MAY 2016



Political dynasties galore

…AT least 542 candidates in the May 9 elections are considered sure winners. Not because of superior odds against their opponent—the result of a better program of governance, perhaps, or a more effective grassroots campaign—but simply by default: They are, in fact, running unopposed…

One or two running uncontested as such might be seen as the people acclaiming in advance an overwhelming favorite, but more than 500 across the country tells you something is plain rotten in the state of Philippine politics, with “democratic elections” actually leaving voters no choice but a smorgasbord of preordained—and recycled—faces…

A study by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center has noted that, from 2004 to 2013, the portions of the country lost to the rule of yet another political dynasty have grown at an alarming rate—47 percent in only 10 years…

This is exactly the unhealthy circumstance foreseen in the 1987 Constitution: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

An antidynasty bill has been filed, and consistently rejected, in Congress since 1987. The next president needs to commit to honoring the Constitution, and the Filipino electorate, by getting one finally passed. (PDI Editorial 03/29/12)

Bongbong: Restitution required

YOU need to “move on.”

That, in essence, is what you often hear nowadays from Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as he attempts to rehabilitate his family’s name and bloody legacy by running for vice president. For all the well-documented brutality and heinousness of his late father’s rule—the numbers, the stories, the facts are there, and partisan opinions about them don’t change the cold truth in any way—he refuses to apologize for, nor even acknowledge, the ills of martial law. He has repeatedly trivialized the suffering of the tens of thousands of Filipinos who died, or were maimed, by Ferdinand Marcos’ iron fist, denying the reality of sustained and systematic human-rights abuses during his father’s regime. And with the ill-gotten billions he and his family have inherited, they have waged a cunning, sophisticated campaign to revise history altogether—to minimize the misdeeds of the Marcos era, recast it as a “golden age” and portray themselves, in the richest of ironies, as the ones oppressed.

Leaving the Marcoses unpunished is the mother lode of the virulent strain of impunity that has since afflicted the country. Every crook in government now thinks that if the biggest crooks of them all could get away with it, so could they. The template is fool-proof so far: Wait just a few years, and they’d be the toast of the town again. (PDI 03/01/16)

After all the elections: Still Poor

POVERTY REMAINS the one area that overshadows the economic achievements of the Aquino administration. At the end of a six-year term highlighted by enviable economic growths that began in 2010, more than 26 million Filipinos remain poor. And nearly half or more than 12 million of them live in extreme poverty and without the means to feed themselves…

Contrast this with the few Filipino families who land every year in the Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires (in US dollars) and one can do the math: The benefits of economic growth are not trickling down to where these are most needed, and the cause of which is attributed to various factors, among these, a flawed economic growth model that only makes the rich grow richer; an economy where inefficient economic sectors are protected from competition, which could bring down the cost of goods and services; or a government where corruption is so prevalent even at the barangay level, such that it has adversely affected public service….

The latest survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that in the first semester of last year, 26.3 percent of Filipinos were living below the poverty line (a measure of the minimum income required to meet the basic necessities). This was equivalent to 26.48 million Filipinos, based on the total population of 100.7 million in 2015…

The real poverty figure could in fact be higher if we are to consider the official national food threshold of P7,638 a month–the requirement for a family of five to be able to have three regular meals every day. This threshold is equivalent to P254.60 a day for a family of five, or P50.92 for each member to be able to eat three meals a day. That is P16.97 for each meal…

No wonder candidates seeking the presidency have again highlighted the poverty situation in the country, each promising to uplift the economic conditions of those who are in need most. Sadly, a promise always repeated every election season. What could be different this time? Or put another way, what different, specific programs or measures have those vying for the presidency committed to undertake to really address poverty? (PDI editorial 03/28/16)



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