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[Y-SPACE] The People of the Philippines and the Government: Replying and Receiving the “K.” Response

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

By Philip Joshua D.C. Santiago

What do you feel when you send a message or reply to someone with the word “K.” Is it referring to okay or not okay? How does “K.” change your feeling or perception when you are receiving the said response? How about referring to the present political context, the conversation of the masses to the public servant of the country’s national government? When the masses’ message is all about again the word “K” but in three characterizations namely – (1) KATAPATAN (honesty), (2) KATARUNGAN (justice), and (3) KASARINLAN (independence). But the national government response is contrary to those three namely – (1) KRIMEN (crime), (2) KORUPSYON (corruption), and (3) KAHIRAPAN (poverty). How does the conversation end? Let us see…

The Philippines, throughout history, has been in an incessant struggle of having their luck to meet one day a true servant and/or empowered leader in the country’s national government serving the toiling masses. Since politics in the country’s national government has been given a bad name as it is usually seen as a “partisan power struggle” to win or prevail no matter what happens motivated by political and/or personal interests. Playing a gamble on a certain political actor and figure with the expectation that one day all political, and socio-economic problems will resolve. Likewise, there have been numerous attempts of the past administrations to resolve the problems and struggles of the Filipino masses, as seen in the historical context, from defeating colonists to overthrowing corrupt presidents. However, it seems that the message of the masses does not match or align with the response of the national government, as seen through the present context.

The Filipino masses, especially the toiling masses’ message in every upcoming election, national or local, is that the successor leader of the national government will try to alleviate poverty, which is the most pressing social problem in the country, together with its characteristics and message of katapatan (honesty), katarungunan (justice), and kasarinlan (independence) in different ways.

Katapatan. As often mentioned in the classical quote “honesty is the best policy.” Honesty in the government is one of the important keys to having a good and efficient way of governance and living. Seeing several servant leaders that honesty is not a certificate nor title but a status quo towards good governance. It entails that the leader in the country’s national government should have an honest approach to the people, for instance, accountable and transparent government. The toiling masses emphasize that it must have values and someone who will be honest and responsible for their actions and decisions and willing to admit when they have a mistake. Likewise, selfless, and willing to prioritize others before himself. They must conduct themselves in a manner that shows the public that they are trustworthy and serving the needy, not for gaining attention but for doing it as a true ‘public servant’.

Katarungan. Justice in the country’s context is often interpreted by choosing two principles only – money or luck. One element is money because without money, justice cannot immediately respond to the needs of the masses or rather so-called ‘merciless fate’ which means that they did not have the money to pursue their cases, ending up being imprisoned even though they are innocent. While the concept of luck is by having a bit of fate if the justice will prevail on time and be acted well. Recently, as the current administration takes over the legislation policies and programs, justice has continuously deteriorated, most notably, the human rights violation during the present administration's campaign of the drug war, abuse of power, and weaponization of the rule of law. Thus, it seems that in the present context, justice in the country is not always prevailing, contrary to the saying of “justice will always prevail.” Henceforth, the masses’ message to the country’s national government is that justice shall adhere to the rule of law together with proper legislation and principles.

Kasarinlan. The independence of our country is a worthy treasure of past to future. In a historical sense, it can be traced back from Spanish colonization up to Martial Law Era in the country where the foremost objective is to have the independence to all that will bring stability and prosperity. However, it seems that in the present context, independence in our own country is dying, for instance, the blistering maritime tension in the West Philippine Sea to China. Five years ago, the International Tribunal Court awarded the claimant state – the Philippines is the one who has sovereign rights in the disputed maritime domain. However, it seems that the current administration tends to have an alliance with China, which led to the presence of several Chinese vessels within our territorial sea which also gravely affects the environment and the livelihood of the Filipino people. Moreover, our sovereignty and independence to our territorial sea is wreaked due to the fact that the national government has seen to agree with the Chinese response on the disputed island claim. Hence, the toiling masses’ message, especially from the people that the livelihood is related to fishing, the message to the national government shall have its independence in terms of policies and/or legislation that affect the independence and sovereignty of our country and its masses.

Furthermore, the leader of the current administration in the country’s national government took the position as newly elected president in 2016. He has been described as the tough-talking president and has been overseen to stack the government with his supporters, crackdown the opposition, and even silence the media. His style of leadership clearly manifests as being an authoritarian rule as the way of his governance values order and control over personal freedom. Moreover, the national government in view of its effort and response to the problems cannot entail the masses’ message which manifests on how the country has been dying and continuing to deteriorate daily. As from my point of view, the current administration's response to the “K.” messages of the masses was merely also a “K.”, a ‘3K’ but it seems to have worsened the country’s political and socio-economic problem namely krimen (crime), korupsyon (corruption), and kahirapan (poverty).

