The coming of a new year gives us the chance to review the year that is soon to end. Here is my list of the best and the worse of the year 2010:
1. GMA ceased to the President- What good news for those who could not last another day of an Arroyo presidency! While all the malaise of Philippine society persists, it is still a relief that the little nasty one ceased to be the most powerful official in our land. There were of course last minute scares associated with automated failure of elections and a an attempt at a Charter Change that many suspected would morph her into a prime minister. But all these did not happen- not for lack of trying, but simply because the Filipinos would have none of it.
2. Noynoy is President- Yup; he only comes in as the second best for 2010. Why? Well, it’s because people hated GMA more than they actually liked him. The elections, after the cf cards of the PCOS machines were changed at the absolute last minute, was simply a referendum: GMA if you’re a masochist, or Noynoy if you want change- full stop. As a last minute and as a reluctant candidate, P Noy simply stood on a platform of honesty in government. Perhaps, when we find the time and energy to criticize him for anything and everything he has or has not been doing, we should remind ourselves that his only promise was to be an honest President. Let’s judge him on this basis.
3. An enacted 2011 budget in December of 2010- We have forgotten that the primary task of our congressmen is not to make 20% from their pork barrel, but primarily to ensure that no public funds is spent without consent of the people. “ No taxation without representation” was the battle cry of the English revolution that ushered in modern day representative democracy. And yet, in the nine years of our recent dark ages, an Arroyo controlled Congress was absolutely remiss in its single most important function. GMA liked it when her Congress was remiss because a reenacted budget meant that she had trillions of pesos to spend as she wished.
4. Leila De Lima is DOJ Secretary- Who would have thought that this humble, unassuming and quiet election lawyer would be the best Cabinet Secretary of the current administration? In her six months in office, she has managed to redeem at least the image of the DOJ that I knew as a child, having been raised by a State Prosecutor myself. Yes, she has not improved the conviction rate of our National Prosecution Service but she has at least redeemed some of our trust in the department that is synonymous with the rule of law.
a) GMA is still powerful- she may no longer be the single most powerful official of the land, but she made sure that she would remain ever powerful. No, I’m not just talking about her new role as a member of Congress with the most pork. I’m referring to the fact that through a midnight judicial appointment and an ever-loyal Ombudsman, she has granted herself absolute impunity despite a change in administration. Nope, GMA has refused to quietly vanish into the night. On the contrary, people expect her to make a comeback courtesy of a House of Representatives that she, through her loyal allies, still control. It is a question of when and not if Congress will ram down out throats a constitutional amendment that would make her Prime Minister.
b) Then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra absolves Zaldy Ampatuan and cousin from culpability in the November 23 Ampatuan massacre- What gall and what nerve this Agra had in attempting to clear the smartest of the Ampatuan clan from the world’s single most deadliest attack on journalists. Nena Santos, lawyer for the Mangundadatus, declared on national radio that it was literally because of millions and millions of reasons. For whatever reasons he had, that single decision rightfully made Agra the second most hated person in government, next only to his appointing power.
c) The demise of my friend and co-convenor of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), “Josie” Lichauco- Lest I forget, 2010 marked the year that one of my closest friends and co-activists moved on to the next life. Pity that Josie never saw P Noy as President but yes, she will turn in her grave if she knew who it was that P Noy brought with him to Malacanang.
Happy New Year Philippine