Thursday, June 22, 2006

Call to Order?

One Voice, a new citizens group, which counts among their ranks some people I have profound respect for, has issued a manifesto today. I have read the manifesto, although I haven’t had time to really study it. I read MLQ’s column today which provides some insightful context on both the group and the various points of the manifesto. Overall, I find myself agreeing with most parts of the advocacy. There are some points that I need more clarification on and I hope that these are addressed in the next few days.

There are some parts of the manifesto that I could sincerely identify with, such that I could very well have written them myself. In fact, I think have written some entries in this blog that hew closely to some of the points the group is raising now. In particular, I did write about the need to craft a "social agenda" that takes away focus from the endless nitpicking and mudslinging.

Parts of one particular blog follows.

"But I think it is time to stop the screaming contest. It is time to bring the discussion to a more constructive level - the objective should be in trying to understand where people are coming from and with full cognizance and appreciation of the fact that whatever we say or do, we are in the same boat together. There are differences in opinions and points of views, but despite the venom and the vitriol that is dripping in the comments in this blog, I truly think that this does not necessarily mean we are against each other.

I think that first, we should get commitment from everyone - and I mean everyone - pro or anti, leftist or rightist, opposition or government - to respect democratic processes. No more extra constitutional solutions. No more coups. No more conspiracies to topple the government through extra-constitutional means. No more arrests without warrants.

Second, I think it is time to bring the discussion to the level of what is "the common good." We can disagree on how to get there, we can disagree on what is the right course of action, but we should all focus on a more strategic goal - a better country in say, three or four year's time. I may be naive in thinking that this is possible, but hey, it is worth a shot. If we can agree on a common vision, then our disagreements can be made more civil and sensible. I think what is tragic today is that we are focusing on short-term goals that divide us rather than on larger goals that can serve as rallying points. And hopefully, viable win-win alternatives can be crafted in the process. And yes, this includes a possible peaceful transition of power through democratic ways.

Third and necessarily, I think that it is time to come to the table with a little more sincerity. I ranted about vested interests and selfish intentions in that letter. It is time to come clean and this is only possible in an environment that is free from moralizing and judging.

Fourth, it is time for ordinary Filipinos to take the discussion and the crafting of the solution out of the hands of the politicians.

It is time to listen to the dreams of ordinary Filipinos. It is time to come together to listen, sincerely and with an open mind, to the sentiments of the people whose only desire is a better future for their children. Who knows, we might be in for some major surprises and true enlightenment."

Some parts of the manifesto that I agree with wholeheartedly are the following:

The problems of this country are larger than keeping GMA in power or not.

I have said this before, and I will say it again: the issue of whether GMA stays in power or is kicked out of office can not be the goal but an outcome that needs to be situated within a bigger agenda. Unfortunately, the problem, which still persists today, is that this preoccupation with kicking GMA out of office has become a "do or die" mission for some people and some groups and this has resulted in what I initially referred to as "moral lynching that has bordered on the desperate."

It does seem that as far as some people are concerned, it doesn’t matter anymore what it would take as long as it gets done, even burning the country down in the process.

The need to recognize and uphold democratic processes as the only framework for all programs and actions. As the manifesto says "Presidents come and go, but out institutions are our lifeline to the future."

I maintain that the best way to regain the people’s trust in our institutions and in our processes is for those who are in a position to lead to do so by example – by showing respect for these institutions and processes (e.g., due process, fairness, etc) regardless of what others do or say.

For example, I find it disheartening that some people continue to trundle such concepts such as honesty, character, morality, etc., while indulging in selective interpretations and prejudiced conclusions to begin with.

Only by taking the higher moral ground can anyone have the right to accuse anyone else of being immoral.

The need to trust and respect the sovereign will of the people.

In the last few months, belonging to the "majority" has been claimed by so many (I made a similar lapse in judgment, for which I apologized). The truth is that no one can claim that he or she speaks for all or most Filipinos. There is only one certified measure of the people’s voice in a democracy: elections.

* * *
Obviously, the one point in the manifesto that I find some reservations with is the first point: discontinuing the people’s initiative. My reservation has nothing to do with content because on this score, I tend to agree with most of the advocacy of One Voice. I think however, that there is no need to shoot down one particular point of view just to advance another, particularly in a document that purports to build a consensus.

Expectedly, the proponents of the People’s Initiative immediately shot back with their own stinging remarks.

I believe that any consensus should be inclusive and should necessarily recognize that, at the very least, the cause of the people’s initiative is worth taking into account. I suppose that proponents of the People’s Initiative see what they are doing as another viable means to "end the political impasse" as well.

However, One Voice does offer an alternative: a constitutional convention after 2007. I think this alternative presents an opportunity for both sides to sit down and come to some points of agreement. After all, they are not the ones who has to decide on what exactly needs to be amended in the constitution.

* * *
And now we come to the question that is foremost in many people’s mind today: the brewing impeachment, which as we all know, is a highly partisan and political exercise. This early, we know that knives are already being sharpened and by the looks of it, the opposing camps have started to dug in and fortify their respective positions.

Where does One Voice intend to position itself in this impending melee? Does being "non-partisan" translate into non-participation in the impeachment complaint?

* * *

All told, howevr, despite these uncertain times, I still keep the belief, no matter how minimal, that there remains some nobility within each of us. Because of this, I remain hopeful that getting this country back on its feet is still very much possible.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that One Voice is the clarion that will lead the way.

6 comments:

cvj said...

Arguments about content aside, i think One Voice cannot support the people's initiative because it would preempt steps 3 (elections in 2007) and 4 (Constitutional Convention after 2007). Anyway, allowing for more opportunities to build consensus on something as fundamental as the Constitution does seem like the prudent thing to do.

If you have the time, I'm hoping you could tell me more about your social agenda.

Anonymous said...

Mr. A,

I hope our people forget Apathy once and for all, and be involved so that we can have a better country for ourselves and our children ... I also believe we can do it in 3-4 years if we all focus on doing in with this common goal...

chris said...

Are we really in that bad situation? Everyday you hear about how pitiful our plight is, but believe it or not the kind of things we are experiencing also happen around the world. Don't think of yourselves as some special sort of people who don't deserve what you have right now. I mean is it really that bad? Life is what we make it.

You try to see the brighter things in life and you won't be so miserable and grumpy and start acquiring the habit of blaming the President for all the maladies in the society.

I think the problem is the people. We accept bribes, we are not patriotic, we vote for moviestars, we don't pay taxes, we litter the Pasig... the list is endless.

What most guys here want is the quick fix. Some utopian social agenda that is pleasing to the ear. We have a damaged culture, so I hope this agenda will be based on that... and also education. And I am not talking about the stupid chairs everybody is picking on.

Let's talk about substance. If anybody knows about the Korean model, for instance, then you know what I mean.

cvj said...

Chris, in the 'Korean Model', their dictator for life was assasinated in a coup, the next dictator who replaced him was sentenced to death (later pardoned) and the next President was also given a long prison sentence. Is that the model you're referring to? If you want us to follow that model, then we have to do our part to hold our leaders into account just as our South Korean counterparts did.

chris said...

uh, sorry not about that. I am talking about education dude - South Korean model. You should meet 1 student and talk with him about it. That would not be too hard since they seem to be all over these days. I've read about a South Korean minister being invited by the DepEd but I don't know what came off it.

CVJ, there's too much politics in your system. You may want to take a break.

Anyway, I'd like to share what one of my Korean friends said: according to him in their country bribery is treated very differently. We're talking about punishment here. During elections the citizen who accepted the bribe will get 100% harsher penalty than the politician who offered it.

cvj said...

Chris, i see. Point taken.