A glorious intervention?

CHASING THE WIND - Felipe B. Miranda -
Another president is sworn into office. And one more speech is added to the vast archives of ceremonial rhetoric. This one, however, is mercifully short – just about 27 minutes – addressing all the customary subjects that longer, equally forgettable pieces ritualistically covered in the past.

In her speech, President Arroyo repeatedly remarked on how she would improve the economy, stabilize the polity, bring about peace, progress and social justice not only to those in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon but also to those in the Visayas and Mindanao. At least a million jobs — if possible, she adds, two million jobs — would be created every year to enable people to have gainful livelihood. All children of school age would find a place in spacious, comfortable and learning-friendly classrooms all over the republic. And, offering her personal mark as a guarantee to the public, those who have been accustomed across the years to having less and less in life will now witness a glorious reversal of fortunes. They will gain not only direly needed employment, education and security; theirs will be that dignity and respect that all human beings are supposed to have.

All of these awesome prospects are to be secured the currently debt-mired, fund-strapped, anarchy-driven nation in six years. By 2010, corruption in government would be exorcised, the national budget balanced, the public debt kept from hitting double-digit trillion peso figures and people’s real incomes stabilized, possibly even significantly enhanced.

No less than a glorious intervention is contemplated here. Publicly proclaimed, it appears to be a deliberately-crafted presidential initiative to thwart the popular sense that her administration had been exhausting and even painful for Filipinos in the last three years. With exhaustion and pain comes gain. And with even more gains — all those previewed goodies the promised land six years from now will sport – must come glory.

May gloria ang Pilipinas!
Discriminatingly-focused TV cameras made sure that the nation won’t miss the prominently displayed slogans providing appropriate context and subtext as the proclaimed president delivered her address at the Luneta. (Yes, the very same Luneta where a national hero must have cynically listened to a presidential promise that only the naïve or the desperate believed would be redeemed. Politicians respect no occasion, not even the anniversary of a national hero’s genuinely selfless sacrifice; on December 30 of any given year between 2001 and 2010, politicians will insist on politicking.)

Given the country’s enduring and worsening crises, further given the overall history of political administrations in this country and, finally, the unmistakeable track record of those who have had three and now stand to govern for another six years, it is doubtful that what needs to be done will indeed be done to effect the needed changes in Philippine society. National unification, willful austerity, lawful governance and overall political transparency – are these concerns easily associated by intelligent Filipinos with the immediately past and now continuing authorities? How about social justice orientations that truly serve the interest of those who are mostly poor? With elections over, the same authorities apparently have nothing better than rhetoric to confront the nation’s poverty with.

Glorious interventions are probably worth only the spit lavished on them by their self-serving designers and equally self-serving supporters.

Are there other interventions a nation might consider to change a historically bad condition?

Some look up to the heavens and pray for divine agencies to effect that change. Many Filipinos are actually confident that an Almighty God would be amenable to working miracles — outcomes that are so extraordinary that they violate or dispense with natural laws that the same Power presumably designed to govern the universe with. These miracles take place because, it is often seriously alleged, the Deity must have some special fondness or love for this nation, a Christian one, the only one in Asia.

Perhaps those who wait for divine intervention are right. Still, one can’t help being skeptical in the idea that a truly Omniscient and Omnipotent Presence would need to make exceptions to presumably well-designed universal laws.

Another tack might be taken. How about popular interventions — those that come because a nation has sufficiently outgrown its juvenile tendency to romanticize politicians, politics and governance? With sufficient historical familiarity, with enough intelligence to realize that organized, patriotically-led action is necessary to effect enduring changes in their society, many nations have indeed carved a new and better destiny for themselves. In most of these cases, the ability of the nation to be properly outraged has been the singularly reliable indicator of its successful transition from political innocence to political maturity.

Where people have gained political maturity, mostly everyone understands that political leaders and governments become good because no other alternative but to be good exists. Their truly sovereign people permit no other choice.

They refuse glorious interventions as a political choice. Most of the time, because they actually do what needs to be done, divine interventions are no longer invoked by these people.

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