THE LATE Lyndon B. Johnson may be among the least quoted of the former US Presidents. But listen to him when he said this: “To be genuinely funny at a time when the world is in crisis is a task that would tax the talents of a genius; to be consistently fair when standards of fair play are constantly questioned demands the wisdom of a saint.”
Now in the embattled Philippines where everything seems not working right, we find so many geniuses and saints sulking in silence while our own leaders continue to insult our intelligence and moral standards. Look at how our legislators ousted a shameless lapdog for a speaker to be replaced by someone whom almost everyone had called a cheat and a liar, aside from having her confined for some time for a very serious crime. Isn’t that funny and sad all at the same time?
Now we are looking at ourselves like we can do nothing but wait for some miracles to happen. Public demonstrations and outrage on the streets no longer seem as alarming as they were before such that those whom they assailed and whose effigies they have burned remain standing, throwing their weight around and showing no remorse for what their sins had done to our nation.
And because the President has the penchant to cuss and curse, make promises and feel no accountability to what he is saying, his alter egos, meaning those in the corridors of power with him that include cabinet secretaries, advisers, and cabals, should as well be expected to be talking and looking stupid even if the matter is of high public interest.
Take for example Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who, without batting an eyelash, said that our country is still in control of the 9 islands in the West Philippine Sea where China had built military fortresses. But in fact, in those fortresses no ordinary Filipino fisherman could ever enter – not even for a brief moment of rest after having scoured the wide ocean for fish that he could sell when he motors his long way back home to Bataan, Zambales or Pangasinan.
Lorenzana made such insensitive remarks after a Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey showed that 87 percent, or about 9 of 10 adult Filipinos, believe it was important to regain control of the Chinese-held islands in the West Philippine Sea. He explained that what China reclaimed were several underwater reefs that are now islands which the Chinese built there for their own purpose and so nothing was taken from us. Hah! The reefs become somebody else’s because he built structures on it even when such territory was not his.
Meanwhile, the Batasan that the Marcoses built out of a forest land has once again turned into a fertile ground for yearlong circus that nobody wants to watch, not even the poor squatters whose eyes look blankly around its impressive compound. For they have seen enough and want nothing but food on their table and, if God allows, small change to keep them alive. In fairness, the President’s last State of the Nation Address was only better because of the absence of expletives and cuss words in his oration. But nothing more significant followed. Yes, there was nothing new in the President’s SONA except that what probably stuck most in his audience’s minds was his repeated vow to step up the war against illegal drugs with more ‘chilling’ effects.
Perhaps it would take more time, more lives, and more taxpayers’ money to be pocketed before the people will finally rise and demand real change. But first, we must work to regain our image as a proud and respectable nation whose leader or president should be the opposite of what we have now.