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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Palasan: Issues hitting home

FOR SO long, the mantra of the national government has been sound macroeconomics. Improve the economy from the top and let the largesse trickle down to the common tao.

After Cory Aquino who was saddled with strengthening the democratic institutions, presidents, past and present, have been harping on the need for sound economic fundamentals. Sound economy, more often than not, means exacting taxes from even the sari-sari stores, and strict withholding taxes of the ordinary employees.

Well, decades have passed since the mantra of sound macroeconomics. Result? High gross domestic products, and surplus of dollar reserves. There are more rich Pinoys breaking into the top of Fortune 500 billionaires.

But the trickle-down effect has been insignificant. There has been no downpour of economic benefits from the top to bottom. What the poor has been receiving is like infrequent raindrops from the economic sky that patter in their roofs which they could not gather.

Result: the gap between the rich and the poor has been wider.

The economic mantra at this time simply would not sell. Its salesmen like Mar Roxas, and even Grace Poe, granting she would not be disqualified, are missing the whole point of the popular debate.

What the Filipinos are looking for now are the remedies to the issues that confront them daily: drugs, horrendous traffic, violence in the streets, smuggling, corruption at all levels of the bureaucracy, stench of garbage, food, shelter, good roads and bridges, education, and health.

The economic jargon does not appeal to the common tao unless it improves his daily grind.

Mar Roxas is losing grip of the core issues the poor and middle class want to be addressed. Continuing the “daang matuwid” has lost its appeal. Almost six years are over, and yet the streets are not yet freed of the thugs and robbers. Almost six years after, the poor has become poorer. Almost six years after, we still have a president, and his minions, who could not understand the dynamics of “tanim-bala.”

The common tao, the presidentiables must heed, does not anymore listen to mantras and propaganda. He now wants result, something tangible; one that he experiences in his community.

The Duterte phenomenon is not his cursing, nor womanizing. But it has to do something in his willingness to kill to get rid of rapists, smugglers, robbers and drug-pushers. His admission of killing personally the criminals has not repulsed the people but it has even added to the mystic that is Rodrigo Duterte.

The human rights activists, the moralists, and even the legalists, are crying foul to the ways of Duterte. Cry they must. Shout they must. The heavens may listen but the people are not.

For the poor to embrace the Duterte mystic is an expression of the gravity of the people’s frustrations over how government is being run. Enough of “pogi” points, enough of “epals,” enough of the economic jargons. The people now want results.

The people want a leader who is an action man, who delivers results. Unfortunately, Duterte is the man with whom the people trust to improve their circumstances in life. Duterte’s iron-hand in Davao has delivered results. The means may be questionable, but the results cannot be argued.

Admitting before a national television to have killed personally criminals is self-incrimination. What we have suspected about Duterte that he has gone extra-legal is now admitted before the national audience.

Baffling though is that despite the admissions of womanizing, and of killing criminals, his survey ratings have surged, even among the classes A, B, and C.

Does this mean that the poor and the elites alike can now tolerate extra-legal means to keep the peace? Does this mean that we as a people would go for a leader whose morality is in issue, and whose observance of the law is in doubt?

Sadly, the survey ratings, and the groundswell of support for Duterte point to the reality that the people is willing to elect a leader who can deliver results even if the means are dubious.

If anything else, the support for Duterte is an expression of a deep-seated frustration of the people of a kind of governance that often talks but does not deliver, of engaging in economic jargon without improving the stations of the poor, of stumping corruption but could not admit “tanim-bala,” of following “matuwid na daan” amid a horrendous traffic that people stop at the “mabagal na daan.”

A frustrated people do not need propaganda.
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