BusinessWorld wrote that pessimism is up in the Philippines as it talked about the first quarter confidence index. It is now down to -23.1 percent, from -8.5 percent in the previous three months. Inflationary pressures are to be blamed, and gloom is across all income groups.
This isn’t helped by the culture of schadenfreude that seem to thrive.
Legislation is expected to take a backseat as the Senate convenes to try the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for breach of public trust. The trial could take up to four months. Gutierrez, a long time ally of former President Arroyo is viewed by many together with an Arroyo appointed Supreme Court to be the key stumbling block to bring the former President and her ilk to justice.
As Manuel Buencamino points out, in the event that Gutierrez is acquitted, Aquino simply appoints a new Ombudsman heading towards the mid-term elections. Cases filed against Mrs. Arroyo and her allies at that key juncture could still do much damage.
In “Promises, Promises,” Doy points out the folly of no new taxes. He also points out the frustration that most people feel. It is the slowness of change that Aquino promised. This, above all else drives people to pessimism.
There are many quiet changes happening in Government. What’s endemic is that these are not the big, loud, things one would normally associate with politics and political change. It is mostly quiet, and under the hood. The Finance department for example is getting its act together. There is also the universal health care agenda, labor governance, also the first batch of public-private partnerships.
These have all been eclipsed by faux pas. The ineptitude and mishandling of the Hostage crisis in August is the first of many. What’s sad is how Aquino seem to have protected key allies post crisis, and this beyond what transpired on that day makes it a faux pas. Another, it took a full 8 months before the government submitted to Congress its priority measures.
Part of the problem is that no one seem to be able to grasp the depth and breadth of the situation. The unwieldy condition of the bureaucracy makes matters worst. This inertia is difficult to overcome. And amidst all the structural changes, this too has to be overcome.
The state of the nation is indeed like that old Spanish house made of narra, but it is now old, with its roof leaking, and its pipes broken. The doors of the house are all in a state of disrepair. The electrical wiring are all worn out, and is a fire hazard. Try as one might to put an LCD TV, and Macs and WiFi in the house, and other modern conveniences like a microwave and updated refrigerator, and aircon, it clearly shows the dichotomy of two worlds. It clearly shows the separation between the past and the present, and we are carrying the burden of the past into the future.
So where do we go from here?
With the Merci trial underway, rest assured that many of the bills that the Government wants and needs to pass will take a backseat. And with the Palace indicating that it intends to offer up its own version of the RH Bill, this puts into doubt the current debate on it. At best, the RH Bill could be passed later in the year, and worst, it could drag on into the election year where pressure from the Church would dampen its approval. Well, perhaps the President’s version will see the light of day if the Church goes with it.
If Merci’s trial drags into August, it becomes tougher for LEDAC 23 bills to get passed, unless there is already an agreement between the executive and congress to get the job done. The government will also need to pass a generation appropriation’s measure by year’s end. It would theoretically give five months of debate to get it done.
The schedule seems iffy, but if Aquino puts his weight behind it, maybe. What good will that weight be if his approval ratings go down, and dissent starts to creep in is another threat to be considered.
Prior the election campaign, Aquino rode high, but all the campaign’s promise had to give way to tactical considerations when the President’s lead was destroyed by Manny Villar entering the election campaign proper. It would seem that something similar is happening in this administration. Perhaps, with a much more diminished trust rating, the administration would hustle.
What is also clear is that the problems facing the nation are deeper than anyone suspects, or anyone understands. The systematic state of disrepair the Republic is in, is clearly not understood by critics, or by the general public, and I suspect, the administration sees only the surface of it. It isn’t a slight to administration or critics or the public. It is simply a realization that the problem is complex and interdependent, and no one has the entire picture. It will take decades and several presidencies to steer the ship of state properly, and that much is clear. What is also clear is that nation building is not an exclusive providence of government. Social impact, and real change happens in the little things we do as private citizens. That’s how change happens.
Photo credit: Malacañang Photo Bureau