If you’ve ever tried building a house of cards, perhaps even challenging yourself to use the entire deck of fifty-two (52), then you’ve probably realized how frustrating and exasperating it is. Even the slightest movement will cause the entire structure to collapse. You’ve got to have a very steady hand to make sure that the upper layers don’t upset the base. You pray and hope that no wind comes in, and that certainly no big bad wolf huffs and puffs at it in one way or another.
Simply put, a house of cards is a structure that is considered unstable, and is in danger of collapsing or falling. The cards, because of their flat shape, cannot stand on their own. Adding more cards to the structure without strengthening the base makes it more liable to collapse; the cards are not designed to support a very large amount of mass and withstand its corresponding pressure.
That in a nutshell describes the Philippines and what its society has evolved to today – a house of cards.
President Aquino’s case against former president Gloria Arroyo is flimsy
Let’s start by magnifying our microscope and zooming in to the entity currently at the helm of Philippine society. For lack of better words, President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino (PNoy) is most likely going ape shit ballistic now that former President and “big evil” Gloria Arroyo (GMA) has been released on bail. Apparently, the evidence of electoral sabotage against her was insufficient to keep her in jail. His government has another set of charges though. This time they are charging her with plunder from the PCSO along with nine (9) other heads. As of this writing, the arrest and all other proceedings related to this case are suspended.
PNoy has built his anti-entire corruption upon the tagline ”kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. If corruption goes away, poverty will. Thus we get two (2) primary assumptions on why PNoy is obsessed with putting GMA behind bars:
1) Gloria and associates are the biggest practitioners of corruption, and;
2) Corruption and poverty will go away if Gloria and her associates are put away.
The first assumption is by itself hard to prove. The electoral fraud charges didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of Pasay Regional Trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas in the first place because Norie Unas’ testimony couldn’t be corroborated, yet PNoy Aquino insists that the testimony by and of itself is absolutely reliable. It is an educated guess that the electoral fraud charge is the Aquino government’s strongest case against GMA. Nonetheless, since the entire case hinged on Unas’ “overhearing” GMA command a 12-0 in Maguindanao without anyone to corroborate it, then it is valid to say that this case was a house of cards waiting to collapse. Mupas blew the house down like the big bad wolf, and to BS Aquino, that is absolutely unacceptable. Is Mupas perhaps the next judge to be on PNoy’s chopping block?
Why focus on the nine year term of Arroyo as president, when perhaps we can take a step back and actually think, just exactly how big Arroyo’s alleged “corruption” is compared to other government officials of eras past? Is PNoy conveniently forgetting that corruption in government had already existed before Arroyo’s time? Yes, that includes even the tenure of his dead mother Cory. That includes the time of Marcos, Ramos, Erap, Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Macapagal, Quezon, Laurel, Osmeña, and Garcia. How many other people have been corrupt, and to what degree? How does it compare with Arroyo’s alleged “corruption”? Exactly how many corruption cases have ever even resulted in a conviction with convincing evidence? And how exactly do you measure corruption in an individual objectively, anyway? One needs to come up with irrefutable proof, not just hearsay. It’s not what you feel or know, it’s what you can prove in court. And no, it’s not guilty until proven innocent; it’s the other way around.
If PNoy’s band of merry men can’t answer even these basic questions, then their first assumption has already been pulled out from under them.
Ever since the jailing of Gloria, did corruption and poverty indeed go away? No, there are still people who bloat project costs, who pocket government funds for their own, and there are still people living in unfavorable conditions not only all over the metro, but in other parts of the country. So much for the second assumption.
You don’t even have to have a highfaluting degree to figure out that even if you take the phrase ”kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” by itself, you can deduce that the reverse actually makes more sense. “Kung walang mahirap, walang corrupt.” People become corrupt because they are desperate to uplift their status in life by any means necessary. They see the need to do undesirable things, such as steal, embezzle, and extort, because they need the money, and benefits that come with it. Screw the law, screw the government, they haven’t been able to help me. Only then does PNoy’s slogan make more sense, because by then it becomes a vicious cycle of people taking advantage of each other. And boy, are Pinoys ever good at looking for the “one-up” that they can use over their own countrymen. Once again, I emphasize, that PNoy’s “guiding philosophy” of anti-poverty cannot stand on its own. All that time that Gloria was in jail and poverty and corruption are still did not go away, and every day that goes by and Arroyo is out of jail: there are gusts of wind that blow Aquino’s anti-corruption and anti-poverty house of cards down.
