Wednesday, February 13, 2008

People's Empowerment and Anti-corruption Initiatives!

Corruption in the Philippines, both as a political and cultural phenomenon, emerges again in the Arroyo government. The predicament and testimony of Jun Lozada, a Bicolano, showed again the depth and extent of corruption in the national government. It also gave us a chilling insight into the personalities and groups involved in corruption! The $329.5M NBN Project is turning out to be another showcase of how corruption touches both the personal/cultural ties and the governmental structures!

For an ordinary citizen, this situation gives a sense of dread: the kind of struggle that one will get into and the kind of enemies that one will face in the battle against corruption is formidable! It is no wonder then that the dominant public attitude nowadays towards the situation is apathy, indifference, and cynicism. The message for those who intend to be warriors against corruption: BACK OFF! DONT MESS WITH US!

Unfortunately, these scandals and allegations of corruptions (including the way the government is handling it) is eroding our democratic institutions. Some cabinet officials and the PNP, it seems, is being implicated in a scheme to suppress the truth, including the alleged act of kidnapping. Other government officials such as former COMELEC Chairperson Abalos and even the "Big Boy" First Gentleman is being named as alleged parties in the transaction. The Senate hearing is being peddled as political grandstanding instead of being a legitimate investigation. The HOR is busy with its leadership transition, but let us not forget that the son of the former speaker is at the center of the NBN deal controversy. In the middle of all these, the LPP submits a "resolution of support" to PGMA and her allies in various LGUs resurrects the push for charter change.

It is not surprising then that the public is growing to be more wary, cynical, and negative towards government and politics. Such attitude will have serious implications to the future of our country. Eroding the legitimacy of governmental institutions encourage adventurism. Curtailing critical opinions diminishes freedom and it undermines empowerment. Most adversely, this attitude will give those who are in power the impression that they can do whatever they want with impunity, and get away with it!

The government must realize at this point that there is a need to put more substance into its propaganda lines. The gap between its public statements and its actual moves must be lessened, specially that on corruption!

Most important, let the ordinary citizens heed the call to action! It may begin with educating ourselves on what is actually happening in the country. From such knowledge must proceed action. But for such action to be effective, it must always have a collective expression! An empowered people is beyond intimidation, a collective outrage leads to social transformation!

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