When Benigno Aquino III last visited New York City as part of a presidential traveling caravan that had started its first leg in Europe, the tone and substance of his prewritten and prepared rhetoric had changed drastically as he crossed the Atlantic.
Back home he was not spared the criticism that his “one-issue-fits-all” spiel tackled nothing new. It focused on the same old and tired polemic attacking his detractors and his predecessor. He was good at that and that is perhaps why he hardly wavered from the spin. In a sense such mudslinging founded his credibility as his mandate centered on it, distancing him from the corruption that marred his predecessor and differentiated him from his closest presidential rival As is simplistic and typical, he played the morality play to the hilt.
Such spin necessitated that he constantly appear donning a white ten-gallon hat, blaze with silver six shooters and gallop atop a tall and pristine white stallion. In other words, to remain heroic, he had to be immaculate.
From his now classic diatribes blaming the past administration of Gloria Arroyo for nearly all of our ills while lifting his own way up and beyond what his own shoulders could bear, to, whereupon the shores of the Americas, ironically citing, albeit quite unavoidably, major achievements of previous administrations for his inherited gains in environmentalism, Aquino’s prose in New York suddenly shifted its center.
In New York, the diatribes against Arroyo seemed relatively tempered as, in referring to the Philippines’ achievements in greening the environment, Aquino suddenly, and perhaps quite reluctantly, needed to cite his predecessor’s achievements more than what scant little his own administration achieved, if any.
The spin shift is understandable. The Filipino audiences in the United States were apparently better informed and connected with the dark intimate circumstances of the homeland and his crusty refrains would have similarly nauseated and induced incessant vomiting as it does among his critics at home.
The selective and alternating use of facts and fiction to suit one’s personal agenda and insidious ends regardless of the truth is classic “Politico-Speak” – lewd and ludicrous lexicon characterized by hyperbolic and verbose treatments of the truth, half-truths, complete lies and spin repeated often enough that they morph from disembodied ghosts and then take form and substance as do invisible wisps of stench conjure images of suspected sciatica stepped on and hidden underfoot when one crosses across wet and damp soil.
The formula was simply classic campaign rhetoric – shallow enough to be easily understood by anyone born the previous night; hollow enough so that it might dwell on motherhood statements and parry any chances of deeper scrutiny; and finally, dripping and drooling acidic hatred enough to incite epidermal passions from the unthinking.
Note the irony and disconnect in Aquino’s New York sojourn. Everyone who understands his politics and his bullheaded stance on the environment evidenced by the quantum number of toxic plants he has planned and eventually intends to put up to replace renewable sources can easily see through the flimsy fibs, thus digging out and revealing the hypocrisy where he, of all Filipinos, has chosen to address a climate change conference and present the country as an environmental exemplar.
How disconnected is that from the truth? Not since the energy crisis of Corazon Aquino had the government signed and contracted so much dirty, filthy and toxic coal-fired power in such a short time as now. Simply analyze our quickly deteriorating energy mix.
Mindanao illustrates the worst hypocrisies. Under Aquino, what was once pristine Mindanao historically powered by huge hydroelectric power plants cascading down the Agus River complex will henceforth be blanketed by a shroud of toxic, deadly and the most foul sulfuric fumes that emanate from coal-fired facilities.
Imagine the poisons that will invariably rain on the country’s food and fruit basket. Now imagine your children biting into a luscious cyanide-laced, cadmium, mercury and sulfuric acid flavored pineapple, durian, pomelo, banana and mangosteen. Pushing, if not forcing through an energy mix comprised of toxic fossil burning plants, Aquino’s new portfolio of dirty energy – his answer to the colossal dereliction that degraded its hydroelectric facilities by allowing decades of silt and dirt to accumulate – his fossil strategy for Mindanao will soon overwhelm the renewable sources that was once the pride of the Philippines’ land of promise.
If Mindanao is too far away to be relevant for those in Luzon, specifically for Manila’s denizens, consider the environmental hypocrisies right in our own backyard. Here is another deadly problem that Aquino continues to “noynoy”.
For over sixteen months now, despite calls from environmentalists for Aquino to show some garbanzos and intervene, illegal Canadian toxic waste shipments have been festering in Philippine ports creating various environmental hazards and threatening public health and safety. Last Tuesday concerned citizens, fed up and totally disgusted, took their complaint to the streets and there staged a protest in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Note the “thumb-twiddling”. The Executive Department might indeed be busy with other more pressing matters such as self-indulgent games that range from a puerile preoccupation with video games and guns to bullying the judiciary or defending against the public’s charges on the issue of the PDAF and DAP. Unfortunately, as months pass the toxicity of the garbage the government leaves to fester worsens and represents a continuing violation of the law which a government spun on the righteous path cannot leave constantly un-addressed, thumb-twiddled and effectively “nonoyed”.
For one, the importation of toxic wastes violates the DENR Guidelines for the Importation of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances and Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. For another, it also violates the Basel Convention, which prohibits illegal toxic waste trade and mandates such trade a criminal act.
Once he steps down from office, Aquino will not only be answerable for the criminality inflicted from juggling public funds but also for endangering public health from the continuing dereliction in this matter. It is obvious that behind the importation of garbage and its continuing presence in the public domain there are unknown entities benefitting from such crimes.
BAN Toxics executive director Atty. Richard Gutierrez said it most eloquently when he declared that “Filipinos have labored under a series of administrations that value toxic wastes more than the public’s right to a healthful ecology. The fact that the government has twiddled its thumbs for over 20 years on the issue of toxic waste dumping, shows that there are a few who benefit from this criminal trade, and that administrations past and present have been unwilling or have decided to look the other way.”
“Looking the other way” is an expression that characterizes criminal dereliction and this is exactly what comprises the dirty and foul hypocrisy inflicted on us by the present dispensation. Sycophants insist that this administration is way cleaner than the previous. That may not be accurate in any sense of the word.