Did any of you catch "Strictly Politics" on ANC last night? The episode was on what we, the proudly anti-Gloria, call the bogus people's initiative. The guests were Atty. Raul Lambino, champion of the initiative, Rep. Roilo Golez, Atty. Howard Calleja, and two barangay captains, one from Cebu, the other from Iloilo (my apologies to them, their names escape me).
Never mind that I'd heard so much, almost too much, about how the DILG, other government officials, were involved in this exercise, it was still shocking. It was clear that the guests, apart from Atty. Lambino, were up in arms over the use of government agencies - the barangay captain from Iloilo called the inclusion of the petition in the barangay agenda as a "smuggled" initiative, the officials were told to "sneak" the petition into the agenda. The Cebuano barangay captain told of a meeting last week, called by the mayor and local government, that discussed "full support" if the signature gathering without having to explain anything to the people. They also spoke of signature gatherers and signatures being bought.
Golez couldn't get a straight answer from Lambino about how much it cost to print the over 400,000 signature sheets needed to be distributed among 42,000 barangays. Lambino kept saying it was all the work of groups like Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP (Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines), which begged the question - how and from whom did they get the money? It costs at least Php200M to mount a nationwide campaign like this. Atty. Calleja said it was a "smuggled", illegal, initiative, citing the law and the Supreme Court. I had to laugh when Lambino claimed they had gathered over 1.5 million signatures as of last night - my, my, these guys should be drafted into the COMELEC, they count so fast!
As I watched, this question came to mind - how much more can the middle class Filipino take before he or she is enraged enough at Gloria Arroyo's blatant misuse of power? There's the Fertilizer Scam the Austeros of this world continue to gloss over, the alleged cheating that Gloria doesn't want discussed in the Congress or any court, the coddling of Garci et al, the use of executive power to suppress our basic freedoms (CPR, PP1017) and muzzle her lackeys (EO464), the imprudent excesses of her husband, the politization of the military, and the list goes on and on.
It didn't take long for the answer to come to me - sadly, it seems many people are willing to take very, very much more of this abuse. I mourn for the loss of national dignity, the ease with which we dismiss all this as par for the course, the loss of idealism and continued inaction. So many claim that cheating is "normal", and stop right there, not bothering to offer suggestions on how to erase it. So many say they don't like Gloria, didn't even vote for her, but are only too willing to let her stay on so as not to discombobulate their lives. They raise their eyebrows at the abuse, but are content to "discuss" from the comfort of their arm chairs and that's about it. Sorry, this "I do my part by earning a living for my family", etc., is great, but it's also very selfish. So much for "loving our country". That line from their mouths is beginning to sound pretty bogus to me.