Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A season to be jolly

There is one very good reason to be happy and optimistic about the present situation in the Philippines. The harmonization of heretofore disparate voices coming from a broad spectrum of the Philippine society appears to be on the threshold of reaching a consensus on the imperative for radical transformation. Paradoxically, this salutary development also presupposes that the system in place must now be let go. Recognizing that what should replace the system more than who should run it is the bigger challenge lying ahead could take some steam off the question of keeping or retaining the present national leadership.

The lesson learned from the two people power upheavals is clearer now: a change of the personalities of the political leadership without replacing a failed system in place is no transformation at all. Now people power practitioners are critically thinking through their alternatives; hence, they are not taking the streets precipitately or lending warm bodies to form the “hooting throng.” The hesitation seems not one born out of fear or frustration but more as an exercise of superior wisdom.

The Great Beast just does not want to be hoodwinked quite easily into entrusting again its fate to a supposedly better agency. This time, the sovereign particles refuse to serve as mere cannon fodders: they want to be a part of the process of transformation going forward. This way of behaving - instead of emaciating “people power” as even some well-meaning political observers suggest - fortifies the essence of the power because not only that it confronts the system in place according to the system’s own framework, it minimizes the likelihood of violent confrontation. Hence, the good reason and a season to rejoice.

The appeal therefore in the present “crisis” by status quo partisans (the United States, among them) to the rhetoric of constitutional process or rule of law rings hollow to the nearly half of the Filipino populace who are impoverished and excluded. The progressives, or the progressive intelligentsia in particular who sees the impoverishment and exclusion to be self-evident finds the same invocation as no more than a mendacious defense mechanism, and commencing to assess the crucial role it should assume next, poses the question: Can there be democracy, constitutional process or rule of law when only 60 families out of more than 80 million Filipinos dominate the Philippine economy and the top five families control almost 43 percent of the total listed corporate assets?

The system that for the last 100 years has benefited only the very, very few and ignored the plight of the vast, vast many is now forced to rely on a more cogent reason for continued being than by any plea to formalism or proceduralism. The perception is just about to become well-nigh ubiquitous that the national dilemma the systemic virulence has engendered through the generations past arguably transcends the “Gloriagate” and similar scandals in the past or for that matter the legal process of choosing a presidential successor.

This time it is not just the radicalized segments of the community who are articulating the recognition of the true nature of the problem. Just everyone else is conveying the same line and the chorus is converging to become the latest manifestation of people power with or without the tradition of street marching. Among the most prominent of these articulations is the recent pastoral letter issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the present controversy. Certainly, there remain voices of equivocation: preserve against the worse or change for the better. Still bolder strides are acknowledged for either direction. One thing is nowhere negated however: the principle of the people’s “last say” - the principle perchance now regarded more as a sword of Damocles of some kind to hasten enlightenment for the attainment of the good Philippine society.

Going forward, there will be a realization that the political class alone cannot lead the formation of the collective capacity for rediscovery and recreation like strategizing a successful challenge to the “tiger economies” of Asia, not to speak of the well-entrenched economic vanguards of First World countries. Neither can the same class (the trapos, if you will) remain as the perennial whipping boys for the country’s laggardness, economic or otherwise. The economic class must now begin to share this responsibility with the “politicos.” Hence, the need to put up a real challenge against regional competitors as well as those in the global arena, through a solid partnership between the State and private entrepreneurs. This can only succeed if the State/private business collaboration is driven by a strong sense of national identity and consciousness and through Filipino people power, no less.

This new dimension of people power requires more, not less, politics. But it should not be one that comes to the fore only when the fire is aflame and dies out when normalcy is perceived to have been recovered - the so-called ningas kugon variety. More politics means a people powered alternative, as against the elitist project, is now possible - if we believe the deeper anxieties of the various voices being heard - without the threat of violent confrontation.

How should such an alternative look like? It should first of all be defiant against the failed system in place. The existing one is borrowed (or imposed) after all. Historically, it is a system borne out of the uneven compromise between the American invaders and the ilustrado “collaborators” who had abandoned the cause of the Philippine Revolution. Its birthright is therefore one of anomaly by which the nation remains entrapped.

It is high time, so the cathartic formation builds on, to let the system in place go. And the strategy for letting-go requires first broad-based pluralism through inclusion and participation, with the voiceless being given a voice through their genuine representatives. Whereupon, there should be continuing willingness to re-discover, re-create and experiment to deepen democracy, the rule of law, and constitutionalism and thereby form a new public the Filipinos can call their very own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

just stopping by to say hey

January 23, 2013 3:25 PM  

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