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Voting Wisely Is So Important for the Philippines

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—Scenes from elections past. Ballot boxes piled high curbsidefor 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 architecture.

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 5/3/2013


RECENT EDITORIALS

With Negotiators Like These on Our Team, Who Needs an Opposing Side?

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? Published 2/27/2015


Why is the NBI Going After Those Who Uploaded the Sagonoy Video?

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. Published 2/21/2015
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. Published 2/15/2015
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. Published 2/8/2015
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. Published 1/31/2015
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. Published 1/27/2015
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. Published 1/22/2015
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. Published 1/16/2015

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