Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Legitimacy and Reckoning Force

In the past forty years, who amongst our elected Presidents have not faced the question of legitimacy? Marcos did. Cory (so many coup attempts) did. Ramos had Miriam Santiago. Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo is currently weathering her storm. Only Erap Estrada hasn't. His is clearly a mandate won, hands-down. And what did we do to that mandate? EDSA 2 happened and we swept Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to power.

cvj had this to say (as comment in mlq3's blog) as a reaction to past posts: ‘big mango’ exhibits a failure of imagination in the range of historical possibilities, and therefore misses out on what is being lost and what can be gained by resolving the legitimacy issue.

first we must ask: how exactly are we to address the question of legitimacy? i point to a previous post in this blog that discusses "hello, garci". To add to that, in the past months, we went through an impeachment process. sadly the Anti-Arroyo factions lost by sheer number, by being outmanuvered by the more politically astute operator and because the Palace has commanded and continue to command more resources than they do.

As I've said in a previous post, "Truth and Justice", Anti-Arroyo factions want Righteous Truth but no Justice. On the side of Truth, we never discovered it. did she or didn't she? isn't that the question? all the avenues by which this Truth could be discovered has been blocked or closed off or never open in the first place. Would it been better to discover the truth? Absolutely! then the question after that, what sort of sanction would satisfy the crime and how far would that sanction go? And who would do the sanctioning?

This is something that Anti-Arroyo factions can't seem to get over with. We lost the battle. It is time to move the battle to a different arena because the War has not been lost!

And another thing, we want to hang Arroyo--- yet what about the others involved? Shouldn't, if proven in the proper context, in the proper forum, they all be sent to jail? Why are the Anti-Arroyo factions just asking for Arroyo's head? What about the local officals involved and who benefited? How about the henchmen tasked to do the dirty deed, shouldn't they to some degree be held accountable? that is a very long list. again, if proven true. That is truth and justice.

Righteous Truth only extends to hanging Arroyo, Real Truth and Justice is when everyone involved is held accountable. likewsie, Truth and Justice is when we right our flawed system, pick ourselves up and innovate.

On one hand (a side note), Arroyo wants Righteous Justice, and no Truth. Why else can we explain the rapid crackdown on enemies of her administration? Where is the proof that these people have violated the law? and of course Arroyo already has this power even before 1017.

Righteous Justice is only a spiteful, vengeful attack on one's enemies. Real Truth and Justice send criminals to jail in accordance with Law. And in the absence of such evidence, may be we can find other ways to bring them to jail. The story of Al Capone comes to mind, a gangster who was imprisoned not because he was a gangster but because he failed to pay his taxes properly. All government has to do is their job. 1017 wasn't the answer and has only caused us to be a laughing stock abroad.

Do you get it now?

The price of EDSA 1, returned our bill of rights. The price of EDSA 2 is a reckless abandon of our institutions. Like a lot of people, I cheered when EDSA 2 toppled Estrada. I do not regret doing so. Who would have thought it would come down to this? But you know, we can not change the past. We can only learn from it, accept our mistakes and move forward.

second, we must ask, what can we do to change this cycle our country has fallen unto? And the answer is no longer People Power in the streets--- it is People Power in elections, in institutions, in democracy, in our daily lives! Many instances this blog has touched upon Understanding Nation Building (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16). That is how I see this country. May be a lot of people agree or disagree with that point of view. the goal has always been to enlighten minds. Yet at the same time, such posts are merely touching the tip of the iceberg as to the extent of our imperfect society. And note it is different from calling it a problem. it is an imperfect society that we can change, by words, by deeds. we have our work cut out for us.

We have people hungry in the streets. We have people up in the mountains demanding a Communist regime. We have a Muslim Terrorist Movement in the south. We have people hungry, tired, illiterate. No EDSA can magically transform our society into a more perfect republic. Who would turn down a country where no child grow hungry and cheer in 100% literacy and job acceptance. There are no magic spells for that to happen. We do it everyday--- by what Anti-Arroyo factions are doing, challenging the status quo, by what people in the streets are doing now--- working, by what Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ought to be doing everyday--- work for us.

Milton said, "they also serve those who stand and wait". meaning, we all have our roles to play. People agree on one thing: we want the best future possible. Democracy is about disagreeing how to get there. Isn't it great?

