Actions speak louder than words

With the current mass gatherings and political rallies — slash concerts — going on, one can’t help but wonder if the real plans and programs of our candidates for president are being diluted by motherhood statements and promises.

It is natural for those seeking public office to commit the high heavens to voters. Election season after all is a time to deliver messages the public wants to hear for the sake of votes. It would also seem that through experience, many of these promises end up unfulfilled, revised, or compromised to appease political interests and benefactors.

Such is the story in every election we have undergone since 1986. And 36 years on, we continue to languish behind our more progressive neighbors. Still hoping for the best to come.

It is my fear that this election will be no different from the past. Already we are seeing campaign organizers and candidates condoning tightly packed rallies as if the pandemic has magically disappeared. And if this is a clear sign of how the laws of the land and the well-being of the people will be handled in the next administration, then we are in for a ride to nowhere yet again.

The recent gains brought about by this administration’s Build, Build, Build program is an example worth dissecting. Most candidates verbally have committed to continuing the construction of these roads, bridges and railways that are already in various phases of development. But of course, since all of them are in the opposition frame of mind, they could not keep themselves from promising a better implementation of the scheme. One that suits their narrative and agenda.

It is quite easy to be a political commentator when you are a candidate. To say that infrastructure projects funded through Public-Private Partnerships are better than Official Development Assistance or those funded by the taxes collected by the government is patently disingenuous. Especially when we have seen in the last six years how much faster certain projects can be finished with the people’s money. And at the same time, how one-sided PPP deals can be disadvantageous to the interests of the public.

Getting things done, and done right, is not exactly something Philippine governments and past administrations are known for. But at least now, after four decades of waiting, this administration has made the government accountable to the people when it comes to investing in infrastructure.

Although only a mere 18 of the 119 BBB projects will be completed by the time President Duterte steps down from office this June, it is the investment that this government has undertaken in these past six years that will finally force the succeeding administration to follow through with these projects.

Now we can look forward to our first subway system in Metro Manila, more light rail lines from north to south and east to west, a functioning railway service from Clark to Calamba, faster travel times via new roads to the Bicol region, cleaner and more modern local and international airports and seaports. All of these are already works in progress to be completed in the next five to 10 years. That is if the next government, whoever may be at the helm, gets along with the plan.

We all know how easy it is for a new administration to stop a previous regime’s projects cold just because they did not like the ideas or even because they were not the ones who brought the projects to life. This has been the norm every time a different set of leaders are voted in. Shouldn’t we stop this from happening again?

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We have all experienced what would happen when needed flood control projects are halted, when infrastructure investment is cut, when debilitating traffic is viewed as a sign of progress, and even when train maintenance is corruptly handed over to an inexperienced company. How about when our airports are mismanaged to the point that syndicates are allowed to operate and victimize innocent travelers with “laglag bala” schemes?

Have we all forgotten how bad it can get without the right investment and planning in the country’s transportation and infrastructure sectors?

So for Pete’s sake, don’t be sucked into that mindset that “hope” is the answer to this country’s woes. That somehow, motherhood statements can bring real progress and fill our stomachs. And that a promise of good governance from ironically those who failed doing so during their time will make everything all right.

The real answer is young, progressive leadership. One that does not dwell in the past but instead looks to the future and the potential of the country and its people. One that has no political and social baggage to carry along. In any organization, this is what new blood is all about. A fresh perspective not clouded by color and myopic bias is what this country really needs.

They say the only thing constant is change. Now it is again up to us if that change will be for the good of all, or for the good of the few. Vote wisely. And vote for things to finally get done.