EMIL JURADO: NOTHING CHANGES IN THIS COUNTRY

MANILA, MAY 10, 2013 (MANILA STANDARD) By By Emil Jurado - I love re-telling this story days before election day, in the wake of all the campaign promises we are hearing from the candidates.

There was this man who died and found himself before St. Peter at the pearly gates of heaven.

When St. Peter asked him where he would like to go, the man naturally said he’d like to enter heaven. St. Peter told him that he still had a choice between heaven and hell. They would go on a tour first to help the man make up his mind. St. Peter took the man to an elevator and down they went, to hell.

When the elevator door opened, the man was greeted by somebody in a suit who said he’d love to tour him around hell.

The man was surprised to see a feast, with men and plenty of beautiful women around. Everybody seemed happy and contented.

Then it was St. Peter’s turn to show the man around. There were no feasts, no beautiful girls, only people floating on clouds and playing the harp.

When St. Peter asked the man if he had made up his mind, the man chose hell.

So he went down the elevator again. This time, it was Lucifer who greeted him, and dragged him around the place where he saw people being tortured and crying out in pain.

When the man asked why this scenario was different from what hell was like when he first saw it, Lucifer said: Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted.

***

Nothing much has changed in our politics—just the names and faces.

We still have political violence, vote buying, dynasties.

Likewise, there is the usual criticism on the precinct count optical scan machines. Many say these can be manipulated, and thus fraud will be institutionalized.

People around President Aquino insist that his mantra “tuwid na daan” has brought changes to our country.

But just look at Customs. Smuggling remains unabated.

Worse, the people we elect to office will just continue to make promises that they cannot fulfill.

You might say I am a pessimist. But in my more than 50 years as a journalist, I think I have seen it all.

***

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes tells us that they have asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to put a cap on cash withdrawals, between now and election day, to avoid vote-buying.

This shows just how out of touch the Comelec is with reality.

Vote-buying is a fact. It is like Comelec is closing the barn door after the horses have gotten away.

There are reports that Malacañang is giving every barangay captain at least P10,000 to ensure votes for Team Pnoy. There are also reports that the husband of a rich Team Pnoy candidate promised local leaders P100,000 apiece to make sure his wife gets elected.

Candidates supply breakfast, lunch and dinner to voters on election day. Plus, all means of transportation are also being prepared to ferry voters from far-flung places to voting booths.

And the Comelec thinks it can stop all these. How naïve!

The BSP and the banks have good reason to resist this Comelec move. It’s illegal and in restraint of trade. People have the right to withdraw as much money as they want, Santa Banana! It’s their own money!

***

I admit that the economy has become resurgent and that foreign investors now think that the Philippines is no longer a joke. Look at all the credit upgrades we have been getting from ratings agencies.

But the problem is that while big businesses have been enriching themselves and banks are now awash with cash, the poverty level remains dismal with so many Filipinos remaining jobless.

True, it takes time for economic progress to trickle down to the poor. Yes, we see construction everywhere. But the administration does not seem to realize that our growth is fueled by consumer spending and services, not by manufacturing and agriculture.

What we need most are incentives for foreign investors. There have been plans to lift the economic restrictions in the 1987 Constitution. It seems that the President is saying, why amend the Constitution? The investors are coming, anyway!

That’s just baloney. Our President is too attached to the Constitution that was framed during his late mother’s time.
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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