Sunday, April 02, 2006

Building A Republic

The battle cry of Arroyo’s government has been to build a Strong Republic. In recent days, moves to amend the constitution have been placed in motion, but upon careful analysis, such initiative “for change” doesn’t seem to be proper nor as Randy David puts it “Doing it Right” because it just isn’t.

A Constitution is a living document of a people’s aspirations, dreams, hope, principles and will. It is our most basic principle and guiding light as a community. It tells to the whole world, who we are, and who we hope to become, to aspire to be. And everything else is just icing on a cake.

Without a doubt there must be change because our system of doing things just doesn’t work. We have a nation with several fundamental problems in its foundation. We have a nation that cultivates strong familiar ties, yet it has also fostered, patronage everything. No lucrative deal with the government goes forward without some perception--- real or imagined of it being dirty. Every move of the government is taken from the point of view of quite possibly some conspiracy, real or imagined under the table arrangement all for politicians’ personal gain. Walk the streets of our capital, and you will find, though not as bad as it used to be, private individuals buying their way or threatening their way out of a traffic violation, the latter real or imagined by the apprehending officer of the law.

There is also that fundamental problem--- real or imagined that elections in the Philippines are mere exercises for Politicians to spread a bit of their cash and We the People, in our blind pursuit of money accept a token of their kindness in kind or in cash. Our elections are not about ideas on how to move forward, it is not about issues that are relevant to us today or better yet tomorrow, it is about who will benefit us in the short term.

It is this cancer in us--- in every Filipino, which is at the heart of the matter and a Constitution such as drafted and proposed by Mrs. Arroyo, and her ilk will not change this but in fact, further entrench our feudalism to even deeper levels. We will be transforming a nation to be so dependent on the good will of those in power, those in places of power that it will be no different from being a monarchy except that the Empress only cares about protecting her interest, her fief and not of her subjects.

This is not a problem of Mrs. Arroyo. No it just isn’t. Because if she wasn’t in charge now, some one else would be facing the same convoluted problem, it is a problem that goes deep into our history, our national life.

We are faced on this crossroad for a number of choices we have made in the past, which we cannot change but only accept. We must accept 1986 happened. We must accept Erap and EDSA 2 happened and we must accept our culpability for the election debacle of 2004. Those things are done. We cannot erase them. Like an unwanted pregnancy, we can only take responsibility hereon end.

We the People are Sovereign of this Land. More than having Arroyo and all those politicians and all those responsible held accountable through trial for their actions, we must right our ship of state not just patching up the holes in our vessel but a complete refit.

We can only do that by taking in proper context, who we are as a people. If we must, it doesn’t matter whether or not a New Constitution would take years to build or as Randy David pointed out in his column, like the New Zealanders, take years to consider writing a new Constitution.

And yes, Randy David and so many other people are right and Mrs. Arroyo and her ilk are wrong, a New Constitution is not a cure all answer to the ills of our society. Nothing ever is. That’s one of the reasons why we’re here at this moment in our national life. Cory Aquino understands this. As a people, we’ve never understood that Democracy is something you build on, like life is continuously happening, changing, evolving as this picture (above) of a beach in Ilocos Sur… as is our National Life, as is our society, as is our culture ever changing by the hammering of the waves, by this ecosystem we embrace with our neighbors around the world and by the choices, we individually and as a nation each day make.

We build a strong republic, by strengthening its intuitions--- executive, legislative and judiciary, our family life and our personal lives as well. We do this not by corrupting the system, subverting it to the will of people who in the guise of building a strong republic, chooses only at best the stopgap answers to the questions plaguing our land. We build a strong republic by giving our people true emancipation! And what is this true emancipation? That they may begin the work of liberating themselves from poverty, one person, one generation at a time and we do this by laying down the foundation of opportunities they and their progeny will need--- education, jobs and the gift of being a better person each day. Isn’t that a Strong Republic?