THERE is no mistaking this country is at the crossroads of its history. It is at the vortex of a developing crisis that maybe unprecedented in recent memory. Since August 26 this year, popular rallies are becoming more frequent, and nobody knows when or where this is going to lead. People are getting angrier by the day. They feel cheated or deceived by the very same people they have voted into office; by their very leaders they have invested their trust and high expectations on.
Three years ago, people were mesmerized by a socio-political drama that was cherished and crystallized by a campaign slogan “tuwid na daan” boosted by a popular belief that the standard bearer, Benigno Simeon Aquino, has inherited the relative integrity and heroism of his parents—consequently absolving and confining to oblivion a deficient track record and an inefficient past political performance in his home province. (Columnist Jojo Robles writes that the tagline “tuwid na daan” was a brainchild of a retired advertizing executive whose biggest success was in marketing a brand of fast-food fried chicken—and, therefore, was merely an advertisement, not a serious center-piece program of governance, like people were led to believe.)
But now big cracks are showing. Since the testimonies of Benhur Luy and the blunder of escorting of Napoles from Malacañang to Camp Crame by the president himself who is increasingly being mocked in social media as a double-faced “king of pork”, until the “bombshell exposé” of Senator Estrada at the senate floor and the half hazard coinage by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Jr., of the high-sounding “Disbursement Acceleration Program” (DAP), the erstwhile “straight path” popularity of the president is plummeting despite attempts of social surveys and Malacañang spinners to resurrect an old image.
While the gargantuan pork barrel anomalies among legislators and the executive department are problem enough, this DAP may actually be a tipping factor in the corruption saga of the Aquino administration; not to mention the Malampaya Funds which is a heavyweight that can bring down the powers that be if only the audit department will not be politicized. Former Senator Arroyo and Senator Santiago have both denounced the Palace for brewing a fund that is illegal since DAP is not authorized by law. To refute the justifications of the DAP by the budget Secretary, former National Treasurer Leonor Briones explained that the use of the savings of other agencies is prohibited, unless they are savings accumulated by the Office of the President itself.
People are now beginning to understand why the Palace was suddenly not interested with the legislation of the Freedom of Information Bill. Now people are getting clarified why Corona was immediately impeached or why the controversial Reproductive Health Bill was passed into law in a jiffy. Vote-buying is a scourge in Philippine politics. But how does one add up the highest office of the land buying votes and loyalties of the members of both houses of congress by dangling both the presidential and congressional pork which the Aquino administration has increased to unimaginable proportion? Really, a crisis is brewing.