Sunday, April 02, 2006

Humala or himala

Manuel L. Quezon III blogs, “The lack of clarity as to what comes next . . . has the middle class and others in mortal terror of a state of general disorder and lawlessness,” as if to say only a miracle (himala) could save the middle class from the dire consequences of venturing into the unclear and uncertain.

In A season to be jolly, my inaugural entry in Red’s Herring, I suppose I have put forth the following observations relative to mlq3’s angst:
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 borne 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 Filipinos have actually three choices for a change process today:

1) Personnel change
2) Regime change
3) Radical restructuring of the political, social and economic order.

Personnel change is what happened in the turnover of power during People Power II. The Supreme Court convenient abracadabra: a case of “constructive resignation” it was. Hence, Vice-President Arroyo took office as the constitutional successor of the “resigned” President Estrada. The coup de grace about the immediate return to the status quo ante was the announcement of Arroyo, now president, at her first Vin d’ Honneur two days after: “During my administration democracy and the market will be the guiding principles of my domestic and foreign policies.” She did not want to be a magician, just a “good president,” she would later explain. Arroyo may have breached that last promise, but not her avowed business-as-usual governance approach, i.e., the continuance of the ancien regime, a true revolution in a literal sense as it means a return to the same state of affairs.

Regime change, from authoritarian reign to a democratic republic, is what had taken place during People Power I. The Yellow Revolution ended Marcos one-man rule and the people regained their civil liberties and political rights. But the Aquino government fell far short on social and economic reforms. There was the sense that without social and economic justice, a democratic regime would remain meaningless to most Filipinos. The middle class too felt relatively deprived as the comparable economies of neighboring countries began to transform to a coveted “tiger” status even as these hardworking Filipinos found theirs joined the laggards in the region or in fact slid into a humiliating basket case role. As a result, many decided to opt out of the social arrangement. The self-content economic elites that the Aquino clan represents could not provide them a decent choice to slug it out in their homeland. To many of them the opportunity could not match their aspirations. (Still does as Dawin relates a touchy piece about a rather well-off bossom buddy leaving the country for good “to secure a better future” for his family).

Radical restructuring is a scary proposition, no doubt. However, is any Filipino of note, one who has any chance of being at the helm, entertaining it at all? For one thing, the last presidential elections have confirmed the absence of ideological or substantive wedge issues that markedly differentiated one presidential aspirant from the other. The candidates’ menus were one and the same, in terms of what they want to bring to the table. On the other hand, when China and Russia today are not only embracing the market but inching closer to democracy as well, what alternative can the Philippine Left offer that’s appealing to the middle?

I was not merely engaging in rhetorical verbosity when I urged the following in another entry:
What our communities and the country need today is to act decisively upon certain arrangements on the basis of a national consensus that is motivated not by any sense of defeatism and despondency but out of the awareness that the possibilities are great precisely when together we adhere to the spirit of Bayanihan and the practical realities of interdependence. And the promises of accomplishing what’s hoped could not be any more immense than by going forward with the alternative of mobilizing the great Filipino common sense and trusting the resources and harmony of many minds.

In the context of a socially energizing force that’s distinctively Filipino, one possible alternative proposition . . . to the robber baron, the zaibatsu, the chaebol or [Taiwan's] countryside industrialization model is: whether the gateway to equitable accumulation and ultimately national development could also be accessed by way of the power of consensus of people power democracy that’s willing to learn from the best practices that work and, based on ongoing experience and rising above ideologies, eschew things that don’t, or change even established notions and practices when concrete realities and the complex necessities for change in the service of the common good require.
The point being driven is that revolutionary changes are all-too possible to occur peacefully and within the existing system.

For example, in marked contrast to his pro market rival, Peru’s Ollanta Humala, a former army officer, has pledged in an interview with Financial Times to do the following without “(acting) outside of the law” if he wins the presidential elections scheduled next week: 1) to vary the contracts with foreign investors such as global miners that are currently exempt from paying royalties (Peru has the most productive goldmine in the world); 2) to introduce “21st-century nationalization” by changing the constitution to give the state greater than just subsidiary role in the economy, nationalizing strategic sectors (LAN Chile has a monopoly on air travel in Peru), restricting textile imports from China “to protect small productive companies” and blocking investment from neighboring Chile (from bidding in port concessions); 3) to renege on the yet-to-be-ratified trade deal Peru has agreed with Washington; 4) to not tolerate US military presence in Peru; and 5) to end US-sponsored eradication of coca - the raw material for cocaine, for which Peru receives some $100 million a year US aid - that “prevent us from industrializing and exporting legitimate cocoa products.”

“The constitution gave a lot of power to foreign companies,” Humala was quoted by FT to have declared on the campaign trail. “It created economic growth but not development,” he added. As the frontrunner in Peru's presidential elections, he evokes the confidence that radical but peaceful solutions are possible in his country.

Is anyone in the Philippines who considers himself or herself as an alternative to Arroyo thinking as loud as Humala?


Blogger cvj said...

A presidential system is more likely to deliver a Filipino 'Humala' or 'Evo Morales'. A parliamentary system will most likely mean a leader chosen among politicos or big business.

April 03, 2006 11:16 AM  
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