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2014 SONA: GOVERNMENT OF DISUNITY? (First of Two Parts)


 

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“Good governance must be home-grown, developed and strengthened    in-country – and we Filipinos must require it as the unswerving duty of our elected officials in order that we can attain our better future….”    – FVR, “Duty, People, Country” (Vol. IX of “Empowering the Filipino People” Sunday Series)

At the Manila Hotel last 18 July (Friday), the Manila Bulletin and the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation launched FVR’s latest book – “Duty, People, Country.”  This is Volume IX of his series of columns that have regularly appeared in the Sunday issue of the Manila Bulletin – and collectively entitled “Empowering The Filipino People.”

What Are Citizens To Do???

FVR has unfailingly written about issues of short- or long-term impact on ordinary Filipino citizens for the last nine years.  As with earlier volumes in this series, Volume IX will be in circulation before the next State of the National Address (SONA) of President Aquino III scheduled on 28 July 2014 at a Joint Session of Congress.

Because FVR’s commentaries compiled therein on various contemporary events are of interest to the Filipino people in general – coming as they do from a concerned senior citizen “who had been there and done it” – the recipients of such Un-Solicited Advice (mainly the leaders in Malacañang, Congress, the Judiciary, academe, civil society and media) would get credible insights from an experienced, knowledgeable source. Any and all of such U-S-A is there on a “take it or leave it” basis, and imposes no obligation whatsoever on anyone.

The SONAs of P.NOY have variously been called “SHOWNA”(Entertainment), “SAUNA”(Water Torture), “SOLONA”(Monologue) “SHOOTNA”(Prosecution/Demolition), “SONATA”(Self-Praise), or “SANA”(People’s Aspirations).  We therefore hope that in President Aquino III’s SONA next week, he will get right down to brass tacks and lead our people to stronger Unity of Purpose, Solidarity in Values, and Teamwork in Nation-Building

Volume IX directly addresses the question that every Filipino should be asking, given the disunity in Government today – as manifested by endless investigations for plunder and corruption, the rising crime rate and costs of prime commodities, and open conflict among the Executive, Congress and the Judiciary:  “WHAT ARE CITIZENS TO DO?”. 

Of special importance at this juncture in Philippine history is the fight against mass poverty and its inevitable companion – corruption.  The Government and the private sector both have their own important roles to play in the attainment of enduring peace and the sustainable development of the nation, which must be the outcome of the unified and consistent efforts of the Filipino people and their elected leaders – bereft of scams, scandals and smokescreens.

As we face today’s challenges in the highly competitive globalized world of the 21st century, we must ensure that our efforts are undertaken through shared responsibilities, shared burdens, shared values and benefits that lead towards a higher quality of life for all. 

Good Government Cannot Be Imported Neither Outsourced

This 9th book of “Sermons” is part of RPDEV’s continuing information and education program in line with its four main advocacy areas namely:  enduring peace in the Asia-Pacific region, sustainable development, socio-economic diplomacy, and democratic governance. 

FVR has this bit of experience to share with today’s decision-makers: “If countries need iron ore, financial capital, scientists, or whatever, they can nowadays ‘outsource’ such essential requirements.  Capital, manpower, materials, and even intellectual resources, however, no longer hold the key to competitiveness – because countries which lack any of these assets can ‘import’ or ‘outsource’ them.

“THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTRIES CANNOT OUTSOURCE IS GOOD GOVERNMENT – WHICH MUST BE HOMEGROWN – ALONG WITH NATIONAL COHESION, LEADERSHIP, COMPETENCE, TEAMWORK, AND A CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE.”

In our interdependent world, good governance has become the crucial element in a country's competitiveness.  As citizens, we must insist that government – in its every branch, department, agency, and local government unit – should begin dealing seriously and consistently with the hindrances to our people's competitiveness in the world.  We, the sovereign and concerned citizenry, must make Philippine governance worthy of the Filipino.

Our people's strengths are our country's strengths – but government’s weaknesses have now become the nation’s weaknesses.  The alarming but logical conclusion is that the primary barriers to Philippine modernization are the government’s dysfunctions. 

World Bank President’s Rosy Prognostications

Five days ago (15 July) World Bank President (Dr.) Jim Yong Kim was the highlighted guest at Malacañang.  After the usual courtesy call on our President, Dr. Kim and P.Noy proceeded to co-lead the “Daylight Dialogue:  The Good Governance Challenge” – before an audience almost totally drawn from the business sector. 

Dr. Kim was quoted thus:  “Among the most important things is to tackle corruption and that’s one of the things that the government is doing, frankly, better than just about any other government in the world….  And so, if it continues down that path, if it continues making reforms it has already committed to do, if it continues to manage market policy and maintain the strong macro-economic fundamentals, I see very strong growth,”Dr. Kim prognosticated.

Some of us who happened to be listening to the broadcasts of two Malacañang programs – one after the other, the first being a replay of P.Noy’s defense of the “Development Acceleration Program” (after the Supreme Court’s unconstitutional ruling), and the other the live Malacañang forum on “Good Governance” with Dr. Kim and P.Noy as co-leaders – were taken aback by Dr. Kim’s rosy prognostications.  And, the obvious reason for our discomfort was the continuous decline of P.Noy’s trustworthiness and credibility due to the ongoing PDAF-DAP-Malampaya, etc. alleged plunder of public funds.

Unfortunately for Dr. Kim, it seemed that he had been unwittingly drawn into the year-long Malacañang-SC controversy which had stirred deep cleavages among key Philippine sectors because of P.Noy’s “divisive defense” of his Pork Barrel/Contingency Fund practices (see “A Bad Message” by Marichu Villanueva, Philippine Star, 16 July).

