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Recovery from a wasted decade DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 01/18/2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Recovery from a wasted decade


Herman Tiu Laurel
Two days from today will be the 10th anniversary of Edsa II, Jan. 20, claimed to be a bloodless regime change. That is a lie. It was born of the blood of murdered men, women and children, from over a dozen dead in the Rizal Day bombing on December 2000, to the machine gunning of another dozen on May 1, 2001 at the Edsa Tres march to Malacañang, to the hundreds killed in 10 years of extra-judicial killings, the countless killings in MILF-Abu Sayyaf clashes and beheadings of Filipinos and soldiers, down to the 57 Maguindanao Massacre victims. It is also a continuation of the Edsa I counter-democratic revolution briefly interrupted by the popular electoral victory of President Joseph Estrada which birthing a government of, by and for the people in mandate, in spirit and in practice.
The country has been lost in the wilderness of Gloria Arroyo, her crony oligarchs and “evil society”; perfidy and treason, government and corporatist corruption, continuous agricultural and industrial deconstruction, social and moral decay. This is not just perfunctory nitpicking.
All the statistics bear out the socio-economic, political deterioration. If there has been no regime change for the past nine years it has not been for lack of attempts (there have been at least three) or lack of popular enmity (Gloria is more unpopular than the demonized Marcos regime); the national patrimony, national coffers and national sovereignty plundered to pay off foreign powers, corporatist interests and local military and police generals to buy the survival of this regime. The annual rise in hunger and poverty indexes bear out the rest.
Two years ago The Economist group reported: “The Philippines has seriously underperformed relative to the region… with per capita GDP growth of 1.0 percent trailing its neighbors’ 4.0-6.0 percent… in 2007, the country lagged behind Thailand, China, Indonesia and was ‘in danger’ of being overtaken by India. The Philippines was also in the bottom rung in terms of foreign direct investments behind Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia… Moreover, the country ranked lower than neighboring countries in the corruption perception index — only a notch higher than Cambodia. Out of 180 countries, the Philippines was ranked 140th in terms of ease of doing business… generating more investment would require reducing power rates, curbing corruption, and cutting red tape. At 18 cents per kilowatt hour, the Philippines has one of highest electricity costs in Asia…”
This Economist report tells the real story of Edsa Dos, but Philippine electricity rates are given special mention in the evaluation of the Philippines’ investment climate. This “highest electricity costs in Asia” is a particular contribution of the Edsa Dos-Gloria Arroyo regime to the Philippines. It’s Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) was hastily enacted into law in the first five months after the coup against the Estrada government, and the consequence is the economic decay that we see today. But that is only part of the story of high basic utilities, business and living costs: The Philippines began instituting the highest per cubic meter water and port services costs in Asia. Consequently, industries have shutdown, a disproportionate share of the national income went to the few family oligarchies (highlighting their special role), while hunger and poverty indexes precipitously rose.
Philippine political democracy also drastically deteriorated. From a triumph of constitutional and popular democracy in the 1998 elections the political system decayed into a constitutional travesty: The use of force and “constructive” constitutional interpretations to overturn a legitimately elected government that faithfully followed the Rule of Law and the mandate of the Constitution. All elections that followed Edsa II smacked of manipulation and outright cheating using gold, goons and guns that made “dagdag-bawas” and “Ampatuan” household words. “State of Rebellion,” “State of Emergency” and “Martial Law” were declared under the slightest pretext. The earlier decade’s improvements of the democratic process and space were all obliterated after the 2001 Edsa II. While in the same period, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam all made strides in its democratic record.
All Filipinos should feel regret and remorse for the lost years since Edsa II. In regretting the nation will learn its lessons and redirect its footsteps to march forward in unity. A golden opportunity presented itself when Corazon Aquino, the Edsa I and II symbol, expressed her “death bed” regret and remorse for the error of Edsa II. That golden opportunity was quashed by her heirs when they brushed off the regret and remorse as a “joke.” Without acceptance of error there is no discernment; without discernment there is only disorientation. This is the real intent of those behind the perpetuation of the error of Edsa II in perpetrating the candidacy of the three oligarchs’ presidential bets upon whom establishment political clout, media and financial resources are being poured. Odd man out in this picture: President Estrada, candidate of the people and the masses.
The task is now to recover from the wasteland of Edsa II and Gloria Arroyo. To achieve this, the nation needs leadership not of promises but of demonstrated faithfulness, to the Rule of Law, to economic sovereignty, to the welfare of the people, to standards of integrity and courage to resist tyranny and the oligarchy in the face of persecution and incarceration, with qualities of magnanimity and fecundity emanating from experience and wisdom. None of the other candidates matches Estrada’s virtues of leadership for the people and the times. The challenge is to break through all the disinformation and misinformation, the distracting din of the propaganda of mainstream media and the oligarchs’ candidates to get the message of Erap across.

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune


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