Ever since I became a close-in reporter at the Palace (during three presidents) I have noticed a singular pattern in how they exit—They all paint a rosy picture of their administrations, a legacy statement for people to remember them by.
In the time of Fidel V. Ramos, the legacy he drummed up on was the economic recovery—from the steady downturn of the economy during his predecessor marked by power blackouts that made economic recovery next to impossible because no business could operate without electricity.
During the time of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the drum roll was for the huge and stable economic upswing—despite her introduction of the huge unpopular value added tax—that brought stability despite the Asian economic crisis and the global financial crisis that followed it.
And then in the time of Joseph Estrada (which I did not finish as I left on his second year and he was ousted and replaced by GMA the following year after I left) the accolade was for his bringing the outlawed Abu Sayyaf to its knees and his fighting rebellion in Mindanao.
And now, months before the Duterte administration would bow out, the same economic theme is being played daily in the newspapers by the economic team, with the National Economic and Development Authority beating the loudest drum.
There is nothing wrong with highlighting the good deeds of an administration—but in the face of massive unemployment (that seems to be corrected only in the numbers presented by NEDA), homelessness, hunger and poverty and the continuing scourge of COVID-19 it seems highly misplaced to be pounding loudly on our chest and to cry out our accomplishments.
For many people, it would sound like pure and simple publicity stunt and press release. For the others, it would be a useful campaign slogan that succeeding administrations must pursue in earnest. If at all they would.
As a journalist, I have no choice but to write such accolades for the Duterte administration—even if I do not fully appreciate its veracity—because that would make my news agency look like often being scooped and left out.
But believe me, each time I write about these praise releases, it makes my stomach grumble and my brain bleed from what I believe as untruths.
If only the administration would be honest enough to admit its faults and shortcomings, maybe I would better appreciate its honesty better and understand what causes such shortcomings. But no, it is even adamant to accept the truth and defends whatever mistakes and pitfalls it had gone through with excuses and justifications. This reviles me.
They tell us inflation is in check—why don’t they go themselves to the wet markets, groceries and retail outlets and see just how food prices have become unreachable to many people. Consumers are making do with whatever their budgets can afford and forego most of the items that they used to buy because they do not have funds for these.
There are stories about people being killed needlessly. Take the case of the relatives of a photojournalist—Rhoy Cobilla, whose cousin and his entire family were massacred right inside their house in the Bicol region by an identified Army private first class and the latter’s brother. Still no arrests after more than two weeks. Whatever brought this military man to massacre an entire family is incomprehensible.
The anti-drugs campaign has not placed any big fish to jail and conviction because those arrested before had found a way to escape.
The corruption drive is nothing but another propaganda piece because those stealing people’s money and plundering the coffers are merely out there—some of them at the front lines of the current election season. Many are even seeking reelection.
What I really want to see from hereon are not propaganda pieces but agenda which the candidates must embrace completely and see to their adoption, once elected.
So far, the circus has shown us only movement and machinations of personalities whose only goal is to stay in power and influence to shield themselves from criminal prosecution here and abroad.
When I was a kid, I always loved watching circuses and clowns. But now the real clowns (politicians) are making me sick to my bones.