Unfinished revolution

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2014 - 12:00am

What is happening in our country now really calls for some radical and drastic changes. Such changes can only be realized through a revolution. This is not a revolution that entails the toppling of this government by raising arms against it. This is a revolution staged at the polling precincts starting at the 2016 elections. To succeed, it must start now. In fact, time may already be short considering the enormous task ahead and the well entrenched rulers wielding power in our wretched country ever since we, as a people were given the right to vote for the officials who will run our government.

Actually we thought that last 2010 we already staged a successful revolution through the ballots when we elected Benigno S. Aquino III, the son of Cory Aquino, the touted icon of democracy and the heroine of the unfinished people power revolt in 1986. The Filipinos really thought that Aquino III, who considers the Filipino people as his “boss,” would be able to successfully carry out the needed changes in our government like what we expected his mother to have done but failed to do. We thought that he would be able to get rid of, or at least reduce the chronic and rampant graft and corruption plaguing every administration we had, because he is reputedly “honest” to the core.

Our mistake in 2010 was that we got carried away by our emotions and elected him out of sympathy for his mother’s death believing that he could finish his mother’s apparently unfinished revolution. We failed or even refused to closely and seriously consider some issues brought up against him which affected his capacity to be the President of this country. We readily welcomed his election and ignored some voices calling our attention to the possible manipulation of the PCOS machines used for the first time in said election to ensure his victory.

Indeed our unfortunate fate as a nation is largely due to the typical and widely accepted Filipino trait of being easily carried away by emotional gimmickry and theatrics. In fact right now the same tactic is being employed by one of the accused plunderer of the peoples’ money through the now infamous PDAF scam. This accused became a Senator capitalizing on his fame as a movie actor with box office appeal in several blockbuster movies. He is now exploiting this Filipino weakness by simply denying the charges against him and picturing himself as an innocent underdog being unjustly persecuted. He is obviously appealing to the peoples’ emotion to convince them that he is not guilty of the charges even without, and/or even before presenting any solid evidence to support his claim. More unfortunate still is that he also gratuitously presumes that he has chances of winning if he runs as president in the coming 2016 elections!

The sad state of our nation now is therefore actually due to the kind of leaders we have elected. All our present leaders both in the national and local levels, from the President down to the Barangay Captain, are more concerned in gaining and retaining power in order to promote their own interest and/or the interests of their family, friends and allies.

A more accurate and factual description of our country’s situation then and now comes from no less than the father of President Aquino, the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. himself who told the American people some 46 years ago that our country is a “land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor….a land consecrated to democracy but run by entrenched plutocracy…a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self perpetuating elite…a land of privilege and rank — a Republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste.”

And according to Rodel Rodis, a Filipino lawyer based in San Francisco California, these “self perpetuating elites” referred to by Ninoy Aquino, “can be traced to the decision of the Spanish colonizers in the third century of their rule to appoint the most prominent local illustrados in each town and province as gobernadorcillos to collect taxes from the people.” And “when the Americans colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they continued the Spanish colonial practice and appointed local illustrados to political positions as well.”

From this Filipino elite nurtured by both the Spanish and American colonizers sprang the political family dynasties which “bind politics in the Philippines” up to now because “even after the country gained independence in 1946, the largely feudal system persisted, as landed Filipino families sought to protect their interest by occupying public offices. As observed by Carlos Conde in his New York Times article of May 11, 2007, there are an estimated 250 political families nationwide, with at least one in every province occupying positions in all levels of the bureaucracy. Of the 265 members of Congress, 160 belong to this class.”

In a policy study conducted by Asian Institute of Management (AIM) sometime this year, it appears that around seventy five percent (75%) of the members of Congress and around eighty percent (80%) of the governors and mayors belong to political dynasties. And they are able to perpetuate themselves in power because of the huge outlays allocated to defray the expenses of the positions they hold. In fact, under the 2014 budget, 27 billion pesos are allocated to Congress while 342 billion pesos are allotted to all the provincial governments, municipalities and barangays. And almost eighty percent (80%) of these funds will go to political dynasties nationwide (Please see, “Our leaders, our problem” by Alex Lacson, author of the book, 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country).

The revolution called for now therefore requires us especially in the middle class sector of our society consisting of professionals, academicians, businessmen and other intelligent voters in our society to actively campaign against and not to vote for members of these political dynasties. We should also teach our voters not to vote for: candidates running for office out of sheer popularity and name recall; candidates campaigning all throughout their term by dispensing patronage with the use of taxpayers’ money like the PDAF, DAP and other forms of pork; candidates who collect on utang na loob they build while in office; candidates also known as “epals” who grab credit for public works accomplished with taxpayers’ money; and candidates who overspend in their campaign to win; and such other candidates using similar tactics.

The tasks seem overwhelming but we have to start sometime. And that time is right now.

E-mail: attyjosesison@gmail.com


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