HOURS before the presidential address, the internet was abuzz with speculation about the reason for the special occasion. I went to AM radio 30 minutes before and had a few hearty chuckles listening to the commentators. There is still nothing like Filipino wit and humor delivered AM radio style that cannot be captured by internet memes.
In between guffaws, the hosts actually raised sharp and valid points. It was the first time that Pnoy would be preempting live broadcast on TV and radio to deliver an important message to the nation. What important reason could be behind this momentous occasion? Nary a squeak was heard from him after the national tragedies that came one after another – the Zamboanga crisis, and just recently the Cebu and Bohol earthquake. All we had were inept and stage-managed posturings to convey that he is on top of the situation when the reality on the ground proved otherwise.
Maybe it was about his love life once again, the hosts opined while barely keeping their chuckles in check. Then at 7:45 p.m., the broadcast commenced. Though stuttering like a schoolboy with a crush, Pnoy made the message clear.
It was about his lovelife alright. But it is a different kind of love for also a different kind of object that he revealed. Bordering on a lustful obsession for pork in the face of mounting protests that cannot be quelled, there he was defending the DAP, his own pork barrel amounting to the billions of pesos under his discretion.
The savings that significantly come from the millions of government workers enduring the contractual system and who are now JOs or job order employees with no benefits and security of tenure, are pooled into Malacañang coffers under the DAP to be disbursed according to his liking with virtually no oversight review. The budget cuts in education and health undertaken in the name of austerity are funneled to his pork barrel leading to more Kristel Tejada cases and indigent patients dying on the streets just so he could reward his political allies in the Senate and Congress.
Then he declares that he is not a thief. But his own neoliberal policies have taken away decent jobs and state-funded education and healthcare in a continuing program of jobless growth. But what ultimately leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that while he pronounces his adherence to the straight and narrow road, he cannot let go of an elite political culture that depends on political largesse to survive. What can we expect after all from the scion of Hacienda Luisita?
What is it with our landed elite that makes them think that governance and the power and resources that come with it are their birthrights? When cause-oriented groups put them to task for taking liberty with the people’s money, Pnoy goes on national radio and television to complain.
It is no secret that our president is a brat. Many government officials who served at his pleasure have been booted out because they have brought him personal displeasure. But to see him display this trait before us, the Filipino people, for giving him a legitimate and sustained challenge to his style of patronage and elite leadership reveal to us that this brat misses the point.
What is ultimate being raised as an issue, separate from the persecution of the guilty Senators and Congressman who have dipped their hands into public coffers for their private enrichment, is the corrupt political culture that the pork barrel system makes possible. His failure to abolish all pork only bolsters the people's suspicion that what is being staged before us in the persecution of his political enemies is a maneuver in preparation for the 2016 elections for his camp.
Obviously, he is riled by the term Pork Barrel King. But given his actions and pronouncements in the past few months in the midst of the rage of a conscientious and militant citizenry, especially with his recent infamous speech, he wins the title without a doubt.
I have a feeling that what occurred last night was Pnoy’s true character exposed. Revealed beyond the rhetoric of the tuwid na daan and his self-image as a corrupt-busting Chief Executive, is the real president of our country - a leader with so much sense of political entitlement and hubris yet cannot wrest himself away from the one thing that can prove that he is beyond his class origins as a scion of the landed elite - patronage politics.
While I await the next big mass action, while watching the fire of social discontent spread with his speech dousing the flames like gasoline, there will be a song that will be playing in my head for the next few weeks. The Ramones captures the spirit of the times and I can’t help but express my rage with their song. “Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, with a baseball bat…Oh yeah!”