CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/20 December)–One wonders whether as a people we’re really fit for freedom or independence. In a family, a measure of a person’s readiness to earn his freedom and independence is sense of responsibility or maturity—which are usually indicated by behavior that bespeaks wisdom and prudence to carry on as a responsible individual.
Social responsibility and political maturity could apply as well to a society that yearns for freedom and independence.
In our case, we already have freedom and independence as a nation, but our sense of responsibility and political maturity are debatable. There’s plenty to question about our behavior as a society.
During elections, for instance, when we have the opportunity to establish a government that we can trust, local or national, we choose candidates with dubious motives, attitudes, even loyalties.
We act like we don’t know that voting such people to positions of trust is inimical to the interests of society and a letdown for our republic’s need for good governance.
And so, we get dysfunctional governance and a corrupt public service—a contrarian phenomenon that typifies political immaturity.
Take what’s happening in the run up to the 2016 elections. Vice President Jejomar Binay, who lusts after the presidency, has made it known that his No. 1 pick for senator is Manny Pacquiao, an under-educated boxer with no background, aptitude, or demonstrated competence for public service.
For Jojo Binay to pick Pacman for a position requiring erudition and statesmanship is to inflict harm on our society. The guy can barely utter complete sentences, let alone expound coherent ideas! Nominating him is the height of social irresponsibility and political immaturity.
The Senate has an essential role in policy-making and legislation for our republic. A professional boxer’s popularity and billions in earnings cannot compensate for his ineligibility for the position.
If social responsibility is the mark of a politically-mature leader, especially for one seeking recognition as a statesman, then we have in the vice president an unfit and irresponsible choice for president.
It is enough—in fact, too much!—that the poor guy can’t even show up in the Lower House to warm the seat he doesn’t deserve. And it’s unacceptable political behavior that Pacman’s town mates reward him an honored seat in Congress for his pugilistic success.
It takes a stretch of imagination to accept that Jojo Binay actually thinks a “Senator Manny Pacquiao” is capable of tackling the treaty-making and United Nations-related issues required of the Upper Chamber.
Of course it’s VP Binay’s prerogative to make decisions according to his best judgment. But if his desire to enthrone a boxer—an exemplary one, to be sure—in the Upper House represents his best judgment, then God help us all!
As for the good people of Makati, if it’s their will to indulge the Binay patriarch by supporting his ill-fitting ambition, God have mercy on the Philippines with its generations of Filipinos who fall victim to social irresponsibility and political immaturity!
Other marks of political maturity are consistency and principled responses to issues. But we have this habit of clamoring for good governance even as we tolerate grafters and plunderers, thereby keeping our civilization from advancing.
As Christmas and New Year approach, we are warned against using firecrackers and other pyrotechnics. But firecrackers and pyrotechnic factories are allowed to operate anyway. Why allow these to be manufactured at all?
They bedevil our plazas, churchyards, parks, sidewalks, market places, and holiday crowds—and cause horrible injuries and casualties that fill up hospitals and medical clinics at a time when glad tidings and joy are being celebrated! It’s a monumentally immature and irresponsible behavior. (Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of the Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Govt’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. He is president/national convenor, Gising Barangay Movement Inc. you may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)