao City: “Rodrigo Duterte Legacy”

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:


SHARE IF YOU CARE!

Extra-judicial killings

Duterte has been attacked for alleged “extra-judicial killings”. Etta Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights slammed Duterte on this and led an investigation into Duterte’s involvement in the “Davao Death Squad”.

However, when CHR came up with the resolution report, Rosales could not for sure establish Duterte’s direct link to DDS. Former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last year had announced that the NBI was building up the case with the testimony of their witness, a “confessed hit-man” linking Duterte to 1,000 killings.

But what came out of it?? The nation would have appreciated it more if they produced something out of it instead of barking and yakyakking. So, my only question is, how come the current Administration with all their powers and influence has not pursued this then and now?

Napakulong na nila si Gloria Arroyo, Jinggoy, si Bong Revilla, si Enrile—why haven’t they done so with Duterte?

I wish instead of barking and barking, they really dug their teeth into it. De Lima has since left the DOJ and is now running for Senator and the last time, I checked Etta Rosales has been reported to have “left the CHR quietly.”

What is True Righteousness?

I am a Christian and I am not shy to say it.

However, I’ve been criticized from including by many Christians for the stance that I have taken.

They are shocked to know why I have taken this position when I am a Christian, that is, why I am rooting for an “evil man”, “immoral man” from the “kingdom of darkness”.

I’ve been called “deceived”, “part of the end-times’ deception” and “out of my mind” among other things.

I’ve tried to engage them in an open discussion to explain why I am voting “a proud and arrogant man with no fear of the Lord”. I’ve done my own due diligence by presenting documented information to ensure a healthy and informed discussion.

But what have I been met with?

Either emotional responses and personal tirades or dead silence. Responses range from “Stop such distorted thinking” to “There’s nothing to talk about because we have two different bases and you’re not using the Word of God.” End of conversation.

How engaging is that?

I’ve also tried to cross-examine their own arguments and I’ve heard this more than once: “That’s your own view. This is mine and I’m entitled to my own opinion”. You can insist to eternity that you would like to have unicorns for pets or there are round squares and no one will stop you from saying what you want.

However, if you mean by being “entitled to your opinion” means your views are entitled to be treated seriously, I’ve got a problem with that. If you say that one can decide who should be our next President from their statistics-citing performances in two-hour debates, I certainly have a problem with that.

I have been in the Human Resources field long enough to know that a two-hour job interview is not an accurate indicator for employee success or a nice interview presentation predicts a star employee.

On a similar note, would you subject yourself for a heart operation to a decent-looking and friendly surgeon whose previous botched surgeries sent his patients to coma rather than to a cussing surgeon who has treated patients back to life and wellness?

If burst toilet pipes are back flowing with sewage water and flooding your entire house, would you hire a nice-looking plumber because he is mild-mannered and polite but doesn’t even know how to use a pipe wrench and fix leaky faucets, OVER a foul-mouthed, dirty-looking plumber who has had proven experience in sewage clean up, extraction, disinfection and restoration?

Mga kababayan, is the job awaiting the next President of the Republic of the Philippines: to clean up the dirtiest sewers of government clogged and contaminated with the filth of corruption and criminality.

So to those who are shocked with my “deceived” and “out of my mind” position, let me address your issues.

Let us remember that, “the state’s most fundamental role is to protect citizens from the sinful conduct of their neighbors.”

“The one in authority is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3-7).

“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless. Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy. Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:2–4). See also 1 Peter 2:13–14.

Government also should ensure peace and order “that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Government is charged with providing security to its citizens. And why should Government should be concerned about the vulnerable ones?

It is because God is concerned about and identifies with the powerless–God is the “father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:4-5).

“This is one of the main things He does in the world. He takes up their cause.”

Now, I’m not questioning my critics’ Christianity. And I am not implying that all Christians think that way. What I have a problem with is this mindset that refuses to come to a well-informed voting decision.

One thing is certain, God is not schizophrenic where He will tell one child of His to vote for one candidate and tell another child to vote for another candidate.

Therefore, shouldn’t it now be a matter of public discourse—a civil discussion without our having to lose our capacity to listen, to evaluate opposing arguments, to engage on the level of rationale ideas?

They say that Duterte is not “presidentiable” because he is a “womanizer”, “adulterous”, a “cusser” and “unrighteous”.

Please don’t get me wrong–I am no defender of these behaviors. For indeed, righteousness does mean being faithful to one’s wife, purity in thought, words and action, upholding morality, etc.

However, we tend to think of righteousness only in terms of personal morality, sexual chastity, honesty, diligence in prayer, charity, etc. Righteousness is not just these.

God is called a God of Righteousness. If we looked it up in the Bible, the Hebrew word for “righteousness” is “tzedek” or “tzadeqah” which means “justice”. Tsedeq refers to how a person conducts all his relationships with fairness, generosity and equity.

Also, in the Bible, “tzedeq” is frequently used together with the word “mishpat” which means “judgment”, “verdict” or “legal decision” in a judicial process.

After receiving the 10 Commandments, Moses gave the following charge to the judges of Israel:

“Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge (mishpat) justly (tsedeq), whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien.” (Deut. 1:16).

Thus, if Duterte’s record in public service has been marked with “punishing wrongdoers and caring for the victims of unjust treatment, prosecuting and holding into account those who rob and batter the weak in society and those who prey on and exploit the poor with dishonest and exploitive practices”, then, he comes closest to the “righteousness” and “justice” that the Bible primarily talks about.

And that, my fellow countrymen, is why I am voting Duterte-Cayetano.

P.S. Kapag ang Pilipinas ay magmumukhang Davao City na, pwede na kami sigurong umuwi ng matiwasay sa bayan naming sinilangan.

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