Saturday, June 19, 2010

Expectations and no change

Challenges facing the incoming Aquino administration are far and wide, serious and dangerous. Beyond the challenge of reducing the scourge of poverty and the ever-serious and endemic problem of graft, lies the problem of failed expectations.

Unwittingly, the incoming Aquino administration has raised the bar of expectations among the people. I think the initial 35% of the registered voters who believed in Aquino and hoped for changes to happen, has probably ballooned to about half or even more than half of the population. You can feel it. I feel it. Everyone I think feels it.

Noynoy's policy statements are at best, reflective of popular sentiments. His strong stance against the stay of midnight appointees, and his consistent vow to punish smugglers and grafters in government have resonated within the four corners of the Republic. Everyone expects some heads to roll and every single one, in fact, most of those who supported Aquino, expect Noynoy to do the "right thing"...always.

This is the problem. The nation's problems, as I said, are far and wide, serious and dangerous. Along the way, expect this engine of change to falter, even sputter while it morphs from an idealistic organization into a naive, even a pragmatic one.

It remains to be seen how this organization, composed of idealistic volunteers would try to inject their "nationalist, bourgeois" concepts of change into a monolithic and very traditional bureaucracy. The Philippine bureaucracy would not easily open itself up and make itself a participative organization. It would take a great number of years before a complete change happens.

An industrial engineer knows that.

Change, as it seems, is far from the grasps of those who invested their faith in the peaceful manner of change. For example, this monstrosity of a bureaucracy will still retain much of its despicable character even beyond June 30. It is its nature of being a monstrosity. It is in its nature of being a counter-agent for change, because it has survived for decades being non-traditional.

June 30 is not some magical moment when everything changes in a blink of an eye. No. June 30 is just the start of the struggle.

This is the problem---every one thinks that come June 30, one will see substantial changes to happen.

What I expect to see come June 30 is merely a change of the guards---from the nuovo elites called Arroyo mafia to the old elites composed of relics of 60s style politics. The behavior of government will not change, no. The nature of the bureaucracy will not cease to exist, no. Only those faces who terrorized us for nine years will fade. Yet the acts and behavior which we experienced throughout the entire existence of the Philippine Republic will continue.

Consider this.

When Arroyo was still in power, counter-elites demand for the abolition of the pork barrel. Now that these counter-elites are now in power, in a blink of an eye, the image of the pork as a necessary evil turned into a blessing.

There are still no concrete policy statement regarding land reform. We only heard things like no smoking for Noynoy, but nothing against landlords retaining their lands.

Nothing substantial did we hear from the Aquino camp on how they would deal with the insurgency problem. Aquino was just quoted to have said that those who will not join him nor toe the government line will be left by the wayside. Does this mean that his way is the only way? What if his way goes against what the People think as the best way for them to tread?

Mindanao-ans expect something concrete and possibly better to happen under Aquino than Arroyo. Yet, aside from appointing Teresita Deles as his peace adviser, nothing substantive was ever heard from Aquino. If we are to judge his closeness with Manuel Roxas, surely, an agreement along the lines of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domains (MOA-AD) will have to be relegated to the dustbin. Roxas opposed the implementation of the MOA-AD. He even threatened to marshall a sizeable number of Ilonggo volunteers to make war against the Bangsamoros. If this is the case, expect the Mindanao problem to remain a festering issue for the next six years.

And if we are to say that the economy will improve, yes, it will. Yet, the conditions of the Filipino worker will not. NEDA and the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) already showed us the figures. Despite the purported growth of the GDP, unemployment grew by 3 million. The hold of less than one percent of the Philippine population over 56% of this country's resources will remain. It would not be surprising if it even increased, what with the traditional economic elites represented by the Makati Business Club (MBC) participating in how government conducts trade and how it treats labor relations.

How then will we ever expect a change in the economic philosophy of this country when the incoming administration will appoint Cesar Purisima in Finance and Paderanga in NEDA. I dein say that the BSP will have a Cuisia clone as its head, again, signs of a continuation of the depredatory economic policy that impoverished many in the late 90s and early 2000's.

Smuggling, which stifles competition, will remain. The drug trade and the flourishing jueteng operations will ever oh so remain in this country. Expect rice prices to remain high, even prohibitory in the future. Eradicating 300 billion pesos through anti-corruption drives will not deter evil traders from their trade.

And how would Aquino control the increasing power of the military elites who demand respect and probably even a slice of the economic pie? With idealistic elements now poised to go back to their barracks while some enterprising ones vow allegiance to the new administration, who, then, will serve as the opposing voice? Not this Rasputin by the name of Norberto Gonzales. He deserves nothing but our contempt.

In the end, after ninety days, brace yourself. Our oohs and ahhs will turn into scorn. But, not if we can prevent it.