PHILIPPINE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGES: A CALL FOR FILIPINO PARTICIPATIONI have been constantly traveling these past three years and I am now inured to flight interruptions settling in some sordid and noisy airport lounges, but I never really get bored. Paradoxically, I tolerate these intrusions as I have learned to occupy myself by catching up on my reading – not so much the newspapers but magazines and books.
Would you believe that I have in my carry-all (no check in baggage for me) the latest TIME, NEWSWEEK and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazines plus at least 6 months’ worth of back issues? To top it all, I have 22 books with me, ranging from Sun Tsu’s “Art of War” to Walt Whitman’s book on poetry “Leaves of Grass” to Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” to what I am currently reviewing – “The History of Modern Europe 1792-1878” by an obscure author, Charles Alan Fyffe.Sounds impressive! Nah! Not by any chance, I might say.
I have not really read these books. I just download them to my IPAD because they’re free. In between playing “The Angry Birds” or “Solitaire” and looking at the pictures & video capture of my grandson which occupy most of my traveling time, I get to glance at these books. I don’t think I will ever finish reading them for the rest of my lifetime.I owe a lot of my life style changes to Steve Jobs, for inventing the IPAD. You can download a hundred books to this wonderful machine and still spare a few more megabytes for movies. You should all get one like this for yourselves.
The reason I used this in the introduction of my talk today is not because I am being frivolous. I want to refer you to one interesting historical phrase in one of the books about Europe, encapsulating an epoch known as the Holy Roman Empire. This is one of the interesting historical myths of European history. The Holy Roman Empire was neither, holy, nor even roman - much less an empire.
We have many myths in this country too, perpetrated by our rulers & political leaders either calculatedly by design to preserve their prerogatives and advance their interests or simply by sheer ignorance of political realities. Such is the nature of myths – easily believable, invariably defying reason and over time, if not debunked, take root in people’s consciousness.One of the grandiose myths is that the Philippines is the oldest democracy in Asia. America has decreed, before we were let loose by her in the post-war, that democracy was right for us and when we assumed self-government after World War 2, we proclaimed ourselves proudly an independent democratic country – despite the evidence to the contrary. Our next speaker, Jordan Antolin will attempt to demystify this proposition with his talk on “The 10 Questions on Democracy”.
Let me however lay down the predicate by pointing the glaring deficits: PHILIPPINE POLITICAL DEFICITS1. We are a Weak Nation with a Soft State. We cite Dr.JoseAbueva’s arguments showing that the state is unable to apply the law equally to all its citizens; our institutions are captives of the oligarchy and they serve mostly the interest of the few rich and powerful politicians; and our leaders have failed to unite and inspire our diverse peoples as a nation.
2. We have a Dysfunctional Body Politic. The dominance of the agenda of the oligarchy, those moneyed few, the political dynasties, clans and cabals who get their candidates elected allow legitimate capture of state institutions by these few. They build on this and perpetuate themselves in power, positions and wealth. Any threat is met by these dynasts using state institutions to protect their prerogatives. (An example is the Maguindanao/Ampatuan Massacre).
3. Power is too centralized. Periphery of governance therefore is neglected.The Philippine Government Structure concentrates too much power in central government and a highly centralized bureaucracy. Most of the decisions that affect the lives of the citizenry are embedded, legally and constitutionally although abnormally, in the executive department or the Presidency. So many concerns are passed on to the attention of the chief executive unnecessarily - paralyzing the office in the process.The citizens are not allowed to decide on matters that will affect directly their own lives – and therefore they are not responsible for these actions by government and they have no clear stake in them.
4. Economic System is controlled and monopolized by the Oligarchy – The Taipans with the likes of Lucio Tan, Gokongwei, Henry Sy and company.Philippine Economy is controlled by a few powerful monopolies, cartels and conglomerates distorting the competition in their favor; intimidate and oppress the few competitors and make the market hostile for entrance of newcomers and their flowering. As a consequence: •Less capitalized individuals with no connections to families controlling large segment of the economy have less chances entering the market; •Productivity and competitiveness are lower in the country compared to our neighbors in Asia; •We can’t grow our wealth to provide the means available for social security and income distribution for the benefit of the disadvantaged and weaker members of society; and •We do not have enough means for providing good education, health care and work opportunities for the citizenry.
With this cursory review of the decadent Philippine conditions, the centrist democrats have adopted guiding principles and embarked on these specifics:We must strive to create a truly functioning Democracy and the Rule of law ;We must help to build up strong and sustainable political parties;We must endeavor to establish a thriving Social Market Economy; andWe must work for the adoption and practice the principle of subsidiarity in all structures of governance.These four (4) governing principles of the Centrist Democracy are intertwined in so many ways and they form the collective substance of the Centrist Democratic Dogma. They help illuminate the sordid state of affairs in the country that have been plaguing us for many decades and give us directions to mitigate, correct and eliminate the failures and also reinforce the good, the positive and the successes of Philippine society.
