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PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE, CITIZENSHIP AND LEADERSHIP


 

Citizenship, as we all know, is neither a just part-time job nor a casual hobby.  It is an everyday obligation.  Concerned citizens like you and me and our national and local leaders must, therefore, work harder then ever before – to develop more powerful Weapons of Mass Upliftment (WMUs) to be applied against mankind’s real enemies, foremost of which are poverty, corruption, greed, selfishness, complacency, disease, and climate change. 

Our WMUs begin with good governance, quality education, teamwork, creativity, pro-action, international cooperation, environmental protection, and other empowering qualities that lead to our country's greater competitiveness and sustainable development in our fast-changing world.

Once – some 116 years ago – we Filipinos were the models for all Southeast Asians in terms of attaining independent nationhood.  Our nationalist revolution sparked by Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Emilio Aguinaldo whose struggles led to colonial Asia's first free and sovereign Republic.  And there was a time – during the mid-1950s – when we seemed headed for long-term economic success, next only to a MacArthur-engineered Japan.

The Early Katipunan

It is important for Filipinos to recall the early beginnings of our revolution against Spain – if only to appreciate the tremendous odds against its eventual success.  History books tell us that on 12 April 1895 (Good Friday), a group of leaders of the Katipunanmet in the secrecy of the Pamitinan Cave in Sitio Wawa, Montalban (now Rodriguez, Rizal Province) and inscribed on its walls:  "Viva La Independencia de Filipinas!"  

There, the rebel leaders conspired to revolt for the cause of freedom. But more than just committing to rise against the Spaniards, they also organized a fighting force to spearhead the overthrow of the regime.  They chose as their symbol of defiance the letter "K," and in the battles that followed that symbol would be a potent weapon in itself – a badge of valor and image of what had, for centuries, been the people’s secret longing for independence.

Today, as we reflect on these historic footsteps of the Katipunanmade holy by its covenant with God, country and people – as manifested in its "Decalogo" (10 Commandments), we realize that the Katipuneroswere driven by both their patriotic fervor and a holy cause – that of Pamathalaan– or Pamamahala na Kasama si Bathala(Governance with God as Companion).

What took place at Pamitinan Cave was, essentially, a blood compact and commitment to a future of sacrifice and possible early death. Within months, the Katipunanunder Andres Bonifacio had gathered enough strength to challenge the Spaniards, and launched a series of battles around Manila starting with the "Cry of Pugad Lawin" on 23 August 1896. 

Good Governance The Crucial Element

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

So what are citizens to do?

In our globalized world, good governance has become the crucial element in a country's competitiveness.  We must insist that government – in its every branch, every department, every agency, and every 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.

If countries need iron ore, financial capital, scientists, or whatever, they can nowadays "outsource" such essential requirements.  Manpower, materials, capital, and even intellectual resources no longer hold the key to competitiveness – because countries which lack any of these resources can "import" or "outsource" them.

The only thing that countries cannot outsource is good government – which must be homegrown – along with national solidarity, competence, teamwork, and other cherished values.

Good governance must be developed and strengthened in-country – and we Filipinos must require it as the unswerving duty of leaders in order to attain our better future.  To make this happen, we must raise our collective voices, integrate our collective efforts, and use our collective votes. 

Strategic Tasks of Government

The government we need is one that knows its priorities – and which is both tough enough and smart enough – to achieve them.  We see government's urgent, continuing priorities as the following:

First – government should strive, earnestly and decisively, to help the Filipino poor help themselves – because poverty is the mother of our problems.  As our revolutionary leaders demonstrated, self-help and self-reliance are powerful WMUs.  Direct action against mass poverty should focus on poor people's most urgent personal needs:  avoiding illnesses, having decent homes, completing basic education, accessing equal opportunities to climb upward, and having enough food every day.

Second – government's basic role is to provide the framework within which people's enterprise can flourish.  That framework has four components:

(a)Political stability and civil order, without which no enterprise can prosper sustainably;

(b)The rule of law that assures a level playing field of competition and the validity of business contracts;

(c)A sound macro-economic policy environment which guarantees predictable planning factors, a stable currency, and reasonable prices for people's basic needs; and

(d)The physical infrastructure needed for people's mobility which private industry cannot itself provide.  This includes not only telecommunications, roads/bridges, uninterrupted power supply, seaports/airports, water systems, etc. but also investments in human capital – in healthcare, education, skills training, cultural assets, technology transfer, and the like.

Our priority economic principle should be to reduce government's power to decide winners and losers in business, by curtailing its authority to award or withhold incentives, subsidies, concessions, and franchises.  But "free enterprise" should not mean enterprise free of public accountability.  

Fighting Corruption

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.  Corruption in government today has become endemic and pervasive. 

How are we to check it?  The obvious starting point is an honest-to-goodness “back-to-basics” program within government that would instill a greater sense of patriotism, ethical behavior and accountability in public service.

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 and unmindful about others. 

The discretionary power of the administrative bureaucracy we must reduce by greater transparency in policy-making – and by institutionalized monitoring and control thru citizen participation.

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

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

Competing In The “Knowledge Society”

Basically, we need to prepare our young people to compete and prevail in the "knowledge society."  Scientific discoveries and technological inventions are opening new frontiers for humankind in today’s world. 

Value today is created by "productivity" and "innovation" – both of which are applications of knowledge put to work.  And, the most successful economic groups are those who best know how to allocate knowledge to productive use.

What each young Filipino will get out of education should, ideally, be an open and active mind that keeps one eager to discover things for oneself.  Indeed, an inquiring mind is the best companion not only for one’s initial ventures – but for a lifetime!  The higher purpose of education is to teach young people to teach themselves.  And, after acquiring formal education one continues to cultivate habits of curiosity and study, then that fortunate person will be learning throughout his/her lifetime. 

That is why dialogue and consultation plus books, newspapers, magazines, radio-television networks, and multimedia in its totality constitute one of mankind’s most powerful WMUs.

DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY

IF WE ARE TO IMPROVE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, 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 AND SACRIFICE. 

OUR COURAGEOUS STRUGGLES OF TWO 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 DEMOCRACY IN BATAAN, CORREGIDOR AND COUNTRYWIDE DURING WWII FROM 1942 TO 1945; AND BY OUR PEACEFUL PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION THAT ENDED DICTATORSHIP IN FEBRUARY 1986. 

WE CANNOT REST AFTER EACH 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. 

STRIVING EVER UPWARD TO THE NEXT HIGHER LEVEL OF EXCELLENCE SHOULD BE THE LOGICAL PROCESS FOR FILIPINOS IN ORDER TO ATTAIN A BETTER FUTURE. 

KAYA NATIN ITO!!!

AND, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY AND GRANDFATHER’S DAY TO ALL OF US!!!

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

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