I do not hesitate to call you “Madam” not on the basis of respect or cordial greeting, but on the basis of its traditions. You are indeed a Madam: political royalty, among other things, an elite, a political butterfly masquerading as a figurehead of political unity. I write this letter in the interest of providing you with the State of the Nation, as experienced by a 24-year-old who happens not to be sheltered by delusional people in your circle, or trapped by the delusions of power. As a citizen, I am entitled to describe the state of my nation, but am not as privileged as you are to deliver it before a lectern in the Batasang Pambansa.
Towards your vision of a great country, towards First World status in 20 years, you have pledged reform after reform, bill after bill, project after project, that claim to improve the lives of the Filipino people. Yet the streets are filled with the hungry and the unemployed who have suffered the brunt of a financial crisis far worse than you can possibly imagine. The farms are fallowed and dry, thanks to an agrarian reform program that only works to serve the interests of landlords, not tenant farmers. The nets cast to the seas remain empty as the boats reach the shore, for as you focus on the imagined enemies of your Administration, our environment is in a shambles. Your laudable commitment to link all the island groups of the Philippines to a nautical highway is great and all, but the absence of national industries to take goods and products through this highway will leave it an extremely open road.
A commitment to a national industry, Madam President. While you attempt to paint a glossy picture of our country being a wonderland of outsourcing, you never looked at the other side of the portrait. The absence of a national industry forces us to become the back-office of the world, working not for our benefit as a people and as a nation. We need a purposeful commitment to things like science and technology to improve the lives of our citizenry; and to art, literature, and music to highlight our culture and our humanity.
As you travel the world shaking hands with the world’s leaders, the Filipino travels in a chaotic transport system. As you pride yourself on teaching, the young Filipino not only struggles to fit inside a crowded classroom, but also reads textbooks that are inadequate and grammatically incorrect. As you pride yourself on the invitation of another President, you cannot invite yourself to the scrutiny of the public who demand your side of the story. As you talk about drugs, you have refused to take a stand against drugs without approved therapeutic claims, and the specter of drug use still remains an ominous shade in back-alleys and even open markets.
Your Administration may have had 365 days to do it this year, and that is a very limited time. The past 8 years, though, is an extended grace period that we will no longer tolerate.
This year, the Government made the grievous mistake of threatening the survival, sovereignty, and unity of the Philippines thanks to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity – Memorandum of Agreement. This year, thousands of Filipinos lost their jobs in shoe factories, in chain restaurants, in BPO facilities, tire factories, small cottage industries. Things like corruption, scandal, accountability, and transparency, were not addressed in the SONA. The state of the environment – the degradation of the Sierra Madre, Diwalwal, the Cordillera, the seas and oceans and rivers – were name-dropped in your SONA. The very unity to exhort us to do is the very unity you compromised and destroyed.
The disgust and revulsion that threatened our Constitution in the form of HR 1109 was not discussed, not in passing and never even mentioned, in the SONA. Your blatant disrespect for history, the Constitution, and the laws of the land were things you swept under the rug. Political killings, the silencing of dissent… these are things not at all addressed in the SONA in favor of signing passages for treaties not useful (or irrelevant) to us, name-dropping, acknowledgments, and self-aggrandizing behavior that borders on the tasteless, and certainly crosses the border into shameless. Your critics call it dictatorship. You call it determination. Madam President, I call it like I see it: a sham.
The state of the nation is exactly that, Madam President: a sham. A nation plagued by the scandals of its own Government. A nation mired in the miasma of neglect and selfish interests. A nation framed in the struggles of poor families, the unemployed, the children who starve, those who have given up and surrendered their rights because the Government offers no hope and no way out of the impasse of corruption it has created for itself to stay in power. Power is far more important to you than principles of fairness, justice, and freedom.
To you, Madam President, this advice: if you really want something done, do it sincerely, within the bounds of the just, the moral, the ideal, and the prudent. Do it true, get it done. Don’t keep switching a foot. Respect the true. And don’t distort the truth in the face of the public.
As you crunch out the numbers to validate your claims, those who are not cocooned in corporate privilege or government privilege do not feel, nor do they benefit, from the changes and reforms you brag about. They remain poor, starving, lacking in education, denied, cheated, hoodwinked, betrayed by the very Administration that is willing to sacrifice the needs of the many for want of personal glory.
As your staunchest supporters spew forth paraphrases of Goebbels and Castro, know this: history is not the future, nor does it await legacies. History is a judge of the here-and-the-now, and will judge you on what you do today. You do not dare put yourself on the same pedestal as a Bonifacio, or on the same plane as Cory Aquino, if not for your audacity and desire to cling to power.
Kung sa kasaysayan ka umaasa para malinis ang iyong pangalan, iminumungkahi ko na gawin mo itong batayan. Nagsasalita lamang ako para sa sarili ko: hindi ako matitinag ng iyong kasakiman. At lalung-lalo nang hindi ako papayag na papatotohanin ang iyong mga kasinungalingan. Higit dito, hindi ko isusuko sa iyo ang aking karapatan at ang aking kinabukasan. Tama na, sobra na, sawang-sawa na ang mamamayang Pilipino – kabilang ako – sa iyo.
Sa kalayaan, sa hustisya, sa nararapat, sa tama, at sa Bayan, Madam Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: sabihin mo ang totoo.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, at maraming salamat.
(Added September 1, 2009: For purposes of verifying nominations for the Ten Best Posts of the Year for the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards, this code: PBA09prn98r6)