Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reforming the Philippines

The Philippines is in a moment of its history when it must chose a path. It must chose to either become mediocre and remain as such or it must take the path towards greater economic security and political stability. The current political turmoil--- the latest in a series of troubles the country has experienced in the past 50 years of its existence is a defining moment, a crucible if you will and as a people, Filipinos everywhere must make up its mind on how to go about it. This is an opportunity that the Filipino must seize!

The mere fact that President Macapagal-Arroyo has survived this long, is a good measure, not of Mrs. Arroyo's strength but the strengthening of the country's long failing institutions. It is an indication that the majority of the population would rather the multitude paths of the constitutional frame work must happen, survey be damned.

The trials that the country will face in the coming months will be difficult indeed. The nation must walk a fine line between the Impeachment process and an even greater need to rebuild all our institutions from within. Should a misstep occur with regard to the authenticity of an impeachment process, the closer will the country is to tragedy and more so, if Vice President de Castro will not be able to settle the storm former Senator Legarda is brewing in the distance.

On one hand, the Philippines must go about its business of reform. Its first act must, though it is painful, push for the implementation of the Extended Value Added Tax law, if only to buy precious time and announce the country's seriousness to do business. It and future financial laws are but stop-gap measure at best.

This country's next task must be to recreate its institutions, we require a better republic not just a charter that describes it.

We must re-write our charter, we must slim its worded passages and make it easier to understand. We must give our government only basic rules and establish a solid foundation as much as flexibility in its operation to reflect the times and to best prepare ourselves for the future. We must as part of our charter change--- recreate our very culture and a new charter must reflect this. This charter must recognize our rights and even more so each citizen's duty to the country.

We must recognize the best in the Filipino and this new charter must reflect it, as much as our dreams and aspirations. This new charter must strengthen our provincial ties as much as it builds our national identity. It must encourage dynamic action across the archipelago, build this country's industries from our individual provinces and the best example so far, if we must transform our land into a federal form of government. This will strengthen local government.

On a national scale, our nation must trim its already bloated bureaucracy! It must create a legislative that has the right balance of representation of the people as much as its need to properly consider new laws. For this, perhaps a parliament with a strong two-party system must be established.

The Filipino culture must be reinvented. It is not enough that the form of government be changed. The Filipino must himself transform! We must create a counter culture to the excesses of the padrino system. We must destroy the culture of having to rely on other people for sustenance. We must create a national work ethic.

We must chart a better future by creating a balance between our religious beliefs which is the strength of the Filipino and couple it with technological reform. We must translate technology that it be used from our farmlands to the big cities. We must strive to innovate through the aid of technology and invigorate our industries through it. We must move our people into the 21st Century.

The primary task of the government in the next half-decade must be to lower the cost of electricity and Internet access. This becomes paramount in a high technology world, in which our people must play catchup. This will be backbone of invigorating all our industries, be it agricultural, industrial and manufacturing.

We must meet our increasing population explosion with an even more vigorous capacity to provide education, health care, work and this can only be done by encouraging small business to grow even larger.

Over the course of years, the nation must get its handle on financial management. It is the key to ensure a viable, sustainable reform agenda.

Sadly it will take a least a generation or two to see the fruits of genuine reform but maybe finally the Filipino can see the blood, toil and sweat it has given the past half-millennium of searching for prosperity, a reality.