Monday, December 11, 2006

The Means is the Way

I haven't commented much on the political situation in the Philippines for some time. Mainly because of the monotony. Mainly because all the issues have, for some time, been drawn out ad infinitum ad nauseam.

I had hopes that the lull would mean that there would be some consolidation prior to the May elections. The foreign policy spectrum of the Philippines will face some realignment following the Democrats' victory in the US this November. Oppositionists in the Philippines are taking their cue that May would be the next best opportunity to run the table and thus gain the initiative over the administration. There is little doubt that this electoral exercise would properly gauge the hold of the administration over public opinion and thus the country.

Let's just say I'd rather not be smug about how the administration has bungled the job, etc. etc. at running the country. There are far too many crows waiting at this feast, eager for the morsels of a post-mortem, and perhaps, even hastening the "inevitable" downfall. While I deplore that the mass of Filipinos is less sanguine about the essence of democracy and the deeper implications of such a system, I have greater faith in their impatience and their cynicism in our leaders.

Any self-serving politician without a reform agenda is just as marooned as any of the congressmen who have little else to show to their constituencies than toeing the administration line.

Still, I am troubled that strong-arm rule remains the special du jour for many of the disenchanted. I admire that they have read up on the progress of our neighbors Singapore and Malaysia, and perhaps Vietnam, and then concluding that no dissent is the best way to run a country. I have news for them - there is no guarantee that strong-arm rule will make your country rich. Take Argentina, Chile, Myanmar, or your selection of African countries.

Or take the Philippines under Marcos.

These same people are "appalled" that "contentiousness" is ruining the progress of any administration. They posit that good ideas are downgraded because of opposition - but I find that funny. To draw a point, something of ethereal beauty is not made any less because some person has a different conception of it. What appals me is that they would willingly cede many of their freedoms for a semblance of order and direction.

A word to the wise: the road to perdition feels just as safe and secure as the road to paradise, probably even more comfortable. Never forget that the right path does not a wide one make. The means is the way. For true democracy to function, we must allow the democratic design to unfold in due course. Otherwise, we become victims of contingency, swimming in an ad hoc sea.

The current hubbub emerging from the House effort to constitute itself as the lone agency to amend the Constitution is simply this: we cannot abandon the means of our democratic structure in order to rush "changes" as we perceive them. Now, I'm not going to plant myself in any of the camps as to my preferences over the form of government.That in itself is another issue for another day. We cannot condone bulldozing of our processes for the sake of the vague "reform." And, to use the hackneyed phrase, "at the end of the day," whatever form of government we have, it will be the same people littering the halls of the new legislature.

To date, we have not resolved our electoral processes to ensure that votes are counted correctly and quickly so that the true voice of the people is expressed. Let's have a clean, honest, open, and peaceful elections before we start speaking of unicameral or bicameral legislatures. If the form of selecting people is attainted, no means of sophistry would justify the form of government.

To date, we have not resolved the perks that Congressmen and Senators have arrogated upon themselves. The pork barrel will also be the means to control legislators regardless of whatever form of government we have. Let's abolish pork barrel forever because it is the primary temptation for any legislator to graft. Legislators are not implementors, and if they can't go through red tape of their local governments as they aver in order to push their pet projects, then tough. Welcome to the real world, ladies and gentlemen.

To date, we have not settled the moral authority of this administration to govern. That is to say, too, that not being in the government gives any presidential wannabes a "get out of jail free" card. The election in May 2007 should help resolve the stalemate. If the administration is as great as it puffs itself to be, then it should have no problem securing the mandate. If, as the pro-administration people correctly fear, that the opposition will win and then impeachment will secure enough votes, then the rule of law should prevail in the same way the pro-GMAers justified the quashing of the impeachment complaint.

It's not that impeachment is the best thing for us, but it does put the issue into perspective - why vote people in the first place when we want to impeach them? We might as well not have elections. Let the mob rule. Rather, the impeachment process is merely the form by which our catharsis from the time we kicked out Erap takes shape. GMA in or out, we will have the opportunity for closure. Then the clock will be reset and a new political landscape, I hope, will be easier to chart.

The answer to gridlock from above is decentralization. The Local Government Code has provided for that, but old habits die hard.

We have all the laws we need to make our government work. The software and the hardware are all plugged in, so to speak. It's the people-ware that now has to factor in --- I just hope all Filipinos would make it count.

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