Friday ∗ 07 Jul 2017

Welcome to hell

If there’s anything we’ve lost the past year, it’s a sense of propriety and order, of just common sense about what the role is of government and our officials when it comes to speaking to the populace. Sure Daang Matuwid had its own share of communications foibles, and yes they were elitist through and through.

And yet the same might be said of the Duterte government, especially his men, who speak with utter carelessness, and then demand us all to see that they were merely being “taken out of context.” See here likes the problem with these times: we have allowed government officials to get away with insisting that everything’s a matter of opinion, never mind right and wrong.

Case in point: Budget Secretary Ben Diokno has promised “hell” given the government’s infrastructure program.

“Things will get worse, before they get better, because with all the construction that we will do, it will be like hell,” Diokno said in his remarks during the Tax Reform Forum in Mandaluyong City.

“But rest assured that your government is acting urgently to address this situation,” he noted.

Yet as it is, in the past year we have not felt at all that the government is “acting urgently” given the traffic crisis. Where a war has been waged against drugs and terror, there is no war against incompetence. There is no sense at all in fact, that this government is aware of what has brought about this crisis in traffic: the unbridled enterprise of acquiring cars to transform into Uber and Grab services, never mind that this means even more congestions on our roads, be it major highways or minor streets.

During Daang Matuwid, it was clear that to some extent what was celebrated was the purchasing power of the populace, seen as a measure of development, just like heavy traffic. But Duterte had promised to be different, and had eschewed elitism time and again.

And yet this notion that an infrastructure program is what we need, never mind that it will mean raising taxes, going deeper into debt, and well, making the people suffer in more “hell” than we already are in, just reeks of a disregard for the people, our exhaustion, our lack of productivity, given this state of affairs.

So yes, maybe Diokno was just being honest, and wanting us to prepare. But no: there is no excuse for putting us through more hell, in already hellish Philippines. And sure that surveys says otherwise, but it won’t take long and even that survey will be disproved by a populace that will suffer the consequences of the anti-people policies of Duterte’s men.

Imagine the kind of people we become when we’re put in the hell that Diokno promises.


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