EARTH DAY FOLLIES
Its Earth Day this April and this country has a lot of sins to confess to Mother Nature. In Asia alone, it has the poorest forest cover. Its mineral resources have been allowed to be exploited and pre-meditatedly explored not by its own people but by neighboring forces. The country has the finest aggregates, the finest gold, the finest hardwood trees, the finest steel, the finest fossil fuel, etc. which local officials would negotiate from other countries for its exploitation. Result: the local official personally becomes prosperous but his region is browbeaten from its native wealth. Countries where our natural resources are delivered become rich while we become poorer by the day. An ordinary transaction looks like this. For example, Taiwan imports raw hardwood from the Philippines. It is exported back to the Philippines as a finished product. Raw materials are bought, say at one peso and sold back at one thousand pesos. That is timidity. But all self respecting Filipino will not admit to that. They all feel more superior and wiser like a beggar in the street corner who expects alms thrown at him because he believes that people owe him money!
NPA forces in western Mindanao engaged the convoy carrying Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona and sprayed it with bullets and explosives for ignoring the rebel check point. The barricade was actually a control feature in the enforcement of “revolutionary taxes” and other conditions from candidates who wanted to travel and campaign in so-called rebel territories. The rebel check point may have been a good “law enforcement” approach complimenting the deficient muscle of government police personnel against criminal elements but when it is directed to compel some people to come across then it is pure banditry and up close a criminal act.
To a certain extent, rebellion in the countryside, at times expressed in protests and outward discontent by a minority, is tolerated and even understood in the context of democratic principles as long as it never transgress or violate the rights of others. In most instances, it is even encouraged to promote check and balance. Allowing the submission of dissatisfaction is not an act of surrender. Although it may for some interpreted as a weakness, it signifies also some strengths. A dynamic community has a constituency that is critical and discriminating. If that happens, then progress is not far behind. If we have a community where people are subservient, where discontent is a rebel quality, hidden and sustained only in the hills, then that community would remain backward, insecure and unstable.
In Japan, when a government official is humiliated either he resigns from his post or he commits seppuku (a Jap ritualistic term for suicide). Here in the Philippines, the official is contented on announcing resignation only but it is just that, an announcement. After taking the people for the ride, he gets back as if nothing happened.
It is really funny that some respectable personalities running for public office are sometimes drawn into some kind of crazy beliefs. They believe that the more leaflets, the more banners, the more convoys , the bigger and colorful their tarps , the more voters are lured to elect them. The more handshakes, the more smiles bounced back, the more people trucked in, the more followers paid to elicit avidity, the more convincing the possibility of winning. Of course, this is the usual and traditional formula. The more visible, the better. But the convincing and sure-fire formula is: the more exposed to public service is better than tons of election paraphernalia.