HomeCommentaryWhy not Sara?

Why not Sara?

Why not Sara? The open answer is because she wants to “continue,” maybe perpetuate, the legacy of her father.

There are movements now that “drop” Bongbong Marcos and combine Sara’s candidacy with other presidentiables in different places — Isko-Sara, Pacquiao-Sara, and even Leni-Sara. I do not know where this is coming from. Maybe from local governments’ alliance with these candidates, but also their loyalty to Duterte himself.

In this article, let me ask the question: Why not Sara? The open answer is because she wants to “continue,” maybe perpetuate, the legacy of her father. In her campaign she says: “Yan po ang commitment namin, na ituloy ang mga programa kontra kriminalidad ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Duterte.” (Paranaque, March 12, 2022).

There might be a “hidden” answer but hard to speculate. Though it does not really take a genius to figure out why. Hindi naman tayo ipinanganak kahapon.

Because she does not join public debates, and because the “UniTeam” does not have concrete platforms on issues other than “unity,” we do not really know what “Duterte legacy” she (and they) want to preserve other than this “fight against criminality.”

But let me venture to count the ways.

  1. Extrajudicial killings

We know that Duterte and his men have a pending case in the International Criminal Court. For sure, that is not a “yellow” narrative. To win the vice presidency would give her some leg room and influence to protect the father from litigation. But whether Duterte has cases in the ICC or not, my journey with the mothers, widows and orphans of the War on Drug victims is enough reason that this administration has “killed” not only the addicts but the future of their families as well. One can never imagine the trauma and anger the killing did to young minds. One sharing a child said: “I want to be a police, because I want to kill the policeman who killed my father.”

We also know the killings did not stop with the addicts but also pursued the “communists,” the “lumad,” the dissenters and activists. If this is the criminality she is talking about, this is a well-funded program under NTF-ECLAC and legally supported by Anti-Terrorism Law. This legacy is not only an attack against human life and dignity. It is also a source of corruption that breeds violence. What kind of legacy is that?

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“Thou shall not kill” is an absolute Christian command. Any enabler of a government who kills is not worthy of our vote.

  1. Corruption

“Give me 3-6 months” was the campaign refrain to rid the Philippines of corruption. More that 16 million cheered. He will not tolerate a corrupt official, “not even a whiff of corruption.” In his last SONA, he admitted: “You cannot stop corruption… it will always be there.” Let us just remind ourselves of this legacy which are from COA, an official government body: the PhilHealth scam (Php15B); Php67.3 B “deficiencies” with the Department of Health, Php41B of which went to the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM). Do you still remember Pharmally and the overpriced face masks and PPE’s from China? Php583.5B flagged by COA as “wasted funds on corruption and incompetence” in 2017 alone.

Where are Faeldon and Lapena today? What happened to the magnetic lifters in 2017? Do you still remember the “pastillas” scam? In 2020, the Philippines ranked 115th out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) done by Transparency International (TI). What kind of legacy is this?

“Thou shall not steal” is God’s command. Any candidate who plans to continue such legacy, who connive with plunderers in one party, and have no plans to prosecute the corrupt is not worthy of my vote.

  1. Environmental plunder

Duterte began his term with environmental “dramatics” — the return of Canada waste illegally shipped to us and the Boracay “clean up.” He also banned casinos in the island — only to lift the same ban in April 2021. It is now open to 150-hectare resort of the Alliance Global Group.

In a dramatic move and to our delight, he chose the environmental advocate, Gina Lopez, to be the DENR Secretary in 2017. He also imposed moratorium on open-pit mining. He later sacked Gina and lifted the moratorium in the granting of new permits for mining companies. Gone are our hopes for sustainable ecology.

Another drama is the Manila Bay dolomite beach. When typhoon “Odette” struck the Visayas, “Alcoy” (Cebu) from where the crushed dolomite were hauled had big boulders came rushing down on houses in the plains. The delight to our eyes in Manila were paid for by the suffering of people somewhere else. There are still other environment issues that pose questions to the Duterte administration: the Kaliwa dam and the controversial Chinese capitalization, the Malampaya deals with Dennis Uy, and the coal plants program.

And there are many other issues too long to mention: the “build, build, build” program, which according to NEDA, plans to complete 18 projects out of 122 proposed at the end of Duterte’s term (well, after so much “bruhaha”); independent foreign policy (kuno) which is read as “friendship” with China; the drama of ABS-CBN, Rappler, and many others.

But what has this got to do with Sara, the daughter? My answer is the same as Marcos Jr., the son.

Sins are not just personal sins, something which we individually commit. St. John Paul II talks of “social sins,” “structural sins,” sins found in societal structures. They “cry to heaven because they generate violence, disrupt peace and harmony.” They are started and perpetrated by persons; but they continue to corrupt and pollute society in the structures that these candidates and party vow to perpetuate and continue. They are conscious and willing “enablers” and promoters of the structures of evil.

So far, no one owned up to these facts and cases. Neither the father nor the daughter. And there is no plan to call these people into account. These are enough reasons to say: she is not worthy of my vote!

Father Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M. is a theologian, professor, and pastor of an urban poor community in the outskirts of the Philippine capital. He is also Vincentian Chair for Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York.

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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