But then, how does this “K.” response of the national government be the key perpetrator of violence and negligence to the toiling masses’ message? Is it okay? Hmmm…

Krimen. There are numerous increasing struggles in the country between authoritarian forces and the people attempting to stand up for human rights and democracy, thus it leads to the perpetrator of killings of the people. The current administration’s principal authority has been a highly punitive approach to illegal drug use and eventually lead to a bloody war crime. Many of these crime deaths were premediated the so-called ‘extra-judicial killings (EJKs)’ from the accounts of witnesses but the policemen justified it as an act of self-defense as those who were killed are the ones that pulled the trigger first. As eloquently mentioned in the damning UN report that tens of thousands of people may have been killed during the administration’s launch of the war on drugs campaign. This campaign led to a staunching human rights violation, abuse of power, and the weaponization of the law. Likewise, impunity and/or crimes against humanity happen a lot in the country’s society.

Korupsyon. Prior to the existence of the global pandemic, there is already an existing virus that a long time ago had hampered the country’s national and local government with a grave sickness that directly affects the public – it is corruption, which threatens the life and integrity of accountability and transparency of the public offices. Often mentioned that transparency and accountability remained an issue in the country’s government, as officials restrict public participation and silence dissenting voices in matters of national affairs. In the country’s present context, battling corruption has been one of the administration’s campaign promises, which President Duterte has repeatedly stressed during public speeches by threatening crocked souls still in government. However, it entails not battling but continuing the corruption process and system in the national government, for instance, the Php 15 billion issue in PhilHealth and the Php 14 billion of suspicious transactions linked to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), among others.

Kahirapan. Poverty is the most pressing social concern and problem in the country. More often mentioned that every past administration leader in the national government address and revitalize the program to uplift the lives of every Filipino toiling masses. According to some data, about 25% of Filipinos live in dehumanizing poverty and suffer food hunger. These are the helpless people who go to bed hungry every single day. Also, it is not simply a numbers game. Many consider poverty as the ‘root cause’ of other problems the people are facing with. And as the global pandemic hits the country, poverty continues to worsen. The current administration is seen to have programs for the toiling masses, but it cannot change the fact that the programs are not totally addressing the social problem due to corruption in the national government. Hence, the income wealth and gap continue to grow and apparently has driven many Filipinos to seek jobs overseas and made our country lag economically.

This is the conversation of the masses and the national government. Messaging and replying both of “K” but in a different aspect. Is “K.” okay? How will the conversation end?

Well, over the last few years or even decades, the policies and programs have reshaped, as shown by the varying situation. But the masses’ message cannot be totally altered. The pursuit of truth through abiding by the rule of law has been the central theme in the country’s national government together with its democratic way of leadership who will mobilize to act for social change. However, in the present context, the Filipinos have fallen into persuasive words of a candidate who showed bravery in words and not in actions. Also, the old villains, for instance, oppression and corruption remain intact, preventing the country to develop.

Assessing the current state response of the national government to the message of the Filipino toiling masses, we can see the incessant under development. It traps a million people, where it is both the cause and the consequences of underdevelopment. The country’s national government social services must be appropriate to the needs and message of the toiling masses, and it must be central to achieve equality and closing the wealth and income gap between the rich and the poor. Remember that the basic task of development is to address societal needs by building prosperity for the greatest number of people. It is an obligation of the government. Similarly, we must open economic opportunities, maintain socio-political stability, and promote good stewardship of our resources. What we really need is a strong political will and good governance to achieve the toiling masses message of “3K” (katapatan, katarungan at kasarinlan). Likewise, it should be affluent that can support programs and/or legislation policies that have a positive impact on the society and exercise the prudence of living simply to enable others to live decently and with dignity.

Hmm… As you reach to the final message of the conversation, starting with the message of the Filipino toiling masses and eventually the response of the national government, what have you noticed? Is “K.” okay, just like when you text a message to someone or not? Which type of “K” truly exists within the message of the masses? Oh well, I think we have different perspectives and opinions about this, and I will leave that to you on which “K.” truly adheres the message of the masses to the response of the national government. I will only say that their “3K” response does not completely address the entirety of the Filipinos and has never shown the adherence to the democratic system but rather insists on breaking the established democratic order ostensibly to bring the country’s national government to what they regard as “a path of political stability and economic progress.” Hence, I will also reply “K.” but it does not mean okay. The “K.” stands for the “3K” message of the masses and most importantly, for the others to exemplify additional elements of two secondary "K" – katapangan (bravery) and karapatan (rights) to all.

Philip Joshua D.C. Santiago aka ‘PJ’ is a 3rd year Political Science student in Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He is simple but a witty one, and at the same time, a consistent Dean’s lister at the colegio. He describes himself as ‘Invictus’ which means ‘undefeated’ and his personality as ‘gold’ because it is ‘indestructible’ but with a love of knowledge and his mind full of wisdom.

YSPACE is a platform open for young writers to contribute their worth-sharing thoughts and stories to the world. It is a space for young people and by the young people which aims to promote a strong sense of empowerment and inspiration to young Filipinos.

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