It was a yell without a sound. But its reverb vibrates loudly.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo addressed the members of the legislative with her hands circling her mouth. She shouted something inaudible to those who were watching on television or online because the microphones were shut off. Her mysterious speech sends a strong message though no words were heard. The image brings back memories of how she was declared winner of the 2004 presidential election against the late Fernando Poe Jr.
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No one, except for the majority of elected officials in Congress, saw this coming. The events that led to her first oath as House Speaker generated more drama than that in House of Cards or that of a primetime teleserye. The gesture was deemed invalid for the mace of the House of Representatives was not in sight. Despite that, the damage has been done. A stand-off for the fourth-highest public service position in the land ensued even if esteemed guests from the diplomatic corps are present.
The day after, the front act was more talked about than the main attraction. Much conversation is spent on the cunning move that Arroyo and her allies pulled off. It took away the attention from what was supposed to be the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. The enactment of the framework for lasting unity in Mindanao was derailed by the division of those who are supposed to lead us.
The SONA itself became anti-climactic given the dramatic turn of events. But even though the issue has been settled after Arroyo was officially sworn in, a lot of questions remain. How then can we trust them to put our interests first when they can’t even wait after the SONA to execute theirs? How are we supposed to get badly needed laws when they can’t even agree on who should occupy the rostrum? More importantly, why do we seem to forget history?
NBN-ZTE deal, fertilizer fund scam, PCSO fund scam, “Hello Garci” controversy. These are just some of the anomalies that beset the Arroyo presidency. A recent report from the Commission of Audit states that over PHP 101 billion were lost due to misuse of public funds during her administration. There was a glimmer of hope when she was charged but she was put on hospital arrest due to her failing health. Controversies and all, she was elected congresswoman in her home province.
Text Book Scam, Philippine-Taiwan Air Agreement Controversy, Midnight Cabinet, Jueteng Scandal. Some of the issues that riddled the presidency of Joseph Ejercito Estrada. He was thrown out of power via People Power and Arroyo was sworn in as her replacement. He was initially jailed in Camp Crame and eventually, Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. Yet, he survived and became mayor of the City of Manila.
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And we thought being Philippine President should be the pinnacle of their public service careers. Instead, they have fortified themselves against persecution. But, these could have been prevented if we did not cast our vote for them. So, before we ask for change or progress, are we progressing in our own way? By progressing, do we actively do our part in correcting the mistakes of the past in any form or capacity we can?
This is the real state of the nation we must address.
Let us not forget that before we became professionals, students, activists, marginalized, public servants, or staunch supporters of a politician, we are Filipinos. For matters of public interest, let’s put the welfare of our country first. Let’s ask ourselves, “Will this really help improve the Philippines”? From the simplest task of filing government paperwork to choosing the officials who will lead us, never forget to examine your motives. After all, the strength of our nation depends in all of us.
If enough of us do this, we can sound that yell of change. A change that is not a stop-gap solution to deeply-rooted problems. Rather, a change that echoes to all Filipinos and vibrates for sustainable prosperity. Oh, how sweet that sound would be.