What else can we expect from a government that is being run more like a personality cult than an organization that is results-oriented, goal-oriented, and values-oriented?
What else can be expected of a government that suffers the lack of a clear vision, plan, implementation, and an assessment mechanism?
It helps to think that this government has been in disarray since Day One, when it started on the wrong foot with the opening salvo of killing people — yes, mostly the small and defenseless poor fry — in the guise of a noisy drug war, a policy that served more as a propaganda that he was a strong, brave, and no-nonsense president who would run after big time drug lords, than a holistic program that would address burning issues and solve prevalent social problems as poverty, criminality, and public health.
Initially, yes, initially, the president’s bravados captivated the imagination and enthusiasm of his adoring admirers, shored up by an innumerable army of trolls whose raison-d’ètre is to demolish critics and convince the unthinking and/or the uninitiated of the magnitude of the systemic change that was to come, by continuously harping on the past, that is, by revising history (read: lies) and spreading fake news (read: more lies).
The only change that came about was one of violence, terror, tyranny.
But after the thunderous adoration, adulation, and cheers will have given their last echo, a benighted country would appear rolling in pain, grasping at straws, sensing the pangs of hunger and angst, feeling distraught and dismayed by the lack of concrete plans, programs, and projects.
After a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after a year and a half of trial and error of recycled and refurbished quarantine classifications, still this rudderless government has yet to finalize another set of quarantine classifications with various Alert Levels and granular lockdowns — whatever the hell that means!
What significant decisions could ever come out of contrasting and conflicting data? At least, for once, an honest government servant grudgingly admitted that there was a disconnect between their data and what was happening on the ground.
Despite this, the personality cult continued without signs of waning.
With personality cult came a slew of ego-tripping, self-entitlement, and the abuse of power.
Presidential speeches became like drumbeats that demanded marching obedience, even if that meant marching to death.
Corruption was pursued, at first, with moderation and secrecy, and — if and when brought to light — later justified with the technicalities of the laws of their own making, and — if arguably defensible — finally flaunted with arrogant callousness or callous arrogance, whichever way was more convenient.
The abuse of power and the corruption that beclouded the vision of both the brave and the cowardly, both the young and the old, made this once beautiful and promising country de-sensitized. Indeed, we are a people united only by a collective helplessness and paralysis that is expressed so loudly in silent murmurs.
Father Ferdinand Hernando is the founder of the Missionaries of the Beatitudes, a congregation living the Augustinian spirit of St. Ezekiel Moreno. He is a theology professor specializing on Dogma, Liberation Theology, and Methods of Theological Reflection. He manages the St. Ezekiel Charity Kitchen for the Poor in Quezon City.