IT should be obvious by now that the failure of the Philippines to keep pace with the development of such of its neighbors as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and even Indonesia can primarily be attributed to the poor quality of its political leadership.
Some analysts blame the country’s laggard status on its damaged culture, its fraudulent and violence-ridden elections, or on “too much democracy” — even the quality of its human resources. As valid as some or all of these claims may be, rather than the root causes of stagnation and even retrogression, they seem to be mere reflections of Philippine society and governance as these have evolved under the erratic watch of a flawed leadership.
THE phrase is of recent vintage, but the reality behind it isn’t. Like most of the horrors that afflict Filipinos, the culture of impunity, or exemption from punishment so common it has become routine, has been a fact of their lives since the datus betrayed their own people by collaborating with the Spaniards in the conquest of these isles.
In the course of that bloody process and after, entire barangay were put to the torch and their inhabitants to the sword. Not only did those responsible escape punishment; they were also rewarded, and their deeds hailed as part of God’s plan and work.
THE AFTERMATH of disasters in the Philippines is in many ways a media event beyond the disaster itself. But not only is the day after a disaster reported without context; it is also an occasion to celebrate Filipinos’ view of themselves as possessing, among other virtues, those of civic-mindedness and selflessness.
Neither the media, officialdom nor ordinary citizens have tired of declaring, in the aftermath of any disaster, that adversity brings out the best in the Filipino. It’s one of the most enduring clichés in these isles of typhoons, landslides, earthquakes and floods of near-Biblical proportions.
IF Erap can be President, why can’t I be a city councilor, or a mayor—or even a congressman or senator?
No one has done a survey on it. But anecdotal evidence suggests that almost every celebrity in this country—its actors, singers, TV anchors, and at least one boxer—have at one time or another considered running for public office, and what’s more, have made good on that threat.
HE DIDN’T say it in those words during his most recent tirade against the media, but President Aquino had a point: what is a former government official doing reporting and commenting on public affairs, particularly on what’s happening during the administration of the President who replaced in 2010 the President he served as Vice President?
Mr. Aquino was of course referring, although he did not name him, to Noli de Castro, who was in attendance during the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol program. After six years as the Republic’s second highest official, de Castro almost immediately returned to ABS-CBN network, apparently without asking himself when taking his old job back if he could be as fair, honest, and accurate as the ethics of journalism require once he was back as anchor of Magandang Gabi Bayan and other network news and public affairs programs.