The blame-game syndrome

The President’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) was a much-awaited summary of the government’s accomplishments during the five years that he was in office. It lavishly praised the improvements in the economy, the decrease in the number of poor Filipinos, in the passage of the reproductive health bill, the high ratings given the administration by international bodies, and people who carried out P-Noy’s daang matuwid program, namely Kim Henares, Mon Jimenez, Armin Luistro, Albert del Rosario, Rogelio Singson, Amando Tetangco Jr., and Leila de Lima.

To be sure, there were important concerns that were missing in the more than two hours recitation, like the Mamasapano massacre, the breakdowns in the railway transport system, the Freedom of Information bill, among others.

We can not expect miracles to happen. In five years, there was just too much happening that seemed beyond the President’s control. For one thing, people working for him could not deliver to his, and the nation’s satisfaction. But, as he said, quoting Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And he added, “I am not a perfect person, but I did my best.” Those words lifted the listeners’ spirit.

But one thing that the general public did not relish was the President’s habitual putting the blame for the unachievable, on the corruption of the previous administration. The accusation against the former president is still awaiting judicial judgment, but already she is being presumed guilty. And worse, it seems nobody is concerned about her failing health and physical condition. Enough of finger-pointing, enough of the blame-game syndrome please. Just proceed to pick up where the past government left off.

* * *

Congratulations to the Women’s Rights Movement of the Philippines for sponsoring a dialogue on such issues as empowering women on social protection issues such as rights, laws, on women, local governance, climate change and global UN advocacy platforms. The event was held yesterday at the Club Filipino, through the initiative of WRMP’s president Norma Lozano and members, and lawyer Alicia Vidal, Integrated Bar of the Philippines executive director. Daphne Roxas, coordinator of the Philippine Local Women Leaders Network on the UN Post-2015 Agenda, was the event coordinator.

The activity traced the footprints of Pope Francis from Manila to Tacloban to New York to Paris after typhoon Yolanda through presentations by the Asian Women’s Network on Gender and Development (AWNGAD), WRMP and the Helena Z. Benitez Global Forum.

During the open forum, questions touched on divorce and the social protection of women. A Muslim participant described what other faiths envy, ie., divorced Muslim women, along with their children, enjoy separation benefits from their husbands. Retired Judge Aurora Recina, president of the UN Associations of the Philippines (UNAP) and former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, said there is no need to lobby for a divorce law as the Family Code recognizes annulment, which allows women to remarry. To this, Dr. Amelia Reyes said marriages annulled by the civil courts is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

On the protection of working women’s rights, Consuelo Angco, formerly of the Trade Union Council of the Philippines, and Psyche D. Roxas, managing editor of Philippine Graphic Magazine, and lawyer Gloria Llarot pointed to the unfair labor practice of employers allowed by the law to sign five-month contracts with employees, thus freeing them from giving social benefits. A move was suggested for the women to file for the amendment of this practice in Congress.

Quiet moments were devoted to honor the memory of the late Crown Princess Zorayda “Baby” Tamano of Marawi Marantao who passed away recently. Daughter Jamila Lucman described her mother as kind, pious, and giving of herself to the service of others.

Also remembered was the late Ferdinand D. Roxas, OWWA welfare officer, who was considered a “hero” during the Gulf War, who looked after the welfare of overseas Filipino workers displaced or exploited by their employers from Riyadh to Dubai.

* * *

Diwata-Women in Resource Development, Inc. (“Diwata”) celebrated its third founding anniversary at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila with the expectation it will be sending unskilled, indigenous grandmothers for training in India to become solar engineers. This project, to be realized through fund-raising activities, was brought up at the organization’s anniversary celebration whose 2015 theme, curiously, was “Understanding Culture through Textiles.” Solar energy and textiles are two different worlds. But read on.

Diwata is a non-government organization advocating the responsible development of the Philippines’ wealth in resources, principally in extractive industries such as mining, oil and gas, quarrying, and other mineral resources from the earth for processing. It provides a platform for the promotion of responsible development of the Philippines’ resources and promotion of initiatives, to protect the land and its communities, particularly our indigenous people – their livelihood, health, education, and culture.

Diwata, with its project partners the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association and the Land Rover Club of the Philippines, and in coordination with the Embassy of India and the Barefoot College, is currently raising funds for the “Tanging Tanglaw: Turning IP Grandmothers into Solar Engineers.”

The project involves sending illiterate and unskilled women to the Barefoot College in Tilonia, India to attend a six-month training course on solar engineering, specifically, fabricating, installing, repairing and maintaining solar lighting equipment. The Barefoot College was founded by Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2010. Upon returning to their respective villages, each pair of solar grandmothers will be responsible for solar electrifying of 100 households.

Guest of honor Dr. Celia Elumba, director of the Philippine Textile Research Institute, gave a special lecture for the attendees to enhance their knowledge on textiles and its significance.

In its first three years, Diwata held dialogues for various mining stakeholders to promote better understanding of the industry and how it could work better for host communities towards national development. Recently, it conducted a forum at the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences in coordination with McKinsey Global presenting their study entitled “Reverse the Curse: Maximizing the Potential of Resource Driven Economies”. This activity is to be replicated in different parts of the country. One of the key objectives of this presentation is to inform, engage and influence policy makers in the Philippines, particularly in regions that host significant mining activities, to adopt an innovative approach to ensure that their jurisdictions’ resource endowments are maximized.

Guest of honor Dr. Celia Elumba, Director of the Philippine Textile Research Institute, held a special lecture for the attendees to enhance their knowledge on textiles and it’s significance in culture.

Founding president Patricia A. O. Bunye officially handed over the continuation of Diwata projects to president-elect Yody A. Marzo at the anniversary event.

Read More: