OUR team from Las Vegas and other states just completed our annual medical missions, first in Alaminos, Laguna (February 4-8), followed by another in Kamay ni Hesus Pilgrimage Center in Lucban, Quezon, (February 8-12).
The following morning after we returned to Manila on February 12, my wife, Farida, and I, took a cab to San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, where I grew up, to visit with my sister and brother-in-law who were from Raleigh, North Carolina, on a separate medical mission and to staying at our family home.
On the way there, the taxi driver pointed to a large yellow and green G Liner bus and said “Yang bus na yan kay Erap; yan lang and pwedeng magpasada dito.” (That bus company is owned by Erap – nickname of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, former president of the Philippines – and that’s the only bus allowed to do business in this part of the city).
So, I inquired why the monopoly. “Walang utak at integridad po yan at tuso pa, oportunista, numero unong kurakot, at maraming babae,” (He does not have the brain nor integrity and is greedy, an opportunist, number 1 corrupt, and has many mistresses), he responded.
Since he was jailed for corruption, plunder, before, I asked how did he win as mayor. He said, “Kasi ho karamihan ng taong bumoboto ay torpe, at stupido, marami walang pinagaralan…mabayaran lang ng limang daan or isang libo, iboboto nila kahit na si satanas. Sa hueteng lang po, billion ang nanakaw ni Erap; dapat ho sa plunder, nakulong siya pang habang buhay, at hindi naging mayor (Because, sir, the majority of people who are voting are dumb and stupid, most uneducated…paid 500 or 1000 pesos, they would vote even for Satan. From the illegal numbers game alone, sir, Erap has stolen billions; for plunder, he should have been imprisoned for life and did not become Mayor).”
Why couldn’t Congress get rid of graft and corruption, I tried to egg him on, because I was fascinated by the refreshing sense this man was making, underneath his uncombed hair, shabby looking shirt, and ignorant-appearing demeanor. Obviously, beneath this rather unimpressive cover is a fascinating patriot, filled with great wisdom, sense of justice, integrity, and honor.
“Kasi po, halos lahat ng mga nasa congress, senado, ay corrupt din, magnanakaw, kaya hindi nila mapipigil ang presidente at iban pang opisyales (Because almost all legislators are also corrupt and are thieves themselves, the reason why they could not stop the president and other government officials).”
I asked how he would rate President Duterte, he said he was originally from Davao and moved to Manila in 1999, and was a supporter the current president when he was mayor of Davao, but was very disappointed now because almost all of those thousands killed in “Tokhang” were addicts and not drug lords. He added that Duterte has not gotten rid of corrupt legislators and all the thieves are still in Congress instead of in prison.
“Kung ang mga pinatay ay ang mga kurap na senador at congresista, at hindi young mga daan daang drug addicts, mas napabuti sana ang ating bansa (If those hundreds who were killed were the corrupt senators and congressmen, instead of the drug addicts, our nation would have been better off),” he said with great disdain.
Unlike most writers and commentators in the media, this driver did not mince words and did not care to be politically correct. He was fiercely angry and very vocal about the graft and corruption in the government, the injustice in our society, and doubted if the president was not himself corrupt.
“Yun imbestigasyon ng mga anomalya at plunder, kamukha noong kay Binay at pamilya nya, yung kay Gloria Macapagal, kay Duterte…nawala na, tahimik na…walang hustisya dito (The investigation of anomalies and plunder, like the ones against Binay and his family, against Gloria Macapagal, against Duterte…all have stopped and now silent…there is no justice here),” the driver lamented.
My wife, who is a pediatrician, asked him about the Dengvaxia controversy.
“Delikado ho yaan sa publiko; ngayon, matatakot na lahat ng magulang at hindi na aayun na magpabakuna ang mga anak nila, kahit na anong bakuna. Sayang lang ang mga bakunang na imbento (That’s dangerous for the public, now the parents are scared and will not allow their children to be vaccinated, no matter what vaccine. It is a waste of “discovered” vaccines),” he said. Farida later told me she could not have said it any better.
We have talked to several taxi drivers in the past and we find most of them misinformed or uninformed, expressing their own “expert” opinions, but this driver appeared to be an exception. Farida and I were very amused and impressed. We told him we wished he could be interviewed by the media to share his words of wisdom and to inspire others.
Why couldn’t our government officials, legislators; supposedly educated and cultured, have the wisdom and integrity of this man on the street? Why aren’t they able to effectively police themselves to end graft and corruption in our government and serve our people with dignity and honor?
It is not that hard to determine who are corrupt. The government could hire renowned foreign actuarial firms, which could actually compute accurately the assets, liabilities, and net worth of a person from the day he was born, and find out how much unexplained wealth any person or government official has. This will easily expose the criminals in our government.
But the question is, would the president, chief justice, or Congress have the balls and the integrity to initiate such a move? Or would this be a self-incriminating and a suicidal act? Who is innocent and beyond reproach to cast the first stone?
Perhaps I am too naïve to understand, and too dumb to accept; the ugly and sad reality that is holding our country and people hostage.
As the driver pointed out, the blame is on us. “We, the People,” voted these previously known corrupt officials and thieves into office, time after time, only for them to continue to ravage our country and walk in the halls of Congress all the way to their banks, here and abroad.
The uneducated and poor people who sell their votes at least have an excuse — to help feed their family — but the educated rich and middle class, who are part of the majority who voted the crooked officials into office bear more of the blame and shame. Strictly speaking, allowing plunderers to hold office, enabling them to destroy our country, is tantamount to treason.
Indeed, we deserve the monster we have created and the devastation it is causing our nation and our people.
Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org