IT’S A simple question with the answer as difficult as a dentist pulling one’s bad tooth, in these trying and challenging times. The leaders and their brand of leadership are at the core of issue. They are the dentists and we are the patients.
As always, the question doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The imponderables rattle the nerves, boggle the mind and enough to conjure tragic images in many people’s imagination.
There are, at least, two givens that weigh heavily in people’s head and heart. The first is existential, a ravaging virus that is a protean, if not more, than the run-of-the-mill politicians that inhabit the corridors of power. Nihilism isn’t just a philosophical issue. It’s where the rubber meets the road.
So far, in the so-called war against it, thegovernment doesn’t want to admit that it’s losing the battles, even if cases are rising to the level that is worrisome and, apparently, beyond the reach of science, or our version of it, anyway.
If you believe the experts who track down the data and analyze them, the scenario could get worse before it could get better. That’s quite the definition of a dire, if not, desperate, condition.
A collateral issue or damage, depending who’s looking at the landscape, based on their vantage point, is the economy. The virus assault and the domino effect on the economy are inextricably intertwined. People are the economy, after all. There is recession because people don’t or can’t buy things they need or want. They are incapacitated, one way or the other. If they are let loose to make bucks to buy stuff, well, they will fall into the virus trap: mobility gives the virus more opportunities tospread and mutate into more unwieldy variants.
The restriction on spatial movements is internal in nature. There are no outside pressures to do it. It’s a matter of national survival. This, however, is only one part of the equation that gives many sleepless nights about the future.
The other challenge is the continuing incursion, invasion if you will, of China into our territories in the South China Sea, notwithstanding an international court ruling validating our ownership, notwithstanding the appeal by the international community to China that what their doing is illegal and a blatant affront to civilized behavior.
What is largely needling is the fact that this Administration is frustratingly quiet in the face of such glaring broad daylight grabbing of Philippine territories, even praising to high heavens the so-called civilization-state for its generosity and intellectual superiority.
The West, particularly the United States and Europe, is concerned. But, they cannot be more popishthan the pope, to so speak. We have to brush our own teeth, first. We may have an issue with the means, but ourreal problem is the will. As the old saying goes, when there is a will, there’s way. So far, the cryptic answer is, NO WAY will that bridge be crossed.
Guess who’s laughing?
The opposition, particularly former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio has expressed its disgust with this state of affairs in the South China Sea. He assails the Duterte administration for the lack of a sense of urgency. Duterte and his choir, are playing into the old Chinese card: in the long run, China will win. Patience on one side of the sea is helped, wittingly or unwittingly, by complacency on the other side.
In the pandemic front, health experts are also bewailing the President’s lack of urgency, or a sense of it. When the Complacency-in-Chief belittled the recent spikes in COVID cases, the experts blew their top about the nonchalant response. . He who said “maliit na bagaylamang yan’ or words to that effect, deserved the public opprobrium coming.
It’s a shocking response, though not surpring one, considering the clime of abuse on human rights and the cheap regard for human life and human rights in this dispensation. In the meantime, part of our suffocating political ecosystem is the continuing silence of those who know better and are tasked to do their job. They are the enablers. Their mere, seamless silence is integral to the question at hand. There’s goofing on the job, no doubt, if not sleeping with the enemy.
The past is or has been a non-sequitur to our future. That’s the way it is, because we are, by nature, allegedly forgiving nincompoops. Or Santayana is right, too; they that forget the past are condemned to repeat it. In what way? We begin with the way we choose our leaders based on their vote-buying ability than their vision-capacity. Our politics is vice trumping virtue. It’s hypocritical because the former is always paying to the latter in public discourse. What is public, said a former American president, is propaganda and what is private is policy.
After former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez was ambushed during the martial law regime, he asked a general a plaintive question: what’s happening to our country? He might as well have asked a second logical question: where is our country going?
There’s a sense of déjà vu today, only morescary because nobody seems to run the show with statesmanship and a deep sense of patriotism that our heroes have, time and again, been quoted of for purpose-driven leadership.
No wonder, some shake their head in utter disappointment and are fast on the draw to say those heroes seemingly died in vain.