A lot of people do not like how Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo runs this country. I am one of them. I do not need to imagine the range of historical possibilities, the past is something we can learn from but we shouldn't live there. I can prefer to aspire, to innovate, to transform, to empower that our people get what they want--- propsperity.

Above, we wrote that the Anti-Arroyo factions has lost a battle--- well several at that. but it doesn't mean the war. Anti-Arroyo factions can not live in the past. Estrada's term of office is over. Arroyo's cheating or not is over and done with. Anti-Arroyo factions' move to oust Arroyo hasn't been supported by people. The only thing to do from here on end is to continue protesting yet more importantly, shout at the top of our lungs, what to do the day after Arroyo steps down, what are the anti-arroyo factions want to do for our country? what economic measures to accomplish? What steps are we to take to that goal? What sets Anti-Arroyo apart from the Pro-Arroyo?

Maybe then Anti-Arroyo will have changed their name to something else, and transform themselves into a political party with a proper vision and not merely a vessel for their standard bearer and with responsible leaders who Capture the Imagination of our people. Now, that will be a force to reckon with!


cvj said...

Big Mango, the fact that almost every President since Marcos has had legitimacy problems is no longer relevant. As Randy David pointed out, the values of [some] Filipinos are changing. What may have been acceptable then is not acceptable now. What matters is that GMA has a legitimacy problem *today*. Even if, for the sake of argument, we grant that GMA is a competent President, it still does not matter because a democratic government is not like a corporation where effectiveness automatically confers legitimacy. It is an issue that needs to be addressed head on, especially since GMA has been using the institutions of democracy to subvert its ideals.

Why does it matter? Unlike you, i don't consider 'Hello Garci' to be just another 'battle'. It is a defining moment - for the President and for the people who supported her. (I voted for GMA in 1992, 1998 and 2004.) In one of your earlier posts, you stated "The Middle-Class we speak of are generally idealists--- they believe in the rule of law, they believe in common decency". How does that square with the actions of the President and those who support her? Is this what you mean by 'rule of law' and 'common decency'?

We, in the 'middle' must never forget that for the foreseeable future, we will be in the minority. Unlike the upper class, we do not have the resources. Unlike the poor, we do not have the numbers. The only thing we can offer are our values. According to conventional wisdom, it is the middle class that defines the nation. Where our values go, our country goes. Let's not throw these away in the name of expediency.

cocoy said...

i think it is very relevant that *every* president or politician in this country has a legitimacy problem. as the saying goes, in the philippines, "there are no losing politicians, just cheated ones". i think that is one of the many problems this country has to fix.

and yes, gma has a legitimacy problem. you know it. i know it. everybody else knows it. her competence or lack thereof is beside the point when it comes to that but that is her answer to her legitimacy question and it is a good answer and if people buy it, there must be a reason for it.

anyway, how do you solve this huge question mark in her? we'll get to an answer in a little while. let me explain something first.

i beg to differ that a corporation is any different from democracy. in corporation as stockholders, we hold elections on who to run the corporation. its an annual meeting when they--- the officers report on the progress of the corporation and we elect officers or members of the board. as stockholders, we hold accountable the officers of the corporation. it is a sacred trust that executive officers bring shareholders a return on their investment. a good corporate executive holds in high regard the money of the shareholder as if it is his money.

what makes that different from a country? it's the same. every election we hold people accountable. the sovereign people (that's the Filipino) elect a person to a position of public trust. we trust them to execute our will--- make this country a better place, bring us economic vitality, protect our interest, keep our children educated. we pay them to make the decisions for our collective good. we the people are shareholders in our country and we expect a return on investment.

if you read a business paper, you'd know that ever corporation has a problem. apple for instance exiled Steve Jobs (they guy who made the iPod) so many years ago. there are militant shareholders. shareholders who disagree with the actions of the board. but when it comes right down to a vote, they sometimes succeed, sometimes not but it doesn't end the woes of the board if it goes against them.

now the question of legitimacy. if it were you running the show, how would you decide?

we had an election. there are processes in place to ensure that cheating doesn't occur. granted, for the sake of argument there is a question. why was it not raised early on? days after or weeks after? or raised in the local level? does this mean that the people in those areas blindly disregarded what they think is right? if money worked then we have a moral problem, we let them buy our votes.

