CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/18 August)–It’s still so early but there’s already so much talk of what’s going to happen in 2016 and beyond. But we hear little or nothing about what to do or focus on till then in order to assure our society a smoother progression into the future.
Ideally it would be the president [who must] facilitate discussion on a vision for the future—immediate, medium term, long term—or propose his own ideas; but it may be asking too much.
Nevertheless, one can hope there are far-sighted, strategic thinkers in our society to oblige with their own thoughts.
One suggestion Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III might entertain is the idea of complementing, extending, or building on his mother’s legacy, which was the restoration of our basic freedoms and democracy.
Toward that end, P-Noy could see to the creation of a social-political framework in which genuine democracy can thrive and be institutionalized. By this I mean establishing the essential policies and structures that promote or guarantee full play of democratic processes and institutions.
This he can do by defining/identifying what restraining forces keep our democracy and politics immature and dysfunctional—then proceed to generate societal responses on how to remedy them.
One restraining force for instance is the unhealthy dominance of political dynasties in our political system. This has its counterpart in the control of big business as a monopoly of a few families, a fact that keeps stretching the gap between the rich and the poor ever wider.
These are worthy issues in our beleaguered society, but they don’t ever get to be discussed, let alone addressed by our putative leaders. It takes statesmanship to tackle them. Has P-Noy learned to be a statesman?
Ever since EDSA and President Cory’s administration, these items have remained on the pending tray of our national agenda.
P-Noy can well afford to grapple with them in the remaining time he has—unless he has effectively developed a fondness for staying on via Cha Cha, which by no means is assured.
Another issue is the natural adjunct to his Daang Matuwid, namely, establishing rule of law more effectively—without which his mantra is just wishful thinking and a corny slogan.
Then there’s the weakness of governance on all levels that remain unaddressed, with the so-called state policy of autonomy in ersatz operation—local government units continue to rely on connections at high places and partisan sycophancy for their needs.
And of course, there’s people’s empowerment. Nothing has been done to empower those who are not in power—the citizens. Power remains concentrated in the entrenched ruling class of traditional politicians. True democracy demands active participation of all sectors, operating within a system of checks and balances, with no one group or class overpowering another.
But thus far, democracy and its processes, as are our freedoms, are taken for granted. There’s no program to integrate their principles and practices in our people’s value system.
Citizens and political institutions need education, nurture, and guides on how to be good citizens in thought, word and deed.
There’s also the question of nominal political parties: no platforms, no programs on which to base which one(s) to support or patronize. Parties are supposed to provide the menu for good governance to aid the electorate in making intelligent or informed decisions.
But the so-called political parties don’t even bother to prepare or provide proper platforms of government. They bastardize politics and reduce elections to nothing more than political beauty contests, cockfights, or bruising brawls. Even the Commission on Elections fails to require proper credentials or actual implementation of “paper” platforms as requisite for accrediting the parties.
Even the need to orient or mobilize civil society on their proper role in creating the environment for democracy has been neglected. They are inutile politically, unable to protect their members from the evils of patronage politics and feudal-minded trapos.
These are only some of the major items on our society pending agenda. Why leave them to P-Noy’s successors? We need to tackle them now so that democracy and our political institutions can flourish. (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 of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. Reader’s may reach him at [email protected])