In many instances in our history, we appear to have stayed in place rather than having moved forward. In some cases, we even slid back, I believe. As one theory goes, doing the same thing over and over for 30 years doesn’t necessarily give one 30-year experience. It could very well just be one-year experience done 30 times. No more, no less. No growth, and not moving on.
Last Sunday, we celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA Revolt of 1986.
But given the present state of our politics, it doesn’t seem like we have made many significant improvements since that fateful and historic February, when the nation kicked out an overstaying leader who ruled for 21 years. Are we truly better off now? Are we living in a better country?
To date, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) — the government agency tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth from the ousted leader, his family, and their allies — continues to exist, its work far from done despite over 30 years passing. Meantime, the ousted leader’s children are back in politics, with his son and namesake having gunned for the second highest position in the land in 2016.
The ousted leader has in fact received a hero’s burial in the national heroes’ cemetery not too long ago, decades after his death, and after five governments.
With this, his heirs all appear to have actually moved on, but the government and PCGG have not. Rumor is, his eldest daughter will run for the Senate in 2019, while his son will continue to pursue his vice-presidential electoral protest in the hope of actually winning it.
And after 32 years, we now have no less than a senior public official seemingly insinuating that the 1986 event was just a figment of our imagination, by questioning online if the EDSA Revolt was just the result of “fake news.” I am uncertain as to what she meant by this, but I believe it to be highly inappropriate for a public official like her to be questioning historical facts without basis, and to be unnecessarily sowing political intrigue.
Meantime, the House Committee on Justice has just terminated its hearings on impeachment complaints against another Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The magistrate in question has reportedly gone on a 15-day leave, while the Senate has started to order judicial robes, all in anticipation of an impeachment trial by senators in the near future.
Again, the nation is about to get distracted by a new telenovela, a new saga, about to unfold, with the public once again about to be glued to radio and television as well as online and print news services. Social media will likely be abuzz as well — if and when the impeachment trial proceeds, the third for the country and the second against a chief justice.
Impeachment, like in the case of Joseph Estrada as president, and the late Renato Corona as chief justice, is more a political rather than a legal process, in my opinion.
While its mechanics are provided for by law, as with many other things, to impeach is a political rather a legal initiative, with people in Congress making a political rather than a legal or judicial decision.
One can only hope that the trial can get done quickly, to allow all concerned to move on to what I believe to be more important national concerns. South Africa is about to run out of potable water, and the same thing might just happen here as our own Angat Dam is about to reach critical levels. Between impeaching the Chief Justice and fixing our water problem, which should public officials prioritize?
Our traffic congestion problem particularly in Metro Manila has reached epic proportions, resulting in P2-3 billion in economic losses daily, or in an annual basis, an amount equivalent to perhaps a fourth of the entire national budget. And yet, our only mass transit system on the metropolis’ main thoroughfare is operating at perhaps 25% of capacity. What are we doing about this?
People, particularly car owners, and vehicle license holders, are still waiting for license plates and license cards that have long been paid for, and yet, supplies don’t seem to be forthcoming. What is the government doing about this? As if grappling with rising consumer prices is not enough of a concern for most of us.
We need more government people spending more time putting on thinking caps and helping figure out how we can solve our long-term problems. And fewer public officials interested more in politics and sowing intrigue rather actually helping people.
Sadly, in the last 32 years, we always let politics get in the way: the December 1989 coup, the Estrada impeachment, the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines standoff, two vice-presidential electoral protests, the Corona impeachment, Janet Napoles and the pork barrel scandal, among others.
Congress’ time has been spent on investigation after investigation, Mamasapano and Dengvaxia included — all with the aim of improving our politics, and making our country a better place for Filipinos to live in. But, have we actually succeeded in doing that? Or, have we just allowed our politicians to further weaken our democratic institutions? Are we really better off now, politically than 32 years ago? Or maybe 60 years ago? Enough of us have been alive since the post-war years, and I am sure some of us will have strong opinions about this.
We all want an end to any saga, any ongoing story, any telenovela. Wakasan, as the old comic strips used to say. Enough with the abangan and susunod. Out with the old, in with the new. Our politics need to change.
In many things, it is truly time for us to move on, as a people, as a nation. To Heaven or to Hell, it makes no difference, I say. As long as we don’t stay in Purgatory for eternity.
We need to minimize distractions that take us away from more important, more urgent, more critical concerns. We need to quickly step up our game, our politics, and by doing so perhaps the country, the economy can also begin to step up. We need to get things done, and fast, and then move on.
Marvin A. Tort is a former managing editor of BusinessWorld, and a former chairman of the Philippines Press Council.