Lessons from traditional politics-A A +A
Friday, October 22, 2010
(Editor's Note: This is a serialized version of Mr. Valdehuesa's book 'A Nation of Zombies', which explores the 'trapo' politics permeating our society today, and how bad governance is aided by apathetic citizens. This is the third in a series; the second came out last Wednesday.)
SO ADDLED has our system become, jarred by persistent attempts at manipulation that in order to reorient it, it is necessary to put back elective officials in their proper places, as public servants. They should no longer be indulged in their pretensions, posturing s overlords and cavalier dispensers of the public wealth that they have come to believe they are. Unless they are reined in and made to stop the abuse and the plunder, Philippine-style democracy will continue to malfunction. Good governance will remain a quixotic quest.
Lesson No. 2: No statue, no regime of checks and balances, can curb graft and corruption unless the people are truly enfranchised and the politicians are made truly accountable. If the popular will is to prevail, the citizenry's exercise of their sovereignty must be freed from the machinations of vested interests.
Already, the traps have succeeded in delimiting the exercise of sovereignty to the solitary act of voting on Election Day. Voting per se, does not provide the dynamism required by a democratic order. The people's participation in defining the public agenda or the governments priorities, and occasion to influence official acts and decisions, are what make for a vibrant democracy. Short of these, as events prove time and again, leaders become presumptuous and take liberties with the public trust, as they did in the aforementioned Con Ass imbroglio.
Lesson No. 3: The force of people power is needed in one's community even more than in Edsa.
Although it is less dramatic at the local level, it is the effective way to induce reforms in the field of communication term as the "feedback loop" in which back-and-forth messages, responses, expectations, and reactions interact constantly is essential to assure good governance. This loop assures understanding, coordination, and cooperation between government and constituent correcting misperceptions, rectifying agreements, and resolving issues. It is the process that keeps governance oriented properly and in the proper spirit.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 22, 2010.