Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Of Leadership, Of Moral Ascendancy, Of People Power, and Of Truth

(edited) We digress a bit from our Understanding Nation Building series (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and talk about the events of the past day as Congress votes on whether or not President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should be impeached.

The highest mountain that the Political Opposition must surpass is the question of tomorrow. In the past twenty years, the Philippines has gone to through two coup d'etat--- and more than many failed rebellions. In the past twenty years, the spawn of those coup d'etat, those EDSAs have failed to change that landscape of the country.

The Filipino has always asked for change, to lift this country from poverty and transform this feudal society. Yet there is no vision, no leadership, but much idealism and many more broken dreams.

The Political Opposition is asking for a great change. Yet where is the plan for tomorrow? We kick out President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today, the man walking in the street begging, will still be begging tomorrow. Traffic will still be outrageous. The prices of oil will still be determined by economics and like many across the globe, we will still need to pay bills and mortgages. The only change that will happen will be, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will no longer be President of the Philippines.

Where is the plan that will allow the Filipinos of tomorrow, equal opportunity to better himself? Where is the plan that will give our Filipinos jobs that they may fish for themselves? Where is the plan that will ensure our electoral processes are held scared? Where is the plan that will ensure every child will have the opportunity to play, to study to learn, to eat properly? Where is that Administration, where is that Political Opposition?

Idealism without vision, without leadership, without action is worthless and after twenty years, should we not try much better?

Rightly, the Opponents of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) are correct in that the moral degeneration of our society is such a contemptible thing and we have the right to demand the highest post in the land be placed in a higher standard and lapses of judgment, of ethics is a serious crime. Yet, PGMA is but a tiny manifestation of a cancer prevailing in our society. This cancer fills every fabric of our culture, of our nation, of our people. Where are the cases against those who cheated in the elections, irregardless of post, of position, because every elected position is a sacred public trust? Why just PGMA? Why not also those who made cheating possible?

This contemptible cancer manifests itself during our elections, when no candidate loses, only cheated. It manifests itself, when many of our people grow hungry and without hope. It manifests itself when those in power seek only to amass power for themselves and never put the interests of the people first. It manifests itself when we cheat on our taxes and circumvent laws, contracts and obligations for our own benefit. Where is the demand for that change?

When will we change many young people ask. Change, it may hurt to say, starts with the transformation of ourselves. We begin by refusing to pay traffic enforces bribe money. We begin by following a line paying bills or applying for a license. We begin by paying taxes even when we grumble about it. We begin by working in our jobs and professions to the very best of our ability. We begin by being better persons and better neighbors, by not cheating on our fellow, by being a morally correct ourselves. As Milton once said, “they also serve those who stand and wait”.

As for our nation, if PGMA will go--- the cycle of cancer continues with different faces but the same issues. We have tried coup d'etat several times and many of those who have voted “no” in Congress today and the past night have rightly said, we have squandered those opportunities.

Both sides agree--- there is a systematic problem in our nation today. As we look towards the future, every nation decides for itself how to shape it. It has always been in our hands to chart this destiny. We do this every election or every People Power. The very idea that the former is rigged and the latter had and has offered no better option is disheartening.

Righteous disgust does not make a nation.

To the credit of all sides, people are looking at how to exit from our current madness; how to right wrong in spite of personal interests still governing their choice. How to mend fences and yet guarantee government continues on with business.

How indeed?

The Political Opposition has lost their bid for Impeachment. Impeachment as political science tells us is a political action and an instrument to remove an elected leader from power. It is a numbers game and never one of “morals” or “truth”. Its all politics.

What is there much to do about anything? All parties claim they love their country, and it drives them to do what they do. The heart of the Political Opposition's thrust is the lack of “moral ascendancy” of the President, because of her admitted lapse of judgment. The heart of President's Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Allies' thrust, granting the lapse of judgment is true, there is no credible government to replace her and if the Vice President is allowed, waiting in the wings is an attack on him as well.

Defeated, the Political Opposition will take to the streets as they have already claimed and have readied for over the weekend. Their success will depend again, on a numbers game. The Political Opposition has taken the recourse of going to the streets. If they can sway support of the church, the military, the business sector and the middle class in a plurality, PGMA will fall.

The battle lines will have to be redrawn, as the ever shifting loyalties of the military, the civil service, the non-government organizations, the business sector, the middle class and labor, left and right leaning and lastly the ever powerful Catholic Church with its own factions and we shall see if President Macapagal-Arroyo will survive the next few days.

Highly credible information combined with the political realities points to the fact, PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) will survive the next few days. Why? 1) the flow of resources is in PGMA's favour; 2) the Lakas Party and its many layers of influence will hold ground as long as the flow of resources of course will hold true. 3) The Opposition's case has not been presented.

We talk about morality, of ethics. Yes, there are many questions and casts doubt on the legitimacy of PGMA. But we are threading on gray ground. Absolute black and absolute white is great but when one is putting the nation's interests, absolutes have not gotten us anywhere. It has not fed the poor and neither has it raised the standard of living and has only gotten us to make the rich richer, we have created a nation of influence peddlers and a feudal society looking up to the powers that be in our country's capital. We have a nation of people without hope. That, poignant and hard to admit is the Truth.

Our ruling class should be leaders. We need good leaders. We need leaders with Vision on how to shape the society of tomorrow. We need plans and we need to execute those plans. We don't need people following polls--- this is where our people want to go. We need rulers who can persuade our people, this is the right path to go, thats a leader. That has been missing in our people for many many years. That is True Leadership.

We need radical reform, and it must begin within each and every Filipino. We can not entirely blame the elite for our problems, though they have much to answer for. We can not entirely blame ourselves, awaiting for hand me downs. No one will care with the plight of the Filipino, but the Filipino. We must work. Nation building takes years. There are no over night solutions. When will we begin to tackling those solutions that has been staring at us in the face for twenty years? We can not move forward until the divisiveness are mended and we agree on status quo and determine how best to begin anew, even if we shatter our existing system through proper Constitutional Change. That is True People Power.

We can not blame anyone for the State of the Philippines until we can accept each other, until we each admit our faults, forgive one another and decide as a People, move forward. That is Moral Ascendancy.