now granted, the facts came out only a year later. was it legally acquired meaning, will it stand under our laws? we can not just say, "get out gloria". we made that mistake with erap estrada. our price is gloria. this time, it must be our laws that should be obeyed. if sometimes those laws go don't favour what we know is truth, then there are processes to correct that as well but that is another matter entirely.

granted in our anger we brought this matter to congress. did all the things in our laws that should be done to kick a president out. and granted for the sake of argument, PGMA used the money, power and influence of her office to bribe or turn the tide to her favour. we lost that match. it's a numbers game, not a question of who is right or not, or truth. it's a numbers game and it sucks big time.

all those avenues of legality have been closed to us. we are angry at how stupidly gloria is running our freedom. we disgree with her assessment that this country is not improving fast enough. we can shout in the streets and we will all nod and say, yeah that's right. but what can we do?

gloria will not resign. that's the not president's way. neither will noli. in their shoes you probably wouldn't because if it were me, i wouldn't go down without a fight either and you won't as well. not if it means my survival after. she just needs to look at erap estrada and say, "thats not the future i want for me".

we have processess that must be obeyed. sometimes it sucks. big time. but that's how democracy works. it's why we have elections in place. in the next election, if we're all so pissed at why our congressmen voted for gloria in the impeachment process, if you think thats by God the deciding factor why you wont vote for him or her, be my guess! and we should continue street protests to show them our anger but at the same time answer what can we do to change it. answer the question of "how" to make this a better country and not just empty rhetoric.

you, me and a million Filipinos out there dislike Gloria for how she's running this country. by your admission, you voted for her several times. i did as well except when she ran for president. yet how can we predict what a person will do once we hire or elect them? we don't. we can't. it is why we call it "trust". we trust them to carry out what we pay them to do. when they do not. thats when we fire them-- but properly in the context of laws because laws protect us when it is we who are improperly challenged.

in this country you just can't kick out an employee even if by God he's just the worst person. Labor laws will hound you down even if you are right. its not about being right, its about being lawful and thats not a perfect system but its the system we get.

we make mistakes. we made mistakes in electing Gloria. i voted for her up to her vice presidency. I supported EDSA 2 just like many people. i didn't vote for her in the last election. but like you i too should be held accountable because of that vote. because of the choices we made. i'm not saying we were wrong. i'm not laying blame on the 10M people who voted for Gloria. that's who they voted for. that's who they chose to run this country because you guys believed her to be the right choice. that is who we believed to be the best person to run this country. that's all fine.

all i'm saying we accept our mistakes. and when we do, we pick ourselves up and try to do better next time. we can not right the wrong of gloria by usurping elections. it is what got us to this in the first place: EDSA2.

another edsa like edsa 2... thats a coup. we usurp our elections. we usurp democracy!

i described the middle-class as generally idealist because that's what we are. we believe in the rule of law, in righteousness and we believe in common decency. you mistake the positions of those who steadfast stand by the president as personal. that is righteous anger. rule of law is following the rules of the game. even when the other party isn't because when we don't, that's anarchy. common decency is respecting the rights of others even when they don't respect your rights--- its called rising above it all.

the elite--- the 5% or so of the country who can just packup and leave anytime play a different game. its the big boys' game. i've seen how its played from the inside. i've dabbled in it and i don't like it. it is too dirty for me. the manipulations--- it'll never go away. that's just how it is played at that level, behind the smokes and mirrors of our media.

this is an issue i take up with the middle class. why do we always divide this country between rich, middle and poor?

poor people think! they may not have graduated from a named school like you, me and a million other Filipino. They may not enjoy the benefit of internet all the time, but they vote who they think will deliver to them the best service. just like you and me and like millions of Filipinos who are a bit well off. and if they choose differently, if they choose someone we don't like--- is it their problem or the problem of our candidate who couldn't get his message across properly? is it the problem of the person who didn't buy the product our candidate is selling or the candidate who sells?