Interestingly, Dr. Kim failed to mention that South Korea had amazingly prospered from total war devastation in 1953 to OECD status by 2012 – not just because of the competitiveness of its “chaebols”BUT ESPECIALLY BECAUSE OF ITS PEOPLE’S SPIRIT OF DISCIPLINE, SELF-SACRIFICE, AND PATRIOTISM WHOSE CULTURE OF “SHAME AND GUILT” RESULTED IN THE IMPRISONMENT OF TWO ROK PRESIDENTS FOR CORRUPTION, AND THE SUICIDE OF A THIRD PRESIDENT, NOT TOO LONG AGO, WHEN HE JUMPED OFF A CLIFF.

We hope the World Bank’s Jim Yong Kim, as leader of South Korea’s younger generations, will remember to listen also to the voices of the commoners in the Philippines (and everywhere else), given the development mandate of the World Bank as an “international people’s support organization.”

In Germany:  A Grand Coalition And Government Of National Unity

With less than two years to go before our country again undergoes the wrenching trauma of the 2016 national and Presidential elections, in which political differences and rivalries tend to become exacerbated, it is timely to revisit our earlier column “Government of National Unity – In Germany” (Manila Bulletin, 13 November 2005), to wit:

“There are important lessons to be learned by Filipino leaders from the intense, yet civil and constitutional, political discourse now happening in Germany – without violence or threats thereof….  Let us remember that the parliamentary elections in September 2005 called by then incumbent Chancellor Gerdhard Schroeder resulted in his center-left majority coalition’s failure to win a Parliamentary majority – but also failed to give a mandate to his rival Angela Merkel, opposition leader of the Christian Democrat Union/Christian Socialist Union alliance, with the latter winning 226 seats while 222 seats went to the SDP.  That forced the two sides into a ‘shotgun wedding.’

“The outcome was a ‘Grand Coalition’ with the two major political coalitions agreeing to share 16 major Cabinet positions – eight to the Schroeder-SDP group and eight to the Merkel-CDU/CSU alliance, including the position of Chancellor to be occupied by her as Head of Government.”

Germany's unprecedented, Solomonic – but constitutional and nationally-accepted solution to its historic divisions by way of such a "Government of National Unity" carries highly valuable lessons for Filipino leaders and our citizenry.  DIDN’T GERMANY WIN THE 2014 WORLD CUP??

Fighting Corruption

We should also reduce, if not eliminate, the influence that "money politics" exerts on our fragile democracy – particularly now that pork barrels, financial scams, smuggling, and narco-profits are assuming alarming dimensions.

Apart from mass poverty, corruption is the other major drag on the Philippine economy which, ultimately, affects the higher quality of life to which we all aspire.  Today, corruption in government (in its different Malacañang variations – PDAF, DAP, Malampaya, etc. Ad Nauseam) has become endemic and pervasive, and has wasted too much in terms of time, energy and goodwill that otherwise should have been devoted by the Aquino III Administration to attaining needed reforms to reinforce our people’s cohesion, and insure our higher position of respect in the community of nations. 

How are we to check corruption?  The obvious starting point is a honest-to-goodness “back-to-basics” program within government that would instill a greater sense of patriotism, ethical behavior and accountability in public service.  Thus, every public servant must become a model of humility, thrift, integrity and responsibility.

Life-style checks on officials at all levels must be made regularly, without fear or favor.  On the other hand, authorities must detect, expose, and punish bribe-givers who are perennially greedy, selfish and unmindful about others. 

National reforms we must complement with similar efforts at the local level.  The LGU, after all, is the face of State authority and leadership that ordinary people see most often.

SUMMING UP:  DUTY, PEOPLE, COUNTRY

IF WE ARE TO IMPROVE OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AND OUR FUTURE PROSPECTS, WE MUST HAVE THE COURAGE TO CHANGE OURSELVES.  IN OUR FINEST MOMENTS AS A PEOPLE, WE FILIPINOS HAVE PROVED OURSELVES CAPABLE OF HEIGHTS OF COMPETITIVENESS, PATRIOTISM, HEROISM, SACRIFICE AND ACHIEVEMENT. 

OUR COURAGEOUS STRUGGLES OF FOUR CENTURIES AGO WERE HIGHLIGHTED BY OUR NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS FOR INDEPENDENCE CULMINATING WITH THE AGUINALDO DECLARATION AT KAWIT, CAVITE ON 12 JUNE 1898; BY THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN BATAAN, CORREGIDOR AND COUNTRYWIDE DURING WWII FROM 1942 TO 1945; AND BY OUR PEACEFUL PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION OF FEBRUARY 1986 THAT ENDED OPPRESSIVE DICTATORSHIP. 

WE CANNOT REST AFTER EACH CRISIS OR TRIAL THAT TESTS OUR RESILIENCE AS A PEOPLE.  NATION-BUILDING IS A NEVER-ENDING ENDEAVOR.  SUCCESSOR LEADERS AND YOUNGER GENERATIONS MUST CONTINUE TO COMPETE, ADVANCE AND SUCCEED BETTER THAN THEIR ELDERS AND PREDECESSORS. 

WILL SONA 2014 BE A “SHOWNA, SAUNA, SOLONA, SHOOTNA, SONATA”– OR WHAT OUR PEOPLE REALLY WANT, “SANA”(OUR HOPES/ASPIRATIONS FOR A BETTER FUTURE)???

ABANGAN,PART II.

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org.  Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

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