It is now 2019 and there’s no doubt that every New Year ushers in so much hope and happiness as always here in the Philippines.
That as much as 9 out of every 10 Filipinos are hopeful of bright prospects for 2019 isn’t unusual. Optimism can be very high even among those who may have felt Christmas was sad and bleak.
Being Asia’s predominantly Catholic country, our perennial optimism comes from an unwavering trust and deep faith in God who certainly is the primary source of hope. “God always opens doors, He never closes them. He is the Father who opens doors for us,” Pope Francis said.
The sense of optimism among the faithful can be so overwhelming that it sustains enthusiasm to push on and face life’s challenges even amid many daunting odds and the prevalence of turmoil and so much negativity all around.
Indeed, while the New Year can inspire so much hope especially among those who see bright prospects up ahead, it cannot be denied that our country and the rest of the world could be in for rough sailing with more turmoil on the horizon this 2019.
On the international front, the ascension to power this January of US House Democrats spells trouble for US President Donald Trump, amid threats of numerous congressional inquiries on various controversies plaguing his administration.
Among the major controversies is one that concerns Saudi Arabia and the plan of Democrats to hold Trump accountable for his apparent refusal to rebuke Saudis for alleged involvement in the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which has also riled Republicans.
With both Democrats and Republicans expected to probe deeper into the role of Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammad bin Salman in the Khashoggi killing, many fear that subsequent actions and reactions have the potential to blow up and adversely affect oil prices and plunge the world into a deeper crisis that could hurt developing countries like the Philippines.
At the local front, the high prices of basic commodities that marked the last three months of 2018 has caused many Filipinos, according to a SWS survey last September, to be “pessimistic
that their quality of life would improve in the next 12 months.”
The high inflation rate has fueled fears that the scheduled fuel tax increase starting this January, as provided in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act would continue to make life difficult especially for the poorest of the poor.
While prices of imported fuel have gone down sharply due to oversupply, there’s no doubt that oil prices remains volatile and could spike at a moment’s notice due to various reasons.
Another main source of turmoil in 2019 is the upcoming May elections that seem to hold a promise of being more violent as ever, with so many public officials getting killed nowadays.
Many are fearful that this year’s elections will be no different from previous ones that have shown the full extent of our electoral dysfunction: Election-related violence, patronage politics, corruption, alliances of unprincipled opportunists, vote-buying, fraud, and a host of other ills afflicting our political spectrum.
As the election campaign shifts to high gear in the coming months, the compassionate, competent, and God-fearing politicians who genuinely have their constituents’ interests at heart might not stand a chance against all the dirty tricks and maneuverings to muddle issues and sow doubt and confusion in the public discourse.
But let us bear in the mind the Holy Bible’s warning of perilous times and perilous men (2 Timothy 3), those who will be “unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good” whom people should turn away from. “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of [the] gullible….”
It is essential for all of us to extensively analyze what are being presented so we can separate the chaff from the grain, and determine the outright lies and disinformation masquerading as truth. Though Philippine politics may not be ideal, let us not lose hope. There are still good men and women out there who can best lead us and bring about excellence in governance.
Let us seek God’s guidance for us to discern and fully support not only the lesser evil but the truly excellent politicians who can inspire positive change and bring much needed relief for all Filipinos. Amid these tumultuous times, may our country be blessed with better times ahead. Happy New Year!
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