Editorial: End game

IT WAS House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who first blurted out the term “crab mentality” when he struck back at Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon after the latter described the Philippines’ P50 million cauldron, which will be used for the SEA Games opening, an “unnecessary extravagance.”

Since then, it had become the term of choice netizens supportive of the administration used against anyone who criticized the Philippine hosting of the grand event.

“Crab mentality” refers to a way of thinking in which one can’t stand the success of another and, therefore, pulls down anyone who gets ahead, a behavior observed among crabs in a bucket.

While the criticisms certainly aren’t innocent of excesses, some of them fueled by fake news and by the perennial foes of the administration, there were also a good number of verifiable facts that, indeed, proved that the SEA Games’ hosting left a good number of areas wanting.

A P7.5 billion budget is not something taxpayers can be complacent about, regardless of other circumstances where budgets were bigger and whatnot. It’s a large amount, made even perceptively larger in the midst of budget cuts in health, education, among others. Just when the free education law takes flight, funds were slashed by P7.1 billion. And who can avert one’s eyes from the suffering of farmers, worst hit by the Rice Tariffication Law?

You simply can’t blame taxpayers for their anxieties over a P50 million cauldron. Despite government’s justification that it is “art” and a source of national pride, the ultimate disconnect comes when they think politicians aren’t really the best custodians of our coffers. There is always, as a matter of unfortunate tradition, corruption where citizens are least vigilant.

So it is not “crab mentality” by any form or substance. Not at all. It is simply vigilance and holding officials accountable for whatever excesses and irregularities that attend every little transaction via the P7.5 billion budget. What government promised to be “world-class” is simply bursting at the seams.

One can’t help but wonder, for instance, why the cauldron, supposedly the ceremonial center of the SEA Games opening, was built in Clark when the opening ceremonies take place in Bulacan, at the Philippine Arena.

So meantime, as we light the torch, we cheer for our athletes, pray for a fierce gold haul like the angry eagles that we had always been. On the side, document properly all the feats, shortcomings and excesses that the officials have committed. Hold them accountable, hand them over their inevitable end-game.