Have mercy on us

By Alex P. Vidal

“This hour we are stretching forth our hands with the desire to teach the world the true principles of mercy and justice.”— Marcus Garvey

NO one is mad that a nearly P1-billion worth of public works project in Iloilo might go down the drain; or, there is an indication it will altogether lose its luster and usefulness owing to its forlorn state no matter how the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) deodorizes the project’s chances of getting a second wind or gaining fruition.

Or we are already tired of getting mad?

Or we have surrendered the reigns of the Philippines to Gumby and Pokey, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Phineas and Ferb, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble?

When I started writing a newspaper column, it was post EDSA Revolution years; and the most common battlecry and admonishment persistently munched by those wanting to reform the society and who assumed adversarial journalistic stance was, “the rich in our society are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer.” Bedazzling and sensational!

“Something must be done!” we thundered and goaded the readers.

Some of the shameless Cojuangcos were believed to have taken advantage of Tita Cory’s ascension to presidency via “People Power”, thus “the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer” cliché had become a vogue, the national anthem of both the “reformists” and “alarmists”, especially the chroniclers of the country’s socioeconomic and political climate.


After 35 years, the over-used cliché remains relevant and continues to reverberate in newspaper columns, blogs, podcasts, debates and conversations.

Op-ed sections are still littered with the debris of this annoying and irritating platitude.

Since Mrs. Cory Aquino, there have been five presidents: FVR, Erap, Gloria, Noynoy or P-Noy, Digong. Nothing has changed. These presidents weren’t the solution to the people’s misery.

In fact, they proved to be part and parcel of the problem, the macrocosm of what ails the nation, if not the bearers of bad omen and tribulations for the Filipino people.

To our big consternation, it’s no longer “the rich are getting richer, whiel the poor are getting poorer.” It has “leveled up.”

It’s now “the rich are getting richer and powerful, the poor are getting poorer and weak.”

From bad to worse. That’s how appalling we have sunk over these years since we regained democracy in 1986.


Rich and powerful means thieves enriching themselves at the expense of ordinary taxpayers and getting away with murder, while occupying high positions in civil and military establishments and becoming above the law.

Poorer and weak means Filipinos at the mercy of these harpooned barracudas.

For lack of faith in our capacity to resist a tyrannical rule, we allow and tolerate abuses and putrid behaviors of some public leaders; and it seems no amount of education and enlightenment—including empowerment—can goad us to loudly and collectively say NO to the bands of sycophants and bloodsuckers we have entrusted with public funds.

Graft and corruption, incompetence, ineptitude, ignorance, negligence, parasitism, avarice have prevented the Philippines from inching closer to our neighboring ASEAN nations that have breached the NIChood (Newly Industrialized Country) threshold.

The Filipinos are no longer angry at the massive looting and pillage in the people’s treasury. They keep on glorifying and electing into important government positions the circus players, flame throwers, third-rate movie stuntmen, and spin masters. They don’t complain.

Have mercy on us.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)