Newsflash: There is a crisis of authority in the Philippines. Our institutions don’t work and we don’t trust the people behind those institutions. Oh, wait…that’s old news.
The word trust means assured resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle, of another person. It is a word that means nothing to Filipino voters, specially now that it is a mere banality thrown around by presidential candidates. After all, each and every past presidential candidate had said “trust me” in one way or another. Where are the results?
Let’s face it. In an era where what were considered to be pillars of industry and society – such iconic organisations and communities as Toyota Motors Corp, Wall Street, and the Roman Catholic Church, for example – had imploded, there is a prevailing distrust in the air not just in the Philippines but all around the globe. Institutions that many had relied upon and looked up to for guidance let us down. Malfunctioning brake pads; financial crises and sexual abuses, etcetera, etcetera. Once trust is gone, it is hard to earn it back. Once an individual’s ability to trust is gone, that person becomes completely lost and walks around town without a sense of purpose or meaning. Life is not what it used to be for the person betrayed.
Filipinos have been betrayed time and time again. As a result, a lot of Filipinos walk around devoid of purpose or meaning. They have been continuously betrayed by their government and the very people who supposedly were duty-bound to serve the Filipino people. Institutions like the Senate, Congress and the Office of the President have all been accomplices in that betrayal. Even other elite members of our society who provide essential goods and services like telecommunications, water, and energy cannot be relied upon to put their customers first before the bottom line. They too are collapsing inwards; they just don’t know it yet.
Filipinos do not trust anyone who says “trust me”. Ask the average Filipino who is apathetic about the coming election and he or she will likely just shrug and say “Pareho-pareho lang ang mga kandidatong yan. Mag-nanakaw lahat” (roughly translated, “All the candidates are the same. They are all corrupt”). Regardless of who among the two most popular candidates, Noynoy Aquino or Manny Villar, get the 40% vote in the election needed to place them in the top job, there will still be the 60% of the constituents who didn’t vote for that candidate and likely won’t trust him. That’s a lot of Filipinos who will be walking around town without senses of purpose or meaning in life.
Who can you trust in this environment? Maybe we should all learn from what happened to U.S. President Barrack Obama. President Obama is a good man. President Obama promised change during his campaign. A lot of people trusted him, and that is why he is now in office. Fast forward to now: a lot of Americans are dissatisfied with his performance. As a result, his popularity rating has declined dramatically. President Obama indeed does want change but he has a lot of detractors who don’t subscribe to his ideas around how to implement change in the system. It turns out that it was not going to be easy to institute change. Lots of businesses have vested interests in not seeing the kinds of changes that Obama wanted to implement, specially in the health care system.
This is democracy at work. It’s not easy to implement change in a First World country that practices democracy like the U.S. — and more so in a Third World country like the Philippines where institutions are weak. There is a lot of wheeling and dealing that takes place behind closed doors.
Therefore, if you have a leader like the late president Cory Aquino who was technically a push-over, then the changes that will be made could potentially be more detrimental for the country and its people. This is exactly what happened when the 1987 constitution was drafted. To put it bluntly, the same thing is going to happen if Noynoy Aquino becomes the president of the Philippines because he does not want to touch his mother’s Constitution; one that is hindering our country’s march to progress. This is precisely the reason why we cannot put our trust in Noynoy Aquino as a leader of the Philippines. Since announcing that he is not amenable to public debates anymore, he had all but confirmed that not only is he going to be another push-over like his mother, he also made it clear that he is averse to even just discussing anything but the kinds of changes that he will implement in the system — if there are any to begin with.
Greed is the name of the game in the Philippines. A lot of the people running the show find ways to manipulate the system in ways that belie their claim of having any real stake in the welfare country they are working for and living in. A lot of people say that Noynoy Aquino is not greedy but the question is, does he have what it takes to go after the greedy corporations, which evidently are owned by some of his relations and friends? Furthermore, does he have the guts to implement changes that will most likely be unfavourable to them?
Presidential candidate Manny Villar, who appears to have amassed a fortune in such a short period of time, is just a product of the very system that needs to be changed. Whatever way he made his fortune, the system in place failed to check and ring alarm bells before he got around to covering his tracks. Since greed is the name of the game, it is no surprise that there are people who would actually support his candidacy. It is because they also have vested interests that will benefit from a Villar presidency. And since Filipinos do not ask for platforms from their candidates before going to the polls (due to ignorance), they really have no idea how a man like Villar is going to manage the country while he is in office. Meanwhile, Manny Villar uses a popular game show host to reel in the crowd. To his followers, endorsement coming from this noon-time show host makes up for Manny Villar’s shifty eyes and monosyllabic speeches.
Trust is a word that we need to bring back into our system. We need an acceptable degree of transparency applied to the way we conduct our politics. The only way we can bring some semblance of trust is to ask our candidates what they plan to do once they are in office. The things they say will give us an idea of their trustworthiness. If they can promise something, at least we can hold them on those promises once they are in office. Be afraid of those who don’t even want to say anything because they think that no one is listening anyway, or those who just let their campaign managers and paid entourage do all the talking. They cannot be trusted.
Bear in mind that there are other candidates aside from Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar. If we have eliminated these two as untrustworthy, then we need to look at the other alternatives that are not afraid to say what they want and are not going to be push-overs once elected.