the middle-class and the not so poor, we're in the same boat you know? we have different values, maybe. we look at life differently. maybe. maybe not. some maybe conservative. some liberal. maybe. maybe not. its time we look beyond middle and poor and just say we're filipino. the elite--- there are good people there too and just like anywhere there are those who choose to use their influence and money to be greedy. just like in our ranks.

i defined middle class because it is the easiest thing to say. and describes the general nature of every middle-class, every working class. it was a mistake. i should have said, "common folk". but in the end--- we the common folk--- middle and the not so well of (we ought to just say common folk) do define this nation. it is our labor that brings the most revenue. it is our ofw families who bring in the dollars home. it is we who buy in the huge shopping malls. and we elect our leaders. by your words--- "we define where our values go, our country goes". but you know what? every Filipino does, rich or poor, its just that we the common folk have critical mass in a numbers game of elections.

when we usurp our elections by doing another EDSA 2, we throw our institutions and our democracy away to borrow your words, "in the name of expediency".

we all want a better country. how do we settle GMA's legitimacy? in the next election, if you find it in your heart, vote straight anti-arroyo. in the next election, encourage the leaders of the Anti-Arroyo camp to run for election--- not just in the highest post but in all levels of government. in the next election, encourage people who you know to run for public office, people who you trust won't screw us. in the next election, demand that our officials make better political parties, to sanction their own ranks. in the next election, encourage people to demand more than a simple favor from our elected officials. if your best friend is running for election and you think he's not the right guy, then don't vote for him. don't support him. don't vote for favours, vote for the person who will deliver results. in the next election, demand that every vote is guarded and counted, that there should not be another GARCI. in the next election, demand a higher quality of innovation in our elected officials. in the next election, demand our officials to modify our laws to suit what we think is the right one for us.

we do not right something wrong with another wrong.

we learn, we move on and accept the painful lessons of our past and demand in ourselves "never again".

we call ourselves to a higher accountability. that is how we build democracy. this is how we right our values. it is not a perfect solution. but in the long term-- it will be good. that is how we right the legitimacy of PGMA, we sanction her by sanctioning her allies--- a GMA and an EDSA2 should not happen again, ever. democracies and nation building doesn't happen over night. we build it brick by brick. in the same token, we protect civil liberties by going to court, by protesting in the streets, by demanding that our elected officials protect our civil liberties being challenged by Gloria and her ilk. and if we sometimes fall, if we sometimes choose the wrong leader, that is just an incentive to pick ourselves up and start again, in the next election, under the rule of law.

cvj said...

If i have a voted in a President whom i have good reason to believe "used the money, power and influence to bribe or turn the tide to her favor", i would not just leave the matter at that. This is something that we can't just write off as being part of the process "that must be obeyed" because that would defeat the purpose of why the process was set up in the first place.

I certainly would not characterize what happened with the phrase "that's how democracy works" because, in this case, democracy did *not* work. Normally, i would agree with the principle that the "rule of law is following the rules of the game...even when the other party isn't" - but not when the "other party" happens to be the State, which is supposed to guarantee the rule of law.

As for the next elections, if she did what she did i.e. "used the money, power and influence to bribe or turn the tide to her favor" before, what more now that the stakes are higher? I may have been fooled three times before, but i'd really be a fool if i'd allow myself to get fooled again.

The fact is our society is divided into rich, middle and poor. Gloria Arroyo who rose to power via EDSA2 is perceived to be the choice of the 'middle'. If we, as members of the middle, don't do our part to right the situation, one of these days, there really will be a reckoning.

cocoy said...

we're on the same side but we shouldn't let our anger at gloria separate us from the facts, from what this country needs to do. we agree on the facts but our interpretations are different. how do they say it? preaching to the converted. anyway:

1.) we can never trully fully say a person we voted into power came to that position by being goody-goody. there is no guarantee in that. in the same manner, neither can we have guarantees that person to whom we gave power to will use it properly. who was to say that in EDSA2 or after the elections Gloria would be doing what she is doing now? we accept the responsibility that this is our president. she got there because we supported her not just this time around but through the years. so we were hoodwinked. lets accept that we were.

2) when we do accept we were hoodwinked, i ask you this, how do you right that wrong? cry out in the streets and beg she step down? throw fireballs? wave banners and disrupt traffic and all that? sure we can do that. we should protest in the street--- peacefully. that is the right way to express our anger. but how do we right a wrong? we fight it through laws within the system we all agree to follow which is the Constitution--- through the courts. through discussions like this blog and so many others on the net as our rights guarantee. more importantly, we give people information, we tell them our side of the story.

we accept our responsibility.

