2016

PASAY CITY – Jojo Binay. Mar Roxas. Grace Poe. One declared, one anointed and one undeclared presidential candidate. In 20 months and 29 days, we will all go to the polls and elect a new president.

As the years pass by, you begin to feel the optimistic future begin to slip away. You begin to feel a sense of despair at the growing feeling of helplessness at the thought that our country will never be what you want it to be. Given the significant problems that the country faces, the selection of what you hope would be a transformational president becomes even more important. Is it too late to hope that such will happen in your lifetime?

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illustration credit: newsflash.org

We need radical solutions to our problems. Baby steps will not do. To do that, we need a leader with the moral courage and the intestinal fortitude to battle the powerful and deeply-rooted institutions (formal and informal) which will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo.

The prospective candidates for the 2016 polls are of the establishment. It is difficult to divine whether they have a true grasp of the problems that we face much less the solution to these problems. Our problems as a nation are not just those that are tangible (poverty, corruption, crime), so much more is intangible or things we do not accept and recognize as problems.

There is no sense of Filipino nationhood. We profess to be one nation but what is that rooted on? We are one nation by a geography drawn by and cemented by foreigners. Like the former Yugoslavia which eventually broke up to become Serbia (Serbs), Montenegro (Montenegrins), Croatia (Croats) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnians), we identify more with being Batangueno, Ilocano, Cebuano, Waray, Ilonggo, etc.

Our current crop of leaders are too inward-looking and narrow-minded. The majority of them have no sense as to the radical changes that need to be undertaken to make the country, a nation that is for all. Most have no discernment of where or what our country should be – a lack of vision. Those with vision have very limited or narrow ones with little understanding or specificity as to how to achieve such a vision. Many shy away from radical measures because for them “para que pa?”.

The writer, F. Sionil Jose, propounds that a president strongly backed by the military would be the solution. A Marcosian solution one thinks. Behind his thinking, however, is the allusion to the fact that we are such a poor excuse as a nation that we need a dictator or at least a strong president to get us all in line. The lack of discipline, the abject disregard of the rule of law, the lack of purpose, the being mayabang na wala namang ipagyayabang, the pretentiousness, the every person for himself mentality (just look at the traffic), the national inferiority complex – all these need to be eradicated for us to really change and fulfill our potential as a nation. F. Sionil Jose believes a Lee Kuan Yew-type leader is required (my interpretation).

To lift all of our people from poverty does not go far enough although it is a good start. Really, we need to free Filipinos from that mental state that makes them set imaginary glass ceilings and does not allow them to throw off the chains of mental bondage. We need to empower ourselves to think that we can go far beyond our current circumstances.

For this to happen, the way our current institutions are set up and function will have to radically change. Many laws that we currently have will have to be amended or thrown out all together. As the Peruvian economist, Hernando Soto, said, institutions are important and their ability to reform their legal systems contributed to successful examples of now-developed countries. The problem we have are that our institutions are corrupted and do not have the ability nor the willingness to think beyond themselves. This consigns us to the status quo which benefits the few at the expense of the many.

It is hard to accept that only a military-backed dictator will be able to launch a revolution to “re-form” our institutions.

The Philippines and the Filipino people is/are an impressionable lot. Rather than a military-backed dictatorship, we need a visionary leader who will also have the “sticktoitiveness” to push through with the necessary steps to build on a broad-minded vision. Someone who will have the balls to say what needs to be done and actually get it done. Someone who will argue by force of reason and logic rather than someone who will do so with the barrel of a gun pointed at your head.

Our Constitution, with its imperfections, is a relatively good one. We argue on the constitutionality of things based on technicalities. This misses the point. Our Constitution is a set of aspirations and promises. Sadly and very frustratingly, our institutions which are tasked with fulfilling these promises and thus getting us closer to these enunciated aspirations have failed us. The presidential oath of office binds our President to protect and defend its Constitution. It would have been better had the phrase “and fulfill its promises” been added. Regardless, we need someone who will understand this and do so.

Sadly, there is no one in the horizon for 2016 who seems capable of doing so.

 

 

 

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