I want to greet the New Year with this post, a post that ends this blog’s long silence and one which begins a brand new promise of participating in our democracy by contributing to the national voice.
The previous year, like many other years had been a mixed box of pleasant and unpleasant events. The turn of a new government under the P-Noy administration has brought in a new dawnbreak for our people who, though continually struggling, do not resign themselves to the belief that Hope has diminished along with our Trust to politics and governance which had already been diminished by the previous administration. Despite the fact that a string of blunders has tarnished the bud of P-Noy’s tenure, it still remains that the new president has the promise of being a different leader in that he seems to have the least interest in enriching his pockets. I hope that this will not just be an impression, but an accomplished reality in the end.
The swift and early signing of the P1.645-trillion national budget for 2011, the release of political prisoners detained by the Arroyo administration, P-Noy’s calls for the silencing of haughty and insolent elitism echoing in his “Walang Wang-Wang, Walang Tong, Walang Counterflow” speech and his attempts to erase the vestige of a government inherited from a scandal-laden administration are pretty good signs that the new government is able to translate words into action.
P-Noy has to watch out though, not to fall into the trap arising from the clamor of the mob. He has to have his own judgment to weigh the propriety of what the people want him to do. Though the vox populi, vox Dei dictum is a democratic linchpin especially to a dominantly theist country like the Philippines, being the said “voice of God” is not a passport for “the voice of the people” to be obeyed through and through. As this country’s chief executive, P-Noy acts as the head, and thus he has to be the chief brain of national policy-making, fairly utilizing his vested authority to think things through so as to make them fair to all and injurious to none, even to fugitives who are too, entitled to the due process of the law.
Not only that, as a leader he also has the moral responsibility to become the “conscience” of the Filipino people.
Which makes me believe that the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Truth Commission was justified (regardless of the SCORP’s motivation) in a way in which democracy should treat every person with equity before the law. Democracy is not anchored in Utilitarian principles of policies made “for the greater good,” instead it aims for the ethical ideals of "the Greatest Good," where everyone deserves equal footing before the gavel no matter how necessary a different kind of prosecution may seem. Nor does it too, settle in the antiquarian rules of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” If Arroyo had been unjust during her regime it does not mean that we have to employ that same injustice, even to her, otherwise we have just become the very monster that we tried to defeat. Though the prospect of making Arroyo responsible for leading a corruption-ridden government may be a relief to the many lives her era had severed, it is the law that forbids her facing the executive branch’s specialized and paramount attention and stoning (unless her acts may be deemed as crimes against humanity).
This fact for us may be heart-breaking. But this is equality promised by our sacred Constitution, suing on level ground on one hand while preventing prejudiced punishment on the other. Arroyo is lucky enough to benefit from this, for this time the law becomes strangely harsh towards the victims, but nevertheless it is the law. This is an example of the blindness of Justice and equal protection regardless of personal status.
The attempted creation of the Truth Commission is an instance of acts arising from popular expectations, and it is very popular indeed. But being guarded by the Constitution where no man is supreme the President of the Republic must acknowledge the fact that he is under its dictatorship come what may. Anyway, we are a government of laws and not of men.
Twenty-ten is also the year of the Manila hostage crisis, perpetrated by a disgruntled policeman who hi-jacked a busload of 25 people, 20 of whom were Hong Kong tourists. National and international criticisms are enough for us to change our media’s old system of sensationalizing events in the expense of a tragedy just to be able to compete with each other. Also this has given a slap on the face of our police force to improve their training and preparedness. In reaction to this the government raised its budget allocation.
The nation also suffered a lot in 2010. In September a grenade blast rocked De La Salle University where thousands of aspiring lawyers and supporters were having fanfare in time for the bar exams. Thirty-five people were injured.
In October Typhoon Juan, one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever recorded, swept through Northern Luzon, leaving a trail of destruction where over 200, 000 people were made homeless.
Then in November, Vicente Romano III officially resigned his post as Department of Tourism (DOT) undersecretary hounded by a harshly-criticized tourism promotion campaign called "Pilipinas Kay Ganda," the concept of which was lifted from the “Polska!” campaign of Poland.
However, we also had a lot to celebrate in 2010. On March 4, National Scientist Lourdes J. Cruz was honored at the L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science for her breakthrough research on conotoxins.
On May 10, the country voted in its first-ever automated elections.
Venus Raj, whose question-and-answer slip up became one of the popular topics in cyberspace this year, was proclaimed fifth best in the Miss Universe beauty pageant.
In sports, Manny Pacquiao thrashed Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito in matches eight months apart to claim his eighth consecutive weight class. Another Filipino pugilist, Nonito Donaire, TKOed Hernan Marquez to retain his interim super flyweight title, and then five months later also defeated Wladimir Sidorenko to win the WBC Continental Americas bantamweight title.
Lately the Azkals football club of PH defeated Vietnam 2-0 in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup quarterfinal round. The defeat was considered one of the biggest upsets ever recorded in the regional tournament.
We also bid goodbyes and paid tributes to people who are worth remembering, including former Press Secretary Cerge Remonde (b. 1958), comedy actor Palito (b. 1933), folk singer Fred Panopio (b. 1941), popular psychic Jojo Acuin (b. 1957), comedian Redford White (b. 1955), 2009 Binibining Pilipinas International Melody Gersbach (b. 1986), former Supreme Court Associate Justice Abraham Sarmiento (b. 1921), poet Ophelia A. Dimalanta (b. 1933), and writer and graphic novelist Pablo Gomez (b. 1929), who once gave me a brand new wallet in one of our writing workshops in Bulacan.
We triumphed, failed, learned lessons, and said goodbyes. Today we are looking forward to a brand new year - nay, to a brand new era still with unvanquished hopes and dreams, and most of all, (I pray) with an iron will.