CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/05 May) — Ours is supposed to be a Democracy. It means we should have equal rights and equal access to opportunities; that we are adhere to the Rule of Law; that we strive to be law-abiding; that we honor the Constitution; and that we respect the popular will.
Ours is also supposed to be a Republic. It means that Filipinos are supreme; their sovereignty sacrosanct; their authority inviolate, the popular will respected.
Most of us profess to be Christian, a religion founded on love, built on sacrifice. Others of different faiths also value life and all that it implies in terms of justice, fairness, and equal opportunity. So we can take pride in being God-fearing and compassionate while striving to live by the truth, which makes us free.
It is good that through our sense of hospitality we are appreciated as caring, thoughtful, and charitable in our relationships. Good that as we journey through life we share the companionship and the blessings of other great religions, notably Islam, which professes to be a religion of peace.
Population-wise, we are a society of about 100 million citizens, a polity reputed for being talented and well educated. This makes our nation a logical model for a modern democracy—with governance and politics grounded on the Law, backed by a large human pool consisting of 20 million or so families from which to draw for leadership, vision, and sense of mission.
But it is a curious phenomenon that with such a large human pool, we allow ourselves to be governed and controlled by a narrow class of patriarchs, matriarchs, and scions of only 250 families or less in 73 out of 80 provinces. Political dynasties! Most of them are in power by violating norms of engagement in a democracy—notably the Constitutional provision prohibiting political dynasties (Art II, Sec 26).
We need to clear our democracy
Needless to say, the existence of these dynasties is inconsistent with our democratic ideals. It negates our hopes for a society of equal opportunity. It disenfranchises millions of God-given talent that are left to languish and waste away on the margins of the community. They are deprived of the opportunity to serve by dynasties that arrogate to themselves the choice places at the center. In their arrogance and presumptuousness, these dynasties monopolize the powers and perks of office. They don’t/won’t yield to others (whom they view as inferior and undeserving).
How selfish they are, how greedy and gross, they won’t acknowledge. They just will not give way.
How to make them realize the greed they foster in people like themselves, that monopolizing public office is abhorrent in a free society, is a challenge to the community. Very simply, they are being un-Filipino and unchristian. An attitude and a behavior that deserve to be rebuked, repudiated… and shamed if need be!
Perhaps they don’t know what an oligarch is, and why it is anathema to a democratic order. Someone should tell them. Perhaps they’re overflowing with riches, so wealthy they don’t know what a plutocrat is and how hateful it is for wealth to be displayed where people agonize under grinding poverty and rank injustice.
Or perhaps they need to learn what equality means. That equal opportunity and fairness and statesmanship are essential to a democratic order. Do they believe in democracy at all? The community needs to teach them a lesson, to show them how important it is to let others take their turn…or throw them out!
Perhaps they don’t know the meaning of an open, upwardly mobile society, which is essential for social advancement and economic progress. In which case, they don’t deserve support. For it takes an expansive, liberal attitude to lead a community effectively to a higher level of development.
The right to serve and to offer one’s talent for the Common Good must be secured. No one has a monopoly of vision and intention, of dedication to service. And no family or clan has a monopoly of talent. Political dynasties, contrary to their belief, are not God’s gifts to society. Not only are they unqualified to pose as saviors of the community, they are great barriers to human progress and social advancement. Members of political dynasties should be ashamed of themselves! (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Manny Valdehuesa writes from Cagayan de Oro and is the president and national convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org)