With elections a little
over a week away, Filipinos need to take a long and hard look at who they
are choosing to lead them for the next three to six years—for the
Philippines is a country sorely lacking in leadership. For decades we have
been electing celebrities, entertainers, and relatives of past and present
politicians who are totally unfit for public service. They have neither the
training, the experience, nor the intellect needed to properly do the job
voters elected them to do.
If anyone doubts this to be
the case, they only need look at how far down the Philippines has fallen
since it gained independence from the United States in 1946. Back then the
country was a serious player in all of Asia. Philippine business was
world-class; most multinational corporations had their regional offices in
the greater Manila area. Philippine schools were top-notch, and graduated
scores of Filipinos who could make it to the top rungs of Fortune 500
companies. Wages during the Fifties and Sixties were higher than most other
Southeast Asian countries, so much so that a few roads and bridges built
then used less expensive foreign labor. Manila was on the cutting edge of
everything, from modern business practices, to fashion trends, to art and
All that was then; the
golden decades of the Fifties and Sixties are now but a fading memory to
those old enough and lucky enough to still remember. The Philippines today
is without doubt a third-world country. Manila is now a dirty and polluted
back-water city, and young Filipinos migrate to far-flung destinations
settling for low-paying jobs eschewed by local residents of their host
country. Philippine colleges and universities no longer rate globally the
way they used to; even the Philippine stock exchange rarely merits the
occasional mention from financial news broadcasters like Bloomberg and CNBC.
Filipino optimists point to
Fitch and now Standard and Poor’s upgrading of the Philippines to
“investment grade” as a sure-fire sign that the country is on its way to
first-world status. But back in the sixties, we were told that too. And back
then, we were way ahead of most of our Asian neighbors. But something has
gone terribly wrong because the Philippines has stagnated while the rest of
Southeast Asia sped forward.
What happened? We’ve had
bad leaders! Even today most are unqualified; more than a few are outright
thieves. For decades, the Philippines has been run by incompetent
grandstanding amateurs while neighboring countries chose their best and brightest to
lead them. Take a look at the candidates running today. Most are traditional
politicians with no new ideas to promote and a lot of bad habits to perpetuate.
And as long as the electorate continues to see nothing wrong with electing
them into office, the Philippines will continue to be mired in mediocrity.
The sick man of Asia, despite its present jolt of adrenaline will remain an
“also ran” who will never quite make it to the top. Unless Filipinos start
to send a clear message via the ballot box and prevent unqualified
candidates from ever holding public office. Published
What on earth happened to these two women—supposedly handpicked by the president himself to argue on behalf of the Philippine government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—who now seem to be mouthpieces for the Moros? Have Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the negotiating panel become mesmerized by the tough "macho" image the rebels project?
According to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, they have identified the individuals who uploaded the video showing the coldblooded killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy. The cellphone video was purportedly taken by Muslim rebels during the Jan. 25, 2014 encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group. The video shows a wounded Sagonoy who is shot twice in the head at close range.
Twice the Heroes—the SAF 44 Who Lost Lives in Mamasapano
The 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who were brutally killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 are heroes twice over: first, they paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country; second, they exposed for all to see, the dangers the country will face if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed.
No More Bangsamoro, Period!
With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a Bangsamoro is a bad idea. Just as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) spearheaded by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a bad idea (and declared unconstitutional in 2008 by the Supreme Court). Just as the failed Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 1990s was a bad idea.
After the Mamasapano Massacre, Plans for a Bangsamoro Must Be Scrapped
What happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 is a "game changer"—make no mistake about it. Reality as we saw it before this event is not the reality we see now...everything is different; everything has "changed. When the Philippine National Police's (PNP) elite team known as the Special Action Force or SAF set out to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, it had actionable intelligence that the Malaysian fugitive was hiding in the town of Mamasapano. Marwan, an expert bomb maker, is a core member of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
President Aquino Should Fly to Saudi Arabia and Pay His Last Respects to King Abdullah
Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens; from Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Francois Hollande of France, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and many other heads of state from all corners of the globe have gone or are headed to Riyadh to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah. Even U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his state visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia.
After the Pope's Visit: What We Filipinos Now Must Do
We put on a good show for Pope Francis. He loved it; we loved it; the world loved it. Now the long and painful task of bringing about the changes the pope asked for begins. Start with the Philippine Catholic Church. It should refocus its efforts towards the poor. As we wrote in previous editorials, many priests and bishops see themselves as members of the rich and privileged class. They feel more at home in country clubs and dining in expensive restaurants, than they do helping the poor who live in the squatter communities that dot most cities in the Philippines.
Pope Francis Admonishes Pinoys to End Scandalous Inequalities
We had a feeling this was coming. In his first major speech in the Philippines, Pope Francis called for an end to 'scandalous inequalities' in the country. And what better example of a scandalous inequality is there than that a preposterously ridiculous wedding of Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera which was officiated by 8 bishops and 7 priests. In addition, this crass wedding featured a 12-foot high wedding cake, a 2-million-peso wedding gown with an exaggeratedly long train that seemed to go on forever...you get the picture.