Long shot
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2014 - 12:00am

For the past four years of this administration, a great majority of Filipinos expected some honest to goodness improvements in public service especially in reducing, if not totally eliminating graft and corruption and solving our problem of poverty. Their hopes were rekindled during the 2010 elections when P-Noy, the candidate who ran and supposedly won the presidency, was reputed to be a sincere and honest man.

But, as it is now turning out quite clearly, the president who supposedly won last 2010 is exactly the opposite of what he was reputed to be. In many areas of his governance, his sincerity and truthfulness have been irreparably eroded.

He is not really against corruption in government as he even increased the biggest sources of corruption which is the pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of members of Congress. In fact he even surreptitiously created his own pork barrel in the form of a Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). And when the Supreme Court abolished those “porks” for being unconstitutional, he even attacked and undermined the SC’s independence, in derogation of the constitutional principles of checks and balances. 

Indeed, this is the only administration that looks down on our fundamental law as if it can be changed like an ordinary legislation. This is evident in a recently scripted plot to stay longer in power where P-Noy’s “double talk” and insincerity once more appeared. At first he told the people that he is against Charter change (Cha-cha) and that he will step down at the end of his term in 2016. Eventually, he changed his mind and openly announced that he is open to Cha-cha to lift his term limit and to clip the powers of the SC allegedly because this is the clamor of his “bosses.” And he plans to Cha-cha through Congress which he controls.

To be sure, we have been experiencing bad governance even in past administrations following the 1986 people power revolution. Apparently, this is due to the officials we elected and continue to elect. All of these officials who held office in our country, past and present, mainly promote their own selfish interest rather than public interest and welfare. But it seems that in the present P-Noy administration, the situation has worsened.

Our economy may be growing as repeatedly claimed by his propagandists, but our country’s wealth mostly belongs only to the business oligarchs comprising a mere .001% of our entire population. In fact only 10% of the population can be considered as rich and about only 30% are living above poverty level while the 70% remains poor and gets poorer. Indeed this kind of oligarchy is the very reason why the rich are getting richer and the poor becoming poorer in this country.

Politically, we are now bankrupt as the officials who usually “win” our elections are the big spenders supported by the business oligarchs and political warlords, or those who steal public funds while already in office in order to retain power through patronage politics and non-stop campaigning while already in office. Then we also have political dynasties. These are the officials dominating our local and national government especially after the 1986 revolution.

To improve our future for the sake of the coming generation, we should shake off any feeling of hopelessness and indifference. We have to start moving now especially in preparation for the coming 2016 elections. Our overall aim is to ensure that none of the present crop of politicians, particularly the above-described officials presently occupying the elective positions in the executive and legislative branches of government, both local and national, will continue in office.

Of course, our aim cannot be achieved at once and in one election. It really looks insurmountable, but we should not be daunted. Otherwise we will have more of the same kind of government, or even worse. Indeed our present situation prevails because most of us who can do something prefer to remain in the sidelines, to be mere fence-sitters.

And I am referring here to all of us laymen and women in the private sector belonging to all sects or religions, most especially the Catholic laity since this is a predominantly Catholic country. Because of our present situation where there is already “a widespread and prolonged perception by our citizens that the State no longer represents their interest, their dreams and their values.”

The laity should take the initiative. It is timelier now because this year is supposed to be the “year of the laity.” This is the laity’s role because “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible…a just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church” (Deus Caritas Est No.28).

Engaging in a political battle does not only mean organizing a political party although it is one way of approaching the problem like what the Ang Kapatiran party of Nandy Pacheco did. In fact in the talk of the late Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi on January 25, 2007, on the “Role of Bishops as Leaders in Addressing Crisis in Governance” he already recognized this party as a “group of lay people who can enter the world of politics, reform it from within, and work for the establishment of the kingdom of God.”

Reforming politics can also be done from the outside. But it also requires a well organized group with enough logistics. I think the group recently formed by Bobit Avila and other laymen in Cebu is the best example here. But it must be national and not merely local. Maybe the laymen and women all over the Philippines who participated in the PCP II could form the core group for this purpose.

Their approach here will be two-pronged. First is the voter’s education. They should start by studying the qualifications of the candidates and determining who are most qualified. Then they should inform and instruct the electorate to vote for them. This is the simplest way of educating the voters especially those without sufficient knowledge and information. This can be done through the Basic Ecclesial Communities of the Parishes all over the country.

The second approach is to work for the reform of the Automated Election System now being used. We should revert back to the secret manual voting and maintain only the automated counting and canvassing of votes open to the public. For this purpose the help of the various election watchdogs particularly the AES Watch and the CenPEG can be enlisted.

It is long way to go but we have to take the first step. The long shot will not sink in if we will not attempt.

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com







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