[OPINION] Loving your country is very different from loving your government

Jaira Roxas

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[OPINION] Loving your country is very different from loving your government
'I love the Philippines. I love the people in it.... So I will not turn a blind eye when government incompetence makes these people suffer even more.'

I believe this started during the Philippines’ hosting of the 2019 SEA Games, when there were many organizing mishaps – the foreign athletes’ poor accommodations, the P50-million opening ceremony cauldron, the displacement of Aetas as New Clark City was being constructed, and all the unfinished venues days before the opening.

All these prompted those “critical” of the government to call out the organizers (headed by none other than House Speaker Alan Cayetano) for having such a big budget but delivering poor results. The “supporters” of the Duterte administration were then quick to defend the organizing officials, saying that we had to cut them some slack because they were working hard and doing their “best.”

Then came the amazing opening ceremony. All of us were in awe – I for one got really hyped over the performances. The production was world-class, and the moment the Filipino athletes came out in the parade, I was just so elated, my heart soaring upon seeing them smiling and waving little Philippine flags. Add to that the moment when Filipino sports legends came out to raise the SEA Games banner, and that was when I’d probably hit peak Filipino pride. 

Then the social media wars started. As we all tweeted the Philippine flag emoji, people were calling others out for being hypocrites.

It was preposterous at best. I know this firsthand because I had clashed with friends who believed being critical of the government and/or calling out the administration could not be done while you were proud of being Filipino. 

I was enraged. How could people say that being critical and being proud were mutually exclusive? 

A friend also pointed out: when you’re critical, you use your mind. When you’re proud, that’s your heart and feelings at work. Those are different things.

Loving your country is very different from loving your government. Besides, who are we to stay blind when faced with blatant incompetence? As a taxpayer, I know that I – we – deserve better.

Now the same scenario is happening as Metro Manila goes under “community quarantine” to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. People are calling others out for pointing out the things that should be improved by the administration.

The military and police are being deployed instead of implementing large-scale health measures. The President placed us under this “community quarantine” (a lockdown, in essence), but only very vague guidelines were provided. As of writing, they haven’t even released the Executive Order for this “quarantine.” 

However, people say we should just “obey.” People say we should just trust the President.

But how can we give our trust when we don’t really know if there is a long-term plan to address the pandemic? How do we give our trust if this administration believes that the root of all the country’s problems are illegal drugs? How do we trust an administration who keeps cutting the budget on health and education, just to add money to intelligence funds that just result in “Red October” plots and ouster plot matrices?

My heart goes out to every single frontliner in this health emergency – the health workers, hospital staff, LGU officials, establishment guards and maintenance staff, and all other men and women keeping this situation from getting out of hand. They really are gems and they should be protected.

But I still stand that our government could have done better and been prepared better for this. I am still holding them accountable. (READ: Metro Manila to be placed under curfew during lockdown)

I love the Philippines. I love the people in it, with their smiles and their hospitality and resiliency and so many other things. So I will not turn a blind eye when government incompetence makes these people suffer even more. After all, being critical of our government could very well be part of loving our country. – Rappler.com


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Jaira Roxas

As a multimedia producer, Jaira produces Rappler newscasts, shows, podcasts, and videos. She likes working on video stories from the communities and individuals who believe that little acts of courage can spark change.