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Sugar Coated

Time Magazine, World Bank analysis, tourism blitzes, and other publicity have portrayed the Philippines as a fertile investment ground, a peaceful place to live in, and an exciting tourist destination. I know that every country has its dark side but the socio-political, economic and environmental situations in my poor Philippines are SUGAR-COATED. They say the Philippine peso is getting stronger but the common Filipino cannot feel it. Prices of basic commodities are rising at a relatively fast rate. "Needs" have now become "Wants" - food, clothing and shelter.

Places which have never been flooded before are now underwater when it rains during high tide even if there is no storm. Water seeps into the ground or goes to the sea but if the the grounds are covered by subdivisions and shopping malls, and the canals are blocked by garbage, where will the water go? There is just too many buildings and people around especially in the cities. Our Population Control Program could not stop overpopulation. The Agrarian Reform Program has failed as well, driving people to the cites where "development" is. But many of the city dwellers are either jobless or underemployed. If they have jobs, they can't cope with skyrocketing prices. As a result, many have remained poor and if there is hunger, crime rate is high.

But crime is not just among the poor because the high value crimes are committed among the rich. The biggest issue now is the P10 Billion PORK BARREL SCAM involving a Chinese WOMAN (Janet Lim Napoles) and politicians who have been feeding her with billions of tax payers money since 2006.

Since this pork barrel came into being, the scheme has been like this: The schemer approaches congressmen, senators (or the President thru emissaries), convinces them to come up with "development projects", and offers them his/her fly-by-night foundations as conduit/project proponent.

(Note 1: Each senator has P200M Priority Development Assistance Fund every year. Each Congressman/woman has P70M. The President has ??? Millions of intelligence funds which exempted from audit.)

If a politician jumps on board, a project is whipped up. He/she gets "advance commission". The project fund is then remitted to the foundation but is later diverted to the personal bank account of the schemer. There are other schemes involving public funds but for now, this is the one in the news.

(Note 2: It is very easy to set up a foundation or cooperative in the Philippines. Just fill up the forms signed by 15 incorporators, open a bank account and deposit the minimum paid up funds, and pay the processing fee. Viola!)

Words go around that the late Cory Cojuanco-Aquino, our first WOMAN president and restorer of democracy, also condoned this scheme. Besides being a poor decision-maker (she honored the behest million dollar loans of Marcos and his cronies), she allowed herself to be used by interest groups. Information are surfacing that it was her family, the Conjuancos, who was behind the murder of her husband, Ninoy Aquino. The plot was to execute Ninoy, blame it on Marcos, and put her in power. This is plausible Marcos did not want to kill Ninoy. Marcos and Ninoy were both Upsilonians. They were communicating even when Ninoy was jailed in Camp Crame and in exile in Boston, USA. Upon realizing that he was dying, Marcos wanted Ninoy to succeed him. But the plotters wanted otherwise. So goes history....

"Walls have ears and ceilings have eyes" as one saying goes. There are stories going around that Balsy, the President's sister and he husband is extorting money from investors. The latest is with the Inekon Trams of the Czech Republic. This sad information as well as other realities cannot be slapped on the face of the President Noynoy Aquino because the involved is himself and his family. Not to forget, he is the most powerful person in the country and is surrounded by dangerous people with vested interests.

And so the big question that boggles the sincere and selfless change agents is how to stop the anomalies and correct the dysfunctions in Philippine society? How can we effect positive change without endangering lives? We do not like the Hacienda Luisita massacre to recur.

(Note 3: The 6,435 hectare estate in Tarlac is owned by the Cojuancos which they do not want to distribute among the 10,000 small farmers under the Agrarian Reform Law).

The issues facing us are simply overwhelming! They are weathering our hope for true development and progress to happen. We have illegal drug trafficking, teenage pregnancies, broken marriages, ill-preparedness for the K-12 system, lack of public school teachers and facilities, rogues in robes, criminals in uniforms, arms dealing with the rebels by the military, and graft and corruption in government offices to wrestle.

Moreover, these issues are interconnected and proceeding in a vicious cycle. The only way is to break the links one after the other but at this point, this bold step seems impossible. Wickedness is seen and heard everyday such that for a child, it is normalcy. One unknown radical theoretician said, the only way to eradicate wickedness is GENCOCIDE. Kill everyone 2 years and older so we can have a clean set of citizens. He has a point but of course it is impossible.

Honestly, I do not have an antidote to the poisons in Philippine society. I can just pray, continue to educate my 13-year old son to live according to the Bible, and remind him not to be derailed by the everyday evils that happen. On second thought, if anybody can be a hero for us, why not? But he/she should be a mix of Jose Rizal, Gandhi, Abe Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, Suu Kyi Aung San, and other brave men and women.

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