Where are the Filipino Youth?
by: Harvey S. Keh
The past weeks we have witnessed yet another political scandal that has rocked our country, the ZTE Broadband Scam wherein former COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos with the apparent blessings of the First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo was said to have asked for a commission of US$ 130 Million or a whopping 6 Billion Pesos in exhange for his influencing our government's decision to award the broadband deal to ZTE, a Chinese Telecommunications Company. To make this happen, the ZTE Broadband Contract was greatly overpriced at US$ 329 Million and worse, the government to be able to make this deal push through would have to loan this amount from the Chinese government. In short, the US$ 130 Million kickback of Abalos and his cohorts will have to be paid for by our tax money.
To make things even worse, the govenrment tried its darn best to cover this deal by pressuring Joey De Venecia, the first star witness to stop talking abouit this in the Senate and in public, Joey didn't want to cover up the truth thus, Malacañang led by the congressman sons of President GMA led a revolt at Congress which ousted Joey's dad, then Speaker Jose De Venecia. The next star witness whose courage we so admire, Jun Lozada initially didn't want to go to the Senate and take part in their investigation because as he said, if he ends up in the Senate, he will be forced to say the Truth. Again, our government tried every trick to ensure that Lozada wouldn't be able to testify in the Senate, leading to his alleged kidnapping as soon as he arrived from Hong Kong where he hid for a few days. Two men picked up Lozada as soon as he got out of the plane and brought him around Metro Manila and even to Laguna against his will. If that can happen to Jun Lozada, that can happen to every Filipino in this country. In Jun Lozada's words, when he was picked up against his will, he already thought about the late Bobby Dacer who at the height of the Erap impeachment was also picked up by unidentified men and after weeks of looking for him, they finally found his body along with the body of his driver.
I can go on and on about this but the point is, this government has continued to steal our people's money from under our nose and they continue doing this because they know they can get away with it. Just look at the many scandals that have rocked the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which we already have no idea what happened like the 1 Billion Peso Fertilizer Scam and the Hello Garci Scandal. As Jun Lozada further said in his testimony at the Senate, the Standard Operating Procedure in our country now is that every government contract is overpriced by 20%, the 20% goes to the pockets of our government leaders who helped in pushing the deal. This is indeed very disappointing since 6 Billion Pesos can help build so many classrooms for our public school students, it can provide so many college scholarships to deserving students, it can help build public hospitals so people can receive proper health care and it can provide adequate housing to thousands of families. But in this case, 6 Billion Pesos will just end up in the pockets of one or maybe a few families and worse, we will all have to pay for their greed.
Nakakainis at Nakakagalit ang nangyayari sa ZTE Deal na to, harap harapan na tayong ginagago ng gobyerno natin and as one of my students in class said, he wouldn't be surprised if another scandal comes out within the next few months... it seems that Malacañang is already so used to scandals because they know they will eventually get away with it once media and the public grow tired of hearing about these scandals. Pero para sa akin, mas nakakalungkot na parang walang pakialam at walang ginagawa ang karamihan sa kabataang Pilipino sa mga nangyayaring ito, it seems that the Filipino Youth which led the charge in EDSA 2 is nowhere to be found. Could it be that the Filipino Youth has given up all Hope for making this country great again? Could it be the Filipino Youth has given up in its fight for a clean and effective government? Has the youth given up on our future? I hope I am wrong because what is at stake here is not just my future or the future of the poor, it is our shared future that we have to continue to fight for. Ayaw ba natin na dumating ang araw na bawat Pilipino pwede nang magkaroon ng kalidad na edukasyon? Ayaw ba natin na dumating ang araw na hindi na natin kailangang mag abroad at mahiwalay sa pamilya para magakaroon ng magandang trabaho? If we can all work together and join forces, we can show this administration that we will not just sit idly while they continue to corrupt and destroy our future, remember that in 2010 the Filipino Youth will be able to elect the next President of our country.
Let us not wait till then to make a change, let us act now, our country needs US Now!
If you want to help and be part of a youth-led initiative that will push for genuine and lasting reforms in our government, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can help by forwarding this email to your friends who might be interested to help. Let's meet, Let's Talk and Let's all work together for our country.
*Harvey Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship of the Ateneo de Manila-School of Government and a Lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Schools' Development Studies Program and Department of Theology. Harvey is also Executive Director of AHON Foundation, a corporate foundation of Filway Marketing, Inc. that helps build public elementary school libraries.