President Aquino’s government is inherently unstable
When we zoom out a bit from how the Aquino government handled GMA’s case, we zero in on PNoy’s government from the time he became President. We find that we are looking at yet another house of cards. Two years into his term, and his anti-corruption and anti-poverty “platform” has yet to have any real impact. Aquino took credit for any and all work started by his predecessor yet he continued to blame her for “leaving his government nothing to work with.” He gave undeserved praise to his loyal constituents. He trumpeted small accomplishments without painting a bigger, brighter road map of the future for us. He continued to cancel projects simply because they were started by his predecessor. He has been leading us into a possible armed conflict scenario with China, all because he has not shown adequate diplomatic skills.
In other words, he continues to do nationally non-beneficial things, to find every excuse not to do something of his own accord and to parade as his own all successes not attributable to him. It’s all in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2012. As an accompaniment, try reading this excellent dissection of the accompanying technical report, done by Ben Kritz.
Presidents, as representatives of the people, are faced with the enormous task of bringing his/her countrymen, even those who don’t agree with him/her, together towards one single purpose and vision of the future. To make it sound more formal, it’s like building a house with a strong foundation. PNoy would have a much easier time doing this if he had statesman and leadership skills. Has PNoy been doing well? I didn’t see him do that well with GMA or with former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Instead of respecting the Judiciary as a co-equal branch of government he sneers and throws tantrums every time they make a decision he does not agree with. How does he deal with his critics? Does he give them the time of day in answering and allaying their concerns? He pretends he doesn’t even hear them, or worse, he humiliates them in public! Keeping mum about Budget Secretary Butch Abad’s statement of denial of pork barrel to non-allies is not exactly something a leader should be doing, too.
A recent example of how he deals with “unfavorable people” showed him delivering harsh words about Noli de Castro on TV Patrol’s 25th anniversary. Mr. President, giving your critics the finger and generally acting in a manner unbecoming of a statesman will not unite your people. Worse, it serves to shake the foundation of your term, where it must be built on good leadership and a uniting vision for the future. Is that too much to ask?
Recall the words of Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” BS Aquino is merely accelerating and reinforcing the process which Pinoys are naturals at: being disunited, usually over the smallest and most trivial of things.
Filipino society rests on a shaky foundation
The Philippine economy, despite PNoy’s claims that it is doing well, continues to be dependent on overseas foreign worker (OFW) remittances. What will happen to our economy if the conditions of where they are currently employed change? What will happen if they suddenly get up and one day and are asked to go home? Is our economy ready to support them? Our economy, and society, would crash. There is not enough work for all the citizens based here, much less for the sudden influx of kababayans coming home.
Is Filipino society an inherently unfair one? We expect the minority who are well-off to support the majority who are not. Remember the characteristic of a single playing card: it is thin, and cannot stand on its own. Our society encourages a sense of entitlement in its people. Pinoys like to believe that they deserve all the help that they can get because they are always a victim of circumstances. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has put it best: Malays are prone to take the easy way out. Remember that the native Bumiputra of Malaysia and Filipinos descend from the same people.
Pinoy pride is one of the biggest and flimsiest houses of cards I have ever seen. It is held up by the flimsy premise that something is great just because it is Filipino. Ah basta! We continue to brandish Charice, Manny, Lea, and Jessica, to name a few, as symbols of Pinoy Pride, yet we continuously fail and forget to do anything to apply the secrets behind their success to our own lives. Once Pinoy pride becomes exposed as hollow (and more often than not, it is), the whole structure, and not to mention the face of the Pinoy, has just fallen apart.
Even if we build a house of cards, we as Pinoys are still bound by the limitations of the playing card. If there is too much weight and pressure on the people who support the top layers, then certainly the entire structure would come crashing down!
How do we overcome all this? How do you convince a Filipino that teaching him how to fish is much better than continuously giving him food? How do we make the transition from being a house of cards to a house of bricks that even the big bad wolf will not be able to huff and puff at and blow down?
Real change begins at the bottom of the Filipino society. The inherent cultural character has to evolve, and Filipinos have to learn from the mistakes of the past. Are we ready to undertake the arduous task of rebuilding a nation that has been neck deep in dirt for so long? Are we ready to work together as a nation to build up the cultural substance so that we will no longer be flat and thin like playing cards? Or are we still obsessed with our celebrities and with gambling our live away in card games?
And that is why we as a society have to reemphasize the thinking part in ourselves. Why waste the time to build a house of cards which is flimsy, and is frankly, all for show? Why not instead design a house of a sturdy material, with substance, and then build it up with your own hands? That way we can be truly proud of what we will build.
Noynoy Aquino happens to be the ultimate embodiment of everything wrong with the Pinoy, yet ultimately presidents matter little in the grand scheme of things. He’s not the cure all to our ills in society; we ourselves are. Forget about Noynoy and allow him to fiddle while Rome burns; we should be busy putting the fire out ourselves.