Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where is government? The People's response to Tony Meloto's appeals

I think my previous entry is not enough to really hammer the point--yes, it is admirable to say that every Filipino should do his responsibility for the Nation. And yes, it is very easy to say that every single one do his little duty to help the government, especially this new administration.

However, if government fails to provide the necessary conditions for the people to really do his "small" or "little things", translate: duties, how then would these little things amount to anything?

One example--manage your garbage properly. Okey, you know that perishables go to the perishable black trash bag and the unperishables go to the other, and then you then put it in a big trash can for collection. You did your "small thing" already. What's the response of government?

Response:there is no one to collect that big trash can. That happens a lot. What do you do? Tell government especially the local government unit to do its job? Frankly, citizens have been doing that for centuries! Despite that, no efficient trash collection system has been implemented especially in Metro Manila.

Okey, so your trash is collected, where do the LGU put your trash? They carve out a section of a lush mountain, cut all those trees and give it to the illegal logger and sell the soil to some contractor. Government then puts your trash there to rot without necessarily constructing it as a good and viable dumping site. It then affects the environment. Your small thing leads to nothing while the government's "small thing" even leads to environmental destruction. Touche.

Another example---follow traffic rules. For the sake of those who don't know, every single Filipino driver, I believe, wants to follow these rules. In fact, this appeal is just for the sake of those who have cars, not to the majority of the Filipinos who use public transport and can't afford one. Some of those who don't, and most of them are bus and jeepney drivers do so not because they are sociopaths, they are constrained by the conditions on the road to violate rules.

For those who have cars, they really want to follow traffic rules. Yet, most of the time, traffic lights do not function, there are inadequate road signs along avenues and national highways, there are no traffic enforcers in the area since most of the time they are concerned about where they'll get their next merienda and worst, roads are potmarked with craters.

We do our small thing and even pay for that road tax, but where is government? You want to do your "little thing", but the conditions on the ground is not there for you to religiously do that every single time. The solution lies not on the people, but on government to do its share.

The third example---pay for the education of a poor kid. That is an admirable trait. Yet, most of the time, you finance the education of some poor kid who is not really that poor. I mean, those really poor would simply not go to you for help simply because of hiya. And why is this included in the little thing anyway? Because the elite felt responsible that the reason why these poor kids cannot go to work is simply the lack of jobs or that workers are not being paid decent wages. If the parents of these poor kids are being paid enough, and if most have jobs, then, would it be necessary for you to even finance the education of poor kids? No.

Free education in the Philippines is just an advertising slogan, even an empty one. The education department complains of poor or inadequate budget. Yes, it is inadequate simply because the bulk is being pocketed by unscrupulous education officials and their syndicates. If government does not do its job of firing these unscrupulous officials, then, what would happen? We will just dream of giving free education to the next generation.

Sixth example---demand for a receipt whenever you buy something. I know a lot of Pinoys do this already. Even jeepney drivers. But what happens afterward? The company fails to remit their receipts. They ask their trusted BIR collector and examiner to just let him scot-free. The owner commits a small cheating. But, this is not small. Thousands do this. And the BIR just lets them be. The BIR do not go after big-time tax cheats and why? Owners of these establishments are connected one way or another to a high-government official or a politician.

Seventh example---follow the law. Every single Filipino, I really believe, wants to follow the law. In fact, whenever a Filipino is in some foreign country, he behaves even better than the citizen of that country. OFWs are examples. Expatriates are another. There are about less than 1% of our population who are really what we call sociopaths. They are the certified scums of this earth, what we call the lumpen proletariats. Some who commit petty crimes do so out of desperation. Most, follow the law.

However, what is government's response to the law-abiding citizen? A justice system that is as fractured as our earthquake faults. The law-abiding Filipino sees justice as something for the elites, not for him. Imagine the Joc-Joc Bolantes running around with their smiles and their stash hidden away in some Hongkong bank. Imagine a Cito Lorenzo, a former government official, hob-nobbing with the President, after his brother gave 20 million pesos during the last elections. And even imagine, many drug lords doing their thing with impunity after cops bungled their jobs of prosecuting them.

Mr. Meloto, how then can an ordinary Filipino like me do these little things as religiously as what you and others want, when the very same government who is expected by us to lead by example, and lay the very conditions for us to accomplish our small tasks for the sake of the country, is, itself, deficient.

