Shatter the myth of "good governance"

Communist Party of the Philippines
August 30, 2012

For close to two weeks now, the ruling Aquino regime, its yellow army of public opinion spinmeisters and reformist circles have been whipping up a propaganda frenzy in the media over the death of Jesse Robredo. Robredo, former long-time mayor of Naga City and Aquino's interior and local government secretary, died in a plane crash on August 18 off the northern coast of Masbate island.

Not a few grieved over Robredo's passing. He was a novelty of a politician who styled himself differently from the rest of the dirty rascals. His simple life of traveling by bus, jogging in the public plaza and donning slippers and simple dressware set him apart from the heavily escorted, power-tripping and fashionista politicians and state officials. To many who had grown tired and cynical of the rottenness of Philippine politics and bureaucracy, Robredo was a breath of fresh air.

His potential as a poster boy of "transparency" was not lost to the World Bank and its retinue of "good government" promoters. He was extolled as the paragon of "ethical and empowering leadership" in the continuing ideological drive to revive the illusions of democracy and conceal what is essentially a dictatorship of the ruling class elite in the government and political system.

High-ranking government officials saw the advantage of having him in government, even as a mere decorative piece, to draw attention away from all the sordidness of the reactionary bureaucracy, and reduce even by a small fraction the people's overriding contempt of the ruling political system. Local and foreign big business and the World Bank considered him an invaluable asset to the "good governance" movement that they sought to build.

Robredo is now bigger in death than in life, with all the posthumous accolades and awards accorded him by the reactionary state, the yellow crowd of old landlord millionaires, the World Bank, the super-rich big compradors, Aquino's socdem allies of various stripe and his coterie of dirty politicians, both old and young. His death has now become an occasion for the reactionary political elite and their jackals to up their propaganda and beguile the middle class with such catchphrases as "transparency", "upright leadership", "the righteous path" and "good governance" and condemn them to living in a paralytic state of reformist illusion.

However, underneath all this hype by Aquino, by the Ateneans and Lasalistas, by the Akbayan, the Black & White and the Kaya Natin boys and girls, the myth of "good government" under the current reactionary system has never really meant much to the ordinary Juans and Juanas. This is not a personal rebuke of Robredo, of his simplicity, amiability or fairness as a person, of which much has been spoken. But when it comes down to the people's fundamental yardsticks, Aquino's "good governance" rhetoric miserably falls short.

"Good governance" is portrayed as an effort to build a government that is "more responsive" to the needs of the people. The World Bank promoters push for "transparency" in government purchases, of "online bidding systems" and "freedom of information" as solutions to corruption. They put forward a somewhat naive view of corruption, which in reality permeates the bureaucratic system and is a way of life to the dominant cacique economic elite both in local and national politics. The much bigger corruption is how the ruling class elite use the full range of state power to enact laws and push policies that serve their class interests and oppress and exploit the majority of the people.

One cannot ignore the hypocrisy with which the World Bank speaks of "good government" when a close study of the history of bureaucratic corruption in the Philippines will reveal the large part played by the WB and the IMF in encouraging corruption in the granting of state-guaranteed loans to white elephant projects and overpriced roads and bridges. The World Bank today speaks of "good government" only because the system it has engendered in the Philippines and other debt-ridden countries has made the operations of foreign big business costly and inefficient.

Benigno Aquino III has fed the people with large quantities of "good government" propaganda over the past three years. He has dished out the phrases "matuwid na daan" and "walang wangwang" ad nauseum. But try as he may to camouflage his cacique ways and politics of old with such rhetoric, he continues to fail miserably in capturing the people's broad support.

To the broad masses of the people, Aquino's "good governance" fails to go beyond the big words sprawled on government tarpaulin banners. After three years of "walking the righteous path," Aquino has failed to address the problems faced by ordinary people on a daily basis: unemployment, low wages, rising costs of food, transportation, electricity, water and medicine, dengue, leptospirosis and other diseases and epidemics, lack of public health facilities, lack of public sanitation, environmental degradation and the resultant calamities.

In terms of economic policy, Aquino's "matuwid na daan" bears no fundamental difference from all the governments that preceded his regime since 1946. There is no land reform, no significant wage increase, no program for national industrialization or building a self-reliant and modern economy. Attracting foreign investors and creditors is Aquino's cornerstone policy. Everything must follow from this. Give them land. Give them mining concessions. Give them cheap labor. Give them infrastructure. Give them "cha-cha". Guarantee their loans. Guarantee their profits. Aquino's "good government" is "good government" for foreign big capitalists, their local partners and big landlords.

In the political arena, "good governance" does nothing but masquerade the dominance of cacique politics, patronage and influence peddling, dirty maneuverings and unprincipled alliances. Behind the giant "good governance" tarpaulin, not even Robredo could escape the political game of thrones, patronage and accomodation. His appointment to the DILG post was on an ad interim basis. He was not given control over the PNP, where the procurement of firearms and equipment has always been a juicy source of corruption. Robredo was said to be secretary only in name. His appointment was never confirmed owing to the dirty political maneuvers of others who coveted his position.

In an effort to boost the ruling regime's "good governance" propaganda and preserve Robredo as its official poster boy, Aquino has gone to the extent of raising him to the status of a national hero, complete with the pomp of a state funeral.

This contrivance, however, is lost on the mass of toiling people, who have long been disenchanted with Aquino's endless but empty promises of "reform". The more Aquino repeats his "good governance" rhetoric while cutting spending on social services, blocking wage increases and standing inutile in the face of spiralling prices, the more that the slogan loses meaning to the people who suffer from these policies.

The Filipino people must shatter the myth of "good governance", expose and reject it as nothing but a World Bank-sponsored ideological offensive to draw them away from the path of opposing the policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization.

Workers, peasants, the unemployed and poor people, students, teachers, ordinary employees and small businesses daily suffer from Aquino's subservience to the IMF-WB and to the demands of the US and the foreign big capitalists and its local big comprador partners, bureaucrat capitalists and big landlords. The downtrodden classes are fully justified in blazing the path of revolutionary struggle to put an end to the rotten, oppressive and exploitative social system.