3) i'm not saying that we lie down and let the state roll over our rights or in this case, its not even the state, just gloria. gloria does not equal the state. ever. she works for us. i'm saying exactly the opposite: fight it.

4) how do you fight it? this is how to set it right: you shore up sympathy from the apathetic. those who are on the sidelines. get them to join us by offering a reasonable answer, by enticing them that ours is the better way. you get people to join our cause not by antagonizing them. we sell the idea that ours is a better way.

do you understand where i'm driving at? its a question of marketing. of packaging our ideas. then we make the sale.

its just like watching a kris aquino commercial or any other commercial or advertising for that matter. it entices us to support that product. maybe because it will make us feel good, or maybe because our favorite idol is using it, or maybe it entices us because of some scientific fact or word of mouth. in the end, advertising entices us--- information shapes the way we live lives. its no different from the people standing in the sidelines. they need us to convince them to join us.

how do you court a girl you like? you convince her you're the right guy-- however way we can right? but never forcing her. she has to agree correct? its the same for the people who are apathetic for the people who are on the sidelines waiting to choose sides. that's what we forget.

another analogy, starwars. the darkside doesn't force you down a path. it tempts you, seduces you. thats exactly how to get people to side with us. offer them a deal they can't refuse because it benefits them.

thats how we fight gloria and her ilk. we counter them by being free, by being innovative, by offering answers to people's problems and by demonstrating it by fact, the actual execution.

5) yes ours is a divided society. we know that. exactly divided into the rich, the middle and the poor. what i'm trying to say is to un-divide it. (thats not even a word) but i hope you get my meaning. we need no further divisions, what we need is to get people to work together--- towards a goal, a better future. the poor, the middle, we're the same. and if we can get the elite to join us, what makes you think we shouldn't get them? we need to unmake our mistakes by building a better country, a better democracy by fighting for it hard. i'm not saying it will be easy-- exactly the opposite. but we need to work for it. together. and how? see answer 4.

6) i'm not saying Gloria will not use money power influence. she'll use every weapon available to her. and we should as well. and like the answers above: i'm saying we fight that by truth, by information, by ideas, by results, by inspiring the uninspired, and more so by action, by deed and result, by giving it our very best, everything we got never surrending.

7) this is how we right our mistakes so there won't be a reckoning. the apathy of our people is already part of that reckoning. we need to right it, not by wrong but through internal change. we build. we improve. we grow up. that is people power.

cvj said...

i agree we're on the same side in terms of understanding the facts, and differ on our interpretations and approach. i also perceive that we differ on how this issue relates to the larger matter of governance.

what makes this difficult is the way in which this matter has caused disagreement among people who otherwise would have little to disagree about. for example, i find little to dispute in your points #1, #2, #3, #6 & #7 all reasonable positions. Your point #4 is a bit trickier, as it involves a trade-off between sending a message loud and clear to GMA versus its collateral effects on current non-participants. In this situation, i would tend to prioritize the former as it's beyond my control on how other people may react. i'm 100% with you on #5 in that the goal should be to undivide society and which means in part those in the middle class should stop thinking that they belong to some sort of exclusive club. That's why i find those open letters along the lines of 'Paano Naman Kaming Mga Middleclass na Pinoy' extremely short-sighted.

i'm thankful to mlq3 for linking to sites like yours as it appears to have a lot of thoughtful materials which i hope to be able to read. I'm looking forward to the day when the middle will become the majority in our country and looks like you are one of those who are actively trying to help us get there.

cocoy said...

yep. indeed. as for number 4... doesn't easily set well with a lot of people. it happens naturally i suppose.

mlq3 is certainly a good guy and he has one of the best if not the best blog around. kinda like a Filipino portal.

this is what democracy is about my friend. to borrow from a television catch phrase: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. and i understand where you're coming from and highly respect your opinion and yours is a voice that is like so many people i've met here on the 'net and across the country. so please keep at it. we'll get there. :) isn't democracy great?

cvj said...

thanks for your hospitality.