Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Continuously Missed Opportunities and EDSA

By:  Gilbert M. Forbes

Yearly, we are remembering EDSA I, otherwise known as the People Power Revolution that toppled a dictator.  Only three years is left to mark 30 years of EDSA I, however, while the economy and living standards tremendously improved at least for the bourgeois and the regular working class in major industries, the poorest of the poor remained entangled in centuries old struggle.

Almost 30 years after that peaceful revolution which has
inspired the world, what now?  (photo from google search)
The poorest of the poor remained marginalized, ignorant, and exploited made worst by declining spirituality and morality intensified by the onslaught of materialism and commercialism as a result of globalization with free trade as its by-products.  Agri-businesses and all industries which could not adjust to strong competition brought by the influx of much cheaper products closed down and so the workers, the small time ones, also lost their jobs and livelihoods as well.

Free trade offered the consumers lots of products to choose from at a much cheaper price.  It also pave the way for the free influx of known brands which are within the buying capacity of the salaried workers and middle class which before are only accessible to the privileged few.  This however meant death of local industries which although offers the same quality and price but could barely stand out the level of acceptance among consumers considering their bias to whatever is imported.

The economy certainly grew and income increased as compared thirty years ago but living standards also increased tremendously.  The simple living ways of the past that many of the martial law babies could still recall have almost gone now except for some very few rural places in the country today.  This trend has overwhelmed many particularly the poorest of the poor and those who have just successfully got out from poverty to being a middle class or at least fixed income earners.

While democratic space returned, the expanded space seems to lead many astray, apathetic citizenry just went on even using the freedom recovered in violating basic laws, morals and spirituality is in decline, and veteran traditional politicians and opportunists took it as a leverage to expand their base of power while the masters of the martial law years just changed colors even affiliations and are now backed to reclaim their lost glory.  

To see brother and sisters, mother and son, father-son-brother in both the executive and legislative departments is now ordinary.  Out of almost a hundred million Filipinos, how lucky are these people to be elected to the highest sit of power to represent their family and of course their interest.  

In many provinces, we are witnessed to see a father as congressman, his son governor and the sibling mayors and municipal or city councilors.  Many times, it’s funny to hear of having a mother as the mayor, her husband as the municipal administrator, and the son a board member.  It too is a total disgrace for the voters.  Haven’t there are no other choices and options left?

Well, it came as to no surprise not only because partisan politics is out of the equation but because voters still lacks that ability to select the best and highly competent leaders who lead them.  The game is about who has the name recall, the personality, and the money.  In some instances, these voters are made to think this way.  Politicians in their respective dominions are successful in maintaining a certain level of mendicancy, dependence or political patronage as others may describe.

As a result, people looks at this type of politicians not as a leader but as their provider and shining armor that will protect them from harm, and will keep them of their perceive comfort zones.  In this sense, even both Hollywood and local superheroes like Spiderman would find a hard time in convincing these types of voters to switch their options or preference.   This is post martial law politics at its peak.    

For a righteous wealthy individual, to go to politics is an economic suicide for so many reasons that everybody knows. Another dilemma is the weakening volunteerisms and participation of many to even basic political exercise in their respective institutions i.e., schools, churches, villages.  EDSA I brought a political vacuum for the marginalized and poor to fill in but they constantly fail to utilize it in their favor.

EDSA is successful in returning democracy but only the oligarchs are able to fully maximize its use in their favor.  The poor because of lack of education and martial law’s side effects are left behind.  This is largely evident in the level of participation the common people devote in governance giving corrupt politicians leeway in using it to their advantage.

Among other things, democratic system is failing because of poor quality of leadership at the grassroots level as manifested by the existence of incompetent and inefficient leaderships of most at the barangay level, the Sangguniang Kabataan which is seen as the training ground of corruption and the party list system being now described as a mockery of democracy.  One popular TV documentary has noted that corruption is far greater than that of the barangay than any other level of governance combined.

With this in mind, our barangays or communities need more honest, competent and highly qualified leaders than a town would because it lacks professional staff as compared to towns.  Having this type of leaders will help it benefit from the service of volunteers whose very heart is at serving the people as what most NGO’s do.  

If the quality of leadership at the barangay would match or even surpass the quality of leadership at towns, provinces, and national offices let say, the schools, rural health units or even NGO’s including the church, we could imagine how good and better the government will be.  

To achieve this, we need to embrace a total change on the way we put and choose people who will lead us.  Yes, we could not discount the fact that barangay leadership positions, SK, and most importantly the party list system as a source of livelihood and a good start in the realization of ones political ambition but this ambition should be guided by genuine concern for the people and social progress.

If EDSA I would have been a bloody one, will our political attitude be the same as it is now?  What about the economy?

What EDSA has given us is a great opportunity we continuously fail to use for the common good due to lack of vision, faith, hope, discipline, narrow mindedness, apathy, selfishness and greed.

Unless, we realized and learn from our own misfortunes and unrighteousness, what we are heeding to is destruction.

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