THE ANGRY MIDDLE CLASS: A MAJORITY UN-SILENCED


MANILA, SEPTEMBER 23, 2013
(PHILSTAR) GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc - If not for the grace of God, the precision of my eye surgeon, Dr. Tony Tumbocon, and anesthesiologists, Drs. Edwina Cua, Romel Almoro, Jocelynn Reyes, and the prayers of loved ones and even strangers – whew! – I’d be blind by now.

I underwent three operations in 11 days to save my vision from a grave complication. Glaucoma, of which the public is largely unaware, is a rampant condition I have made a personal mission to warn people about.

That’s why every year on World Sight Day, the second Thursday of October (Oct. 10 this 2013), I write about eye care and the potential irreparability of neglecting it.

It’s tough, costly to have eye illness. Thankfully recovering fast from terrifying total darkness, I am now re-able to read and type, with strain. Momentary depression quickly was blown away by congratulators for a prestigious award. It feels great to be back.

One time or another you’ve been asked philosophically: If forced to give up one of your five senses, which would you sacrifice?

Most respondents shudder at the thought of losing eyesight, though many also can’t imagine being without hearing, smell, taste, or touch.

The exercise on physical faculties invariably leads to a sixth, non-material feeling: love. That ethereal sense is what makes us want to please God, serve humanity, and tend to the family. Because of it we value the world and the self as one whole. Love eases sadness, fear and fatigue, bolsters resolve, and makes us happy – the essence of each person.

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Yahoo Southeast Asia Newsroom Photo By Billy Jane Ramos - Joey and Mylene Casimiro take their daughters Anika and Alessi to a different learning experience in Luneta - an anti-pork rally denouncing the grave misue of lawmakers' PDAF (priority development assistance fund).

Let not the political elite underestimate the simmering situation.

Citizens are raging against the rotten political system. The multibillion-peso plunder of pork barrels is but one of their intertwined grievances. Certain to be put up next are issues for true service to – not control, neglect, and abuse of – the people by elected officials.

For condemnation – and overhaul – are dynastic politics, farcical elections, and continuing joblessness, hunger, homelessness, and under-education.

Not the pork barrel per se but the impunity with which politicos pocket it has radicalized the people.Every major event is now blamed or correlated to pork misuse.

Why do homes get flooded and people drown by the hundreds from typhoons each year?

Because each year too P27 billion goes to congressional and P45 billion to presidential self-aggrandizing pork, instead of truly beneficial projects.

Why do ten million bright Filipinos, a tenth of the population, have to work abroad?

Because the political class cares not about growing the economy, but only about cheating in elections to get their hands on P200 million a year per senator, P70 million per congressman, and countless more per local official.

How can China just grab unopposed oil- and food-rich Philippine shoal after shoal?

Because one year’s congressional pork that could have purchased 41 frigates went instead to condos, SUVs, and jewelries of politicos and pork facilitators like Janet Lim Napoles.

Citizens can see through the alibis of politicos to hold on to their pork slabs.

Take for instance such statements as, “If we lawmakers don’t have a say in budget allocations, then we might as well abolish Congress,” or “If they take away our pork, then the masa should stop asking us for favors,” or “It is not our job to ascertain whether the beneficiary NGOs and projects are bogus.”

If the politicos keep repeating those, they just might get the abolition they wish for. And, be branded as hifalutin lawyers who were taken for a ride by radio-technician Napoles.

The elitist politicos are adept at dealing with the ignorant poor. Those are whom they fool with short-lived pleasures – baptismal-wedding-burial donations, snacks on Election Day – in exchange for dynastic political reign. If just the political elite and the lower class exist, they can perhaps continue to live off each other forever.

But there’s no ignoring the middle class – a middle force of thinking Filipinos: students, professionals, and intellectuals.

Among them are readers of this column. They bear the tax burden – 65 percent of total collections, by their sheer number – and so know their political clout.

Their taxes run the government, and pay the pork of politicos and salaries of bureaucrats. They dictate the nation’s direction.

Middle classes too rose in protest in the Occupy Movements in North America and youth riots in London and Paris in 2011.

As well, in huge demonstrations in Sweden, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia this 2013. Worldwide the middle sectors are clashing with democratically elected but unresponsive governments. Local politicos might still be ruing how much pork billions they’d be losing in a reformed political setting.

But they had better accept the global trend – and repent.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com



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