Situation normal

Many strange events are happening in our beloved country lately but they only show that our situation remains normal, and not abnormal as what some foreigners might conclude.

These events are taking place immediately before Oct. 12, the start of the weeklong period for filing of certificates of candidacy for our forthcoming presidential election in 2016.

First of these are the virtual announcements of four Bicolanos that they would run for the vice presidency.

But why are all three of the region’s macho senators and its most famous widow congresswoman—Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Antonio Trillanes and Leni Robredo—competing against each other?

All of them are probably dreaming of eventually becoming the first president from Bicol. And this could happen in 2022.

Congresswoman Leni may have realized that she could be the next widow after Cory Aquino who would be our president, too. After all, her late husband Jesse was  as popular and charismatic as Ninoy.

Our newfound interest or curiosity about Bicolano leaders was further fanned when the death in faraway US of the imminent human rights crusader Joker Arroyo—another Bicolano—was announced last Tuesday.

Two more senators—maverick Alan Peter Cayetano and Bongbong Marcos—have also announced their candidacy for the vice presidency. They then took turns flying to Davao City to urge its mayor, Digong Duterte, to run for the presidency, hoping they would be chosen as his running mate.

They must have succeeded because the once-reluctant presidential timber of Mindanao eventually announced last Wednesday that he would formally declare his candidacy tomorrow.

Congressman Manny Pacquiao, the people’s champ, didn’t miss the announcement bandwagon. He, too, declared that he is running—thankfully not for the vice presidency—but for the Senate.

Unexpectedly, we have been shown, too, what could have been the Liberal Party’s secret “gold and girls” campaign strategy: bikini-clad Playgirls. But to the horror of its leaders, the video coverage of these Playgirls dancing bawdily to entertain party mates and supporters was uploaded in the Internet.

It went viral immediately and angry reactions from netizens surged like a tsunami.  One by one, LP leaders had to deny any involvement but they failed in convincing us that it was that easy to gatecrash their parties and sabotage them.

The scandal has necessitated the postponement of the party’s announcement of its senatorial slate, from which was removed last Wednesday the fall guy who absorbed all of the blame —Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino.

But the ones who are disappointing us pensioners the most are past and present Senate Presidents Johnny Enrile and Frank Drilon who are opposing in tandem the P2,000 Social Security pension adjustment that Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares has labored to get approved at the lower house.

Would his proposal have passed had he not declared prematurely his senatorial bid?

As if reciprocating, Speaker Sonny Belmonte’s House of Representatives is also junking Senator Sonny Angara’s proposal to lower the income tax rate despite his revelation that it has become Asia’s highest.

Some of these strange events are not election-related. Notable is Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa’s four-day suspension from Nov. 17 to 20 of work in all government agencies at the National Capital Region during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting.

Unmindful that these work suspensions reduce our private sector’s productivity and global competitiveness, he did so as if PNoy’s earlier declaration of Nov. 18 and 19 as special non-working days was not enough.

Moreover, they result in hardship for our people who need immediate government services, for instance, social security funeral benefits.

These work suspensions are intended to reduce the volume of traffic when workers go to and fro their work and when the public commutes to highly centralized government offices to avail of public service or obtain permits and licenses.

As gracious hosts, the PNoy administration officials must have wanted to spare the Apec delegates the horrendous traffic conditions and conveniently hide their failure to address them.

They must have also thought that hosting the Apec Leaders’ Meeting would be a timely opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of his “Daang Matuwid” administration. Indeed, it has earned a few praises from the international community.

But little do they realize that our country’s shortcomings could also be exposed to the international experts and media persons who would come with the 21 Apec leaders. They would find ways of knowing our unadulterated unemployment rate and poverty incidence. This administration has failed to significantly reduce them.

For sure, huge crowds would assemble to stage rallies and demonstrations to expose and even magnify the country’s true conditions.

In the first place, the Apec delegates should not have agreed to the unnecessary four-day suspension of government service. They are not in the same stellar category as that of Pope Francis and they know too well the huge productivity losses that would result from the suspension.

During the Apec Leaders’ Meeting, delegates would experience abnormally smooth rides in our traffic-free roads. Once they leave, we would be back to our normally rough rides in our traffic-congested roads.

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