LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency
The pettiness of the opposition
IT used to be that only monkeys have the habit of nit-picking. Before the advent of anti-tick powder and shampoo, it’s commonplace to see women helping each other in the arduous task of picking those pesky lice and nits in the long tresses of their hair. But nothing really beats a domesticated monkey in that tedious chore.
Nowadays we don’t see those rustic scenes anymore. Monkeys have evolved. The first and the last time I was in Thailand monkeys render labor as coconut harvester and are quite efficient at it.
They get “paid” too.
In the Philippines, however, not a few political Neanderthals have not graduated from nit-picking. Nearly everything that the government does a retinue of political opposition and their propaganda machinery is quick to find faults. The most recent of these is the absolute pardon granted by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to Joseph Scot Pemberton who was convicted and sentenced to serve a 10-year prison term for killing a transgender. For good conduct while in detention, the Regional Trial Court qualified him to be freed from prison on the basis of good conduct time allowance (GCTA). Amidst the furor, Duterte issued an absolute pardon to the US soldier. His decision stirred a hornet’s nest but somehow boomeranged when citizens recalled that the opposition patron saint Cory Aquino unceremoniously freed CPP-NPA Chieftain Jose Ma. Sison and other radical communist leaders from detention. His son, then Benigno Simeon Aquino III also granted the same executive clemency to six inmates. The ex-President also granted amnesty to mutineers led by Antonio Trillanes that wired explosives around the posh commercial center of Makati. So what’s the fuss?
And then came the dolomite issue. VP Leni Robredo dubs the project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources “insensitive”. She comes out with the usual populist crap saying the money could have fed 20,000 poor mouths for three months. Then came Rappler with its own usual way of tweaking facts describing the crushed dolomite rocks from Cebu as “Synthetic” sand. A horde of others became overnight geologists and environmental experts warning of the toxicity of dolomite and effects of dolomite “dust” on health. The last time I heard and read of dolomite was that it is used in agriculture to cure soil acidity and to address some environmental concerns as filling materials. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno who has no political baggage against the administration and perhaps knew what dolomite is issued a statement appreciating the efforts of DENR to further clean up and improve the condition of the country’s prime bay.
Oh yes for decades we endured the national shame and insults for converting Manila Bay into the country’s prime garbage dump. The Tourism Department had ceased using pictures of the magnificent Manila sunset viewed from the Bay.
For decades too, the idyllic and pastoral scene of the meandering Pasig River and its esteros and tributaries had become a dumping ground of human waste and industrial chemicals that “killed” the river. Lack of political will and sustained campaign to get rid of the problems did not wash. And now this administration of Duterte so hated by the opposition and sadly by the Church had revived Pasig and the bay including the esteros. In the riverbank near Guadalupe bridge hook-and-line fishermen have their catch indicating Pasig had been resuscitated.
We are confronted with complex problems arising from COVID-19. The government feeds not 20 thousand mouths but millions. Of course, there are bastards who misused the aid but that should not take the front seat issue. Robredo is so petty and so are her ilks. Sen. Bong Go, on the matter of corruption that bedevils Phil-Health, came out strongly – let the guilty go to jail but Phil-Health must continue to function to help those who need medical attention. Department of Finance Sec. Sonny Dominguez had assured that funds will be made available to address financial problems that may beset Phil-Health.
No, I do not think that this government will be paralyzed by the childish impertinence of the opposition. Like the revival of the grandeur of Pasig and the Manila Bay, the engines that rev our economy will soon be in full throttle. By then, the opposition will be eating dust in the race to recovery.