How much more do you want us, the People, to give to this Republic? How much taxes do you want us to give from our pockets so that government will finally do its job? How much sacrifice do you want us to do when from the very beginnings of this Republic, we have invested all our lives to make it the best there is in this continent?

You demand that citizens be engaged when we, in our small ways, have engaged government for the longest time, yet the simplest demand for this government to do its duty, remains unresolved and unanswered.

You want to follow traffic rules, but there are no signs to begin with, no order in the streets. You want to put your trash in the proper place, but there are no trash cans nor collecting agencies of government who do their duties. You follow the law, but when you demand justice and you're just a poor fella, you are expected to suffer jail time.

You want to share the beauty of this country to other races, but what images do they see? A greyish Metropolitan landscape that mirrors the slowly diminishing hope of its citizenry. News of how governments bungle their jobs and how government officials steal the citizen's monies with impunity and get away scot-free. Of, vicious clashes between troops and rebels occuring every single day in Mindanao and of foreigners being kidnapped in Sulu and Basilan.

How then will you share the beauty of your country and be proud of being Filipino when the government fails in its primary duties?

Will you lie and say that you live in a beautiful country?

Our country is really beautiful, the Filipino People is the greatest in the world, and I sincerely believe that. How beautiful this country is beyond words.

Yet, marauders roam our streets, thieves dominate our government and uncaring elites oppress our people. The beauty of our country is slowly being erased by the very actions of these people. The greatness of the Filipino is now, a distant memory.

We ask this government to fully commit itself of really fixing its act together for the sake not of this generation, but future generations. If we love our fellow Filipino, we demand government to do its share in nation-building.

Demand from government, Mr. Meloto would probably burst in disgust, why will you demand from government? The least that you could do, says Meloto, is demand that government be faithful.

Mr. Meloto, as Citizens of this Republic, it is our right to demand from government. If this government expects us to do our little things, then, let it be the primary body to create the conditions for us to live respectably and decently.

Government should be the bridge that would ask big companies to give us decent wages. Government should be the one who will say enough of oil cartels and give the people just gasoline rates. Government should be the one who will tell Meralco, enough of your greed and give the people their just electricity rates. And government should be the one to go after big-time smugglers, grafters and tax cheats, haul them to jail, execute them if the law warrants and parlay their faces before the TV cameras and shame their families.  

If the government does not do these things, what is the purpose of a government? Even if we the People support the government, but the government continues to be irresponsible and unresponsive, what then would happen to us? If we don't demand from government this thing called social justice, how then will democracy thrive?

How would this happen, when this new administration continuously appoint old, recycled talents in its cabinet? If this administration does that, we then get old and recycled ideas and solutions.

How would change really happen when this administration appoints members of the Old Boy's Club, those who, for two decades, already knew the inner workings of the corrupt government, yet, did not lift a single finger to address them. Their records speak of who they really are.

Citizen engagement begins even when government services fail. When government fails, it is time to admit that the very system which a government relies its existence, is not responsive, and therefore, fit to be overhauled.  

Tony Meloto is one fine gentleman, a true Patriot of this new generation. And I believe that, for him to really accomplish greater things, more than what he is doing right now, he has to be transformed into a true "bridge" for the Filipino.

Meloto must be the voice of the Filipino People. He must articulate what the poor Filipinos want--an improvement in the quality of their lives. This is just a simple thing, but entails a lot of hard work.

Meloto, like Nicanor Perlas, knows the yearnings of the poor. Working within the system slows them down. It is time for Mr. Meloto to really do greater things by articulating the Filipino Dream, and that dream is really simple---make us live decently and honorably by giving us what is due to us---a true, just and humane society.

The onus lies not entirely on us, the Filipino People, but in this government whom trust and confidence were reposed.

It is time for government to work, para naman patas ang laban, dahil matagal nang engaged at nagtratrabaho ang mga Pinoy upang manumbalik ang kagalingan ng lahing ito.

(By the way, the famous adage " Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" and " work for your country despite or inspite of government" only applies to Americans. Most Americans have money. Before JFK said these things, the US government already made life comfortable for Americans. Meaning, the US government did its part. That's why JFK asked his fellow Americans to do their share. This does not apply to us, Filipinos. We have been doing our share in Nation-building. All our efforts however, fell by the wayside because government remains unresponsive.Or, moving at an opposite direction. We do our duties as citizen and strive for a better society, government moves in the opposite--they just want the Old Boy's Club to improve the conditions of high society.)