Everybody’s a critic

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. Everyone is entitled to express his opinion but not to complain when others disagree. Everyone is entitled to object to a government policy but not to simply whine.

Brendan Behan was an Irish Republican, poet, short-story writer, novelist and playwright who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish writers and poets of all time. Behan wrote: “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”

The issues facing the Philippines are important and deserve deep and lengthy discussion. The Philippine government has flaws in its decision-making process and results, as do all organizations. Everyone knows that. However, what the nation needs is constructive criticism defined as offering thought-out alternatives.

Regarding the new tax law, we have seen objections to the tax on 11-kilogram cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas by computing the impact as if each person in a household of six were buying his or her own tank. Others have distorted the numbers by projecting future tax increases on other petroleum products as if it were imposed immediately.

We have the intellectual dishonesty of, on one hand, speaking of the unhealthy intake of too much sugar-sweetened beverages, and then complaining about having to pay more tax on those products. Further, as critics so effectively pointed out, the proposed tax on 3-in-1 coffee products was silly in terms of limiting sugar consumption and would impact more harshly on the lower economic classes and working people. And that provision was dropped from the new law.

Further, the tax law took months to formulate and there was plenty of time for objections to be heard and they were heard. If the final law did not meet the expectations of the critics, here is a big surprise for them. That is what happens in a democratic system of government as opposed to a dictatorship. A free system cannot please everyone. An authoritarian system pleases only one. But you better be the one in charge.

The seemingly never-ending situation of the Chinese incursion into Philippine territory pleases no one. And everyone would like to have their cake and eat it, too, by kicking the Chinese out and yet keeping healthy relations with that government. Where is the “magic bullet” for this problem? The Duterte administration’s most vehement critic apparently had 16 meetings with Chinese representatives during the Aquino presidency. Yet, that accomplished little. So what is his solution today?

While President Duterte’s approval and trust rating remains high, that is not to say there are no legitimate concerns from all of us. But, perhaps, the president has those high ratings because his “critics” offer little in the way of concrete and sensible alternatives to this administration’s policies. The nation needs to hear other voices. Those voices need to be saying that which is in the best interests of the country, not a particular political agenda.


Turning Points 2018
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