There are other myths we need to deflate as this is timely, now that the CDP has been granted the consent by COMELEC to operate as a national political party.I will cite two of these fables that prevented a real rupture from the traditional politics practiced in this country: The 1st is that we need brand names to propel this political party to a position of dominance and therefore personalities are indispensable; and2nd, elections in the Philippines are very expensive and we need patrons to put in the money.These considerations reflect the mind-set of the so called political cognoscenti, the spectators of the political game who are accustomed to the type of politics practiced over the decades – one that has given a dirty name to political technocracy. Such dastardly practices are the motivations that strike deep into the heart of why in the first place we need a new but totally different political party – in fact a real no-nonsense political party.
For too long personalities are the dominant consideration by the current political parties in putting up candidates arrayed for the electorate’s choice; the crowd drawing appeal, the electability factor – notwithstanding their capability, competence and even moral standing.Let it now be known that the CDP is not into the politics of personalities. We advocate the politics of ideas, the clash of ideologies – that will elicit only the best for the voter’s considerations; while at the same time uplifting them by respecting, honoring and acknowledging their dignity by presenting to them worthy choices.
To the 2nd canard: The CDP does not need a sponsor – a patron. The patronage system in Philippine politics has been the single most devastating malignancy. To put it succinctly, let me quote the eminent former Chief Justice Reynato Puno:“I like to stress the failure of our electoral system to excise the virus of the politics of patronage that has infected our so called elections…xxx…This vicious politics of patronage has allowed few oligarchs and bosses to rule us from colonial times to post-colonial times and their rule has brought us nothing but a facade of democracy, its mirage but not its miracle.”
Yes, this party is populated by non-entities, unknown with no brand names. Yes, we don’t have the money that traditionally old politics pay homage to and totally rely on. Yes, it will take time for a new and young party – an upstart to initiate all these changes. But look at it from this pragmatic way: We are not burdened by the baggage of the failed leadership – brand named traditional politicians who are no longer capable of learning new modes of good governance. They are a dying breed.Money, however essential is merely a tool and our lack of it is simply temporary. It can be raised through the masses of the populace not dependent on sponsors and patrons. This is the age of social networking and the internet – the natural environment of our dues-paying membership.
We have today the appearance of a phenomenon. A large politically conscious youth who has negated the current conditions of Philippine Society particularly its political underpinnings that leave much to be desired. This is the CDP.These are the young professionals who have a stake on the party and have decided to seize the day; to grab the moment and declare that henceforth they will attempt in their own way to manage their path to the future. These are the young and not so young who have retained not only their idealism but their natural youthful arrogance that they can alter the state of affairs for the good of society.These people understand that confronting the tyranny of old politics is not a walk in the park. It will not be much of a contest at the onset – but they are resilient and have a superior ability to learn and to adapt.Today COMELEC has sanctioned the arrival of a new player – the new kid on the block, the CDP. Henceforth we give notice that our resolve may be seen as a small ember of a fire – but it can turn into a conflagration. And burn, burn it will. And time is on our side.
A CALL FOR FILIPINO PARTICIPATION Lito Monico C. Lorenzana
Philippine Political Myths“The 10 Questions on Democracy”
PHILIPPINE POLITICAL DEFICITS1. We are a Weak Nation with a Soft State. …the state is unable to apply the law equally to all its citizens …our institutions are captives of the oligarchy …our leaders have failed to unite and inspire our diverse peoples as a nation Jose Abueva
2. We have a Dysfunctional Democracy. …This vicious politics of patronage has allowed few oligarchs and bosses to rule us from colonial times to post-colonial times and their rule has brought us nothing but a facade of democracy, its mirage but not its miracle.
3. Power is too centralized. Periphery ofgovernance therefore is neglected. …Most of the decisions that affect the lives of the citizenry are embedded, legally and constitutionally although abnormally, in the executive department or the Presidency
4. Economic System is controlled andmonopolized by the Oligarchy Philippine Economy is controlled by a few powerful monopolies, cartels and conglomerates distorting the competition in their favor
Democracy and the Rule of Law Sustainable political parties Social Market Principles Economy CDM’s Guiding Principle of subsidiarityCentrist Democratic Dogma
Fables of Philippine Politics 1st, we need brand names to propel this political party to a position of dominance 2nd, elections in the Philippines are very expensive and we need patrons to put in the money political cognoscenti
CDP advocates: Politics of ideas, the clash of ideologies Uplifting them by respecting, honoring and acknowledging their dignity
“I like to stress the failure of our electoral system to excise the virus of the politics of patronage that has infected our so called elections…xxx…This vicious politics ofFormer Chief Justice Reynato Puno patronage has allowed few oligarchs and bosses to rule us from colonial times to post-colonial times and their rule has brought us nothing but a facade of democracy, its mirage but not its miracle.”
Dues-paying membershipIt will take time for a new and young party – an upstart