Friday, June 20, 2014

Political Will

       I laud the effort of the government and the private sector to clean up the “esteros” or waterways of Metro Manila including the Pasig River. This is not an easy task considering the manpower and logistics requirement of the project. But the most important part of this clean up drive is the relocation of squatters along the waterways. It is the squatters along these waterways who throw their garbage and dirt such that any clean up drive would be futile if they are allowed to stay. I know there are laws about the construction of residential structures near the waterways to ensure accessibility, flood control, sanitation and safety of the people residing in the area. Maintenance of these waterways is part of the Urban plan. The question is why did the government allowed these squatters to start living in these critical areas? There should have been a strong effort in the part of the administration to clear up the initial squatters so other squatters who plan to construct houses along the waterways would have been discouraged. Allowing them could not have been for humanitarian purposes because the squatters are in danger of being washed out by floods. Could it be that the government officials are too busy implementing “priority” projects that they have overlooked the importance of clearing squatters along the waterways from the start? Were the squatters allowed because the politicians are aware that these squatters could also be used for political means because they can easily be swayed and manipulated during elections, rallies and “other” purposes? The laws are in place but it seems that the government lacks the political will to properly implement these enacted laws. If only city / municipal ordinances and policies are strictly executed consistently for many years, this mess could have been avoided. The people sense these laxity in implementing rules and penalties such that they easily become violators themselves. Other people imitate the wrong practices until it becomes habitual. Why are Filipinos working abroad don’t throw their garbage anywhere? It is because they avoid being fined by the authorities who implement the laws strictly and they have seen that it has been the norm of the people to properly dispose of their garbage.

     It needs political will to get rid of the malpractices such as: “kumpadre” system, “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine”, “It is whom you know and not what you know”, “Kotong”, “extortion”, “any kind of fixing in government agencies”, “orchestrated corruption in government agencies” and so on. It needs unblemished integrity and rock solid commitment with unwavering passion on the part of the president and his cabinet members and their staff to reshape the values believed by the people as reflected by the current system. This is a big task but not impossible to achieve as shown by the on-going trial on the PDAF scam which is an example of the small steps taken by the government leading to this purpose. But this effort will again be hampered by the change of administration in 2016. This is a wait and see situation on who will win the election. If in case the candidate of the opposition wins then another set of priorities will be formulated and scrapping of projects or initiatives started by the past administration is expected. Even if the candidate of the present administration wins, we cannot be sure if he will continue what has been started. How many years have passed by since the formation of the first commonwealth and it seems that our system is still running in circles. The poor remains poor and their number is increasing, health care is still struggling, the educational system especially in elementary and high school are still DDUs (Depressed, Deprived and Underserved), college education is almost only for the moneyed, jobs are not sufficient to accommodate new graduates, general services needs improvement. Priority on these areas is not so much compared to projects on priority areas such as: construction of big national and provincial roads, mining, logging, airports, piers, commercial buildings, communication facilities, factories, condominiums, malls and hotels. All of these priority projects are geared towards enhancing or supporting the economy which suits the needs of the multi-nationals and local businessmen. A positive increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an indication of “good weather” for investors. Businessmen amash big profits while only small amounts of the fruits of economic development trickle down to the masses.

     A system whether it is political or economic will continue to survive if all its components are properly maintained. Sectors that are not well taken care of will reach a critical level sooner or later and God forbids that the equilibrium will be breached.


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