[OPINION] Singko

Patricio Abinales
If you are really honest about it and sit back to evaluate Mayor’s presidential run so far, if you sift through all the narratives and remove the fake and the irrelevant, to concentrate on what is actual, you have to reach the conclusion that he has been a failure.

 

Singko” is the number given you when you fail your class at the University of the Philippines (UP). It means you have to re-enroll in the course, or, in the broader view of your academic path, change majors, or relieve Filipino taxpayers for paying another “iskolar ng bayan” by being kicked out of the State University.

In the heydays of student radicalism, getting “singko” was a badge of courage for would-be radicals. For instead of it being an indicator that you had failed, it was in their eyes, evidence of just how much you had come to appreciate what real education is – you learn it on the streets, not the classroom.

I was always suspicious of this rationalization. The political cynic in me saw it as just one of the baby steps that the communist underground in UP encouraged recruits to take to leave the university and work in the urban underground or with the maquis. The cynical academic in me thought it was hilarious: what do physicists and engineers learn about atoms and structures by marching on the streets?

This mentality reached grotesque proportions when some old friends and comrades who were in the sciences ended up in the jungle, spent an inordinate amount of time discussing where in “Mao Tse Tung’s Thoughts” one could find the right solution to repair a radio. But we are veering a bit far the reason why “singko” is worth our time: the grade that Tatay Digong deserves so far.

If you are really honest about it and sit back to evaluate Mayor’s presidential run so far, if you sift through all the narratives and remove the fake and the irrelevant, to concentrate on what is actual, you have to reach the conclusion that he has been a failure.

Consider his central campaign issue – the elimination of droga. As a candidate, he vowed to achieve this goal in 3-6 months. By the middle of his first year he had backpedaled and asked Filipinos to give him until the end of his term to erase this alleged scourge of our lives. He finally admitted that his crusade was not a failure; worse, it was a fiasco! And sadly, it took thousands of lives, mainly those from the poor and marginalized who adored him (his DDS!), before Mayor acknowledged this.

In April 2016, candidate Digong promised to defend the poor’s livelihood by ending contractualization. He sounded like a genuinely populist president, vowing to eliminate this ruse that employers use to keep labor cheap, temporary, and disorganized.

This month he gave up, declaring that this issue may best be resolved in Congress, of course conveniently forgetting how much the second branch is peopled with corrupt bosses and dynasts concerned foremost about their spoils than the people’s welfare. Hence, another “singko” when it comes to improving the poor’s livelihood.

Then there are the OFWs who cast their votes for Tatay D because he supposedly knows their dreams and aches. The ignorant people running the Foreign Affairs office and his Communications agency have just caused over 260,000 Pinoys working in Kuwait to lose their jobs. Mayor’s Solomonic moment (which the Presidential Mouth with the toupee-fetish announced) was to tell them to come home, vowing to pay for their plane fare even if he has “to rob” from a central bank (there is only one) just to get them home.

He promised them local jobs, and if these will not pan out, there is China seeking Pinoy and Pinay labor. Of course, he does not tell the Kuwait OFWs how much China will pay them and how its autocratic state deals with workers who protest too much. So when it comes to OFW’s welfare, Mayor earns another “singko”.

How about the economy? Tatay’s economists are giving themselves high-fives for the 6.7% GDP growth and pooh-poohed fears about a spiraling indebtedness to fund the government’s ambitious infrastructure development plan. Tatay and his technocrats do not seem to mind that the infrastructure budget will rely mainly on high-interest loans from China despite warnings by observers in-country and abroad.

And if they think we can pay for all these with revenues from investments, they should consider what the smart young economist JC Punongbayan warns: that a more significant chunk of this source of largesse has been leaving the country than coming in.

And now that Tatay has banned working in Kuwait, take out another $800 million from the total $28.1 billion worth of remittances, money that could go to paying the debt. Too early to tag another “singko” on Tatay D, kamo? Nah, the way to corruption is spreading across the regime – the latest of which is the Commission on Audit’s exposé of the Tulfos – there is no way that one cannot think of the 1981-83 Marcosian plunge into the economic abyss. I am confident Mayor deserves another failed grade here.

So what is left? Mindanao? Yes, Davao is experiencing phenomenal growth, but the blight of Muslim Mindanao remains. The Chinese were given the go-signal by Tatay to rehabilitate Marawi, but unless the configurations of political power are changed and the illicit sector – to which a majority of the area’s populace is dependent on – is displaced, there is nothing to look forward to regarding genuine Mindanao-wide progress.

Here maybe Tatay deserves a “kuwatro”, i.e., in UP parlance, a provisional grade which could either lead to a “tres” (low average but passable average) and a “singko”.

The rating so far is on the economy. What about politics and culture? Abangan. – Rappler.com