Conversation

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

I sit here, in between worlds. I have tried for weeks to understand both the government’s point of view, and the opposition’s point of view on PDAF. I sit in between both worlds simply because the matter of pork, and what we need to do to fix it long term is bigger than any one person.

I have no doubt that the conversation— good and evil— remain valid. The analogy that the Philippines is a broken down house that needs fixing hold true. Four years after we have elected Benigno S. Aquino III to the Philippines we have finally started to open some of the bigger structural problems.

The issue of pork and how the people’s money is managed for one thing is a huge and gapping hole. Money is like oil and fuel. It forms a fundamental part of logistics. Like air, cut it off and anything dies. A person is crippled. A business collapses. A government can not serve and protect its people. So we have all this money lost to corruption.

PDAF comes out like a massive stink. Like a dead corpse found between wall frames, buried by its murderer. It is a stink of selfishness, and greed. Fancy cars, and luxury condos fill the pages of the news. A demand to hold those accountable, and a massive push to uncover the mess.

So the people took to the streets in protest. As I have written before, it bewildered me. Didn’t we expect to find…this? Wasn’t this why in 2010 Aquino won on the basis of Anti-Corruption?

If ever you need to be schooled about the basic process of how the budget works, and how PDAF interacts with it— then no better place than “The Abolition of Pork“.

Undersecretary Manolo Quezon correctly highlights the first step in solving the problem:

Here is step one for anyone interested to solve this problem: “So what is the solution? Two: first, find, prosecute, and punish those who broke the law. Second, stop the flawed system, and replace it with a new system that actually addresses the needs of the public instead of filling the pockets of officials. Any solution, just as a reminder, must conform to the Constitution and the role given to legislators and the Executive; and it is all laid out in the national budget, the most important law enacted by Congress each year, based on the proposals submitted by the President

So three months in… one of the biggest names to have popped out of the PDAF scam, Senator Jinggoy Estrada reportedly left the country… and the Anti-Pork movement at least as of this writing hasn’t said anything.

Over the long weekend, a massive defacement campaign by people calling themselves Anonymous attacked 30 government websites supposedly in protest.

Here’s a screenshot from Interaksyon:

Screenshot 2013-11-04 09.45.38

As @ceso on twitter points out:

Tony La Viña on twitter shares Dr. Nicole Curato’s assessment of President Aquino’s latest speech on the pork barrel entitled, “The President as Spin Doctor“:

Undersecretary Manolo Quezon writes back:

Earlier, I had a good discussion with Kiko Acero on this.

On one point I do agree with Dr. Curato is that we do need creative solutions. What I disagree vehemently was this from Dr. Curato:

“This is why it is crucial that Malacañang seriously engages the people’s demands for abolishing pork instead of relying on spin. What the Scrap Pork Movement and other citizen-led initiatives against trapo politics exemplify is the shift of the center of influential political ideas. Creative and bolder alternatives for budget reform emerge from discussions among partisan and unaffiliated citizens. People today come out as persistent, not the type that can be “distracted” by dealing with more than one issue at a time.”

To be fair to the Aquino Administration, they did reach out and sought to engage the public after the so called Million People March (but it was in actuality just mere thousands). I think the administration understood the people’s anger. The meeting was held and cabinet secretaries were present. Cabinet secretaries. Nothing came out of it because the MPM folks didn’t engage.

I for one am disappointed.

So I sit here, between two worlds, wondering. Where then does this leave the conversation? Where then does this leave our motivation on how to solve the problem if no one is intellectually honest? Maybe it is time to put up a chair, have nice cold drink in one hand, and watch while the world burns. It is a nice way to shoot ourselves in the foot, isn’t it?

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Cha

    It is not that they love what this President has done for good governance
    any less than the rest of us, they just happen to love the country more.

    And so they come, they all come, not to praise him but to bury him.

    He who stands for what is right, he who has chosen to govern with people who, too believe in doing right, he who has made it all possible for the people to find out what wrong has been done; he is but a spin doctor, a disingenuous, deceptive manipulator of the truth. One not ought to be believed.

    And Dr. Curato is brilliant. A beacon of truth and wisdom. They all are.

    • Niggling in the back of my mind is a blog wanting to come out. Somehow connecting the superstitious nature of many Filipinos to an endless fascination with negativity, or the dark side that they think is in every other Filipino. Because the darkness is in them? Mr. Aquino should bask in light, not this darkness that others seem bent on tossing.

      • Cha

        Go for it, Joe. Would read any one of your blogs over the likes of Curato’s “enlightened” opinion anytime. Otherwise, I’ll stick it out with Shakespeare. 🙂

        • Ha. Go for the comedy, eschew the tragedy.(Aside. I wonder if Shakespeare ever got “gobsmacked”!? ahahahaha)

  • GabbyBD

    I think both dela vina and quezon are wrong for different reasons.

    the professor is wrong because her definition of spinning is incomplete. spinning is presenting complex policy in a simple (simplistic) manner toward a self-serving purpose. This usually means leaving out key details that impact materially on your argument.

    Simplifying arguments is UNAVOIDABLE in democracy. but in advanced democracies, there is usally a parallel current where mature arguments are debated, and these more nuanced argument filter down (slowly) to mainstream discussions.

    using the justification for the iraq war, the justification was done on different levels, by all players. the president did it, the VP did it, etc… the crucial thing is that condi rice, for example, would also sell it to foreign policy wonks, academics, pundits, and a parallel debate would ensue.

    of course, the problem was that, in the iraq case, no debate really occurred coz it was confusion post-9/11 about what american foreign policy would be exactly.

    i hope one day, a parallel debate would also happen in the country.

  • GabbyBD

    “Nothing came out of it because the MPM folks didn’t engage.”

    how could the MPM folks engage at the time? was the public invited to these cabinet meetings?

  • Two words that mean a writer has a political agenda, and is not being honest, are “apologist” and “spin” used in context to describe backers who support the President, or the President himself. .

    The Philippines, culturally, is set up do define a clear pecking order from powerful to powerless. Until 2010, the power in the Philippines rested with those who bent the rules, cheated, lied, and even stole, to gain the benefits of money and power. President Aquino came in and upset the cart, and put good motive on top. Right now, the pushing by the disenfranchised cheaters to stay in power is reaching a loud scream. So the attack language is widespread. Because cheating was widespread. I look at the people who call call the President’s message “spin” and I conclude that there are a lot of people in the Philippines who are either very guilty or very ignorant. Probably half and half, among all the scribes who toss off those two words, “apologist” and “spin”.

    To see the widespread smearing of the guy who has done more good for the Philippines than possibly any prior president is flat-out stunning. It’s as if Filipinos are indeed born to lose. They can’t SEE the good. Only what people of note tell them is bad.