Sincerity and optimism. These were the traits I admired most about our leader when he took the stage on July 22, 2013 to deliver his 4th state of the nation address at the Batasan Pambansa Complex. Initially, I wasn’t very keen on watching what I expected to be a long monologue peppered with statistics and isolated yet exaggerated government achievements. True enough, I wasn’t disappointed, but what really struck me was when Pnoy began his speech by addressing us as his bosses. This is when I let go of my cynicism because before me was no longer a distant president surrounded by a cabinet who treated poverty like theory. Instead, I saw a humble man who was down here with us and honest enough to admit that he had neither all the answers nor all the solutions to our country’s problems but a firm desire to cleanse the government of corruption. The remarkable thing about Pnoy is that he is one of the very few presidents who have truly crafted around their respective intentions. Unlike several of his predecessors who have used their flowery platforms as mere tools to attain power, Noynoy took his commitment seriously as seen in the recent weeding out of corrupt officials from various departments of the government such as the incompetent Bureau of Immigration which has failed to properly monitor our ports, the lazy NIA which has proven to be the epitome of mediocrity and of course, the infamous Bureau of Customs which made a huge profit from habitually turning a blind eye to contraband. Through his bold actions, Noynoy has proven that he has the genuine political will to turn this ship around towards progress, but how do we respond? Instead of being the wind that propels his sails forward, we shoot hundreds of holes in it with no intention of covering them up. He said so himself that he couldn’t achieve these changes alone yet we continue to criticize the man who is trying to fix the mess we have left behind from our haphazard and incompetent voting. Lately, I’ve been quite disheartened at the vicious cycle we elect our leaders. It begins when most Filipinos champion an aspiring candidate believing that he is some sort of messiah sent to save us from poverty. When he eventually wins, his image as the immaculate conception, born without sin, is gradually tarnished by allegations of corruption whether or not they are true. To top it off, unsatisfied people take to the streets to relive that faithful day in EDSA for the nth time before they call their next unsuspecting victim their president! It’s truly disappointing because with this cycle, no self-respecting individual would want to lead the country. Who would run the risk of being treated like a saint one day then a demon the next? I know! Noynoy, because he gives a damn about this country and is not concerned with the impossible task of pleasing everybody. One example is how he addressed those who are nagging the government to develop our armed forces. He assured them that although this is definitely on their to-do list, it is not their number one priority as of the moment because of more urgent concerns. According to him, one fighter jet, exclusive of fuel and artillery, would cost 1.58 billion pesos while a squadron of these would cost 37.92 billion pesos. The trade off of buying even just one jet would be 6,850 houses for our police force or 2000 classrooms for our children. Are we really willing to sacrifice housing and the quality of education just to be called the new bad-ass of Asia? No. Another example is how Noynoy is pushing for increased MRT and LRT fares despite the expected angry mob to follow. Come to think of it, there will be an angry mob anyway because people will be paying more for the government’s subsidy of MRT/LRT fares through their taxes. For Pnoy, increasing the fares would unburden the government from its subsidy expenses and allow them to allocate the saved resources for other social services. So should we cut Noynoy some slack considering his immensely difficult job of cleaning out the scum of the government and making sure all our needs are met at the same time? I think so, because if we don’t trust him to do it, why did we vote him in the first place? The recent sona presents more than just the government’s progress reports, achievements and projections. It presents us a choice between being part of the solution or being part of the problem. We can only be part of the solution if we stay informed, observant, and critical about our political and economical environment so that when Pnoy steps down, we will be able to properly discern the next leader who will build on the foundation that he has laid out for us.
– Sebastian Angelo Q. Villanoy