Programmed Helplessness

Too many problems have been confronting the Filipino people. To effectively confront these problems and issues, tough but obvious solutions can be implemented. However, the Arroyo government refuses to act decisively, claiming it could not do anything about it or at best, implements peripheral solutions. This is programmed helplessness.


The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted of raping a Filipina “Nicole”, should be taken from the US embassy and placed under Philippine custody. At first, Arroyo government officials hemmed and hawed saying that it could do nothing but wait for the decision of the US government. Now, Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez – who appears to be always blocking efforts at attaining justice – is saying that the SC decision is too vague that it would allow Smith’s detention in the US.

Added to this, as the clamor for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement is gaining ground in Congress, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a staunch ally of the Arroyo government, said abrogating the VFA would do more harm than good. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, on the other hand, said the Senate would have to convince Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo first before it could abrogate the VFA.

It is unbelievable that the Arroyo government opts to do nothing despite the obvious disregard of the US government to the High Court’s decision. It could abrogate the VFA and fetch Smith from the US embassy, that is, if he is still there. The US did not waste any time in exerting efforts to take custody of Smith when he was detained at an office within the premises of the Makati City Jail. They cancelled the joint military exercises to pressure the Arroyo government into turning Smith over to the US then spirited him out of jail, with the help, of course, of Philippine authorities.


World oil prices are falling as the world economy slides deeper into recession – or more accurately depression – and demand for oil and gas is faltering. In fact, US stockpiles of oil and gas have been constantly increasing. However, defying the trend, local subsidiaries of giant oil firms have been recently increasing pump prices for no apparent reason. The Philippines is also the only country that experienced a shortage in LPG last month. There seems to be no supply shortage anymore but LPG prices have remained high.

Instead of repealing the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law and controlling local pump prices, all the Arroyo government does is to threaten that it would investigate oil firms for cartel practices. As the public very well knows, nothing comes out of it whenever the Arroyo government threatens to investigate or look into the books of oil firms. As soon as the issue dies down, so does the investigation.

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