Back to basics

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Saturday, May 17, 2014


MULTIPLE–and obviously fake–“Napolists” smear innocent parties like Reps. Raul del Mar and Gerald Gullas of Cebu over the pork scam. A feudal political system that sports a thin veneer of democratic governance underpin the frauds.

Manila mayor and cashiered president Joseph Estrada and son Sen. Jinggoy tongue-lashed their kin: Sen. JV Ejercito signed the Blue Ribbon Committee report on the pork scam. It recommended charges against JV’s half-brother.

“Erap reprimanded” him, JV said. Yet, he merely echoed the stand, by the padre de familia and Jinggoy, that “all bogus NGOs be probed." Did the patriarch understand? “I hope,” JV said. Not so with his half brother.

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Today, 178 family dynasties sprawl in 73 of 80 provinces. The Binays have four members in Makati. The Marcoses seek to reinforce rehabilitation from People Power exile.

Dynasties “make up 0.00001667 percent of the country’s over 15 million families,” a study by political analyst Roland Simbulan notes. They’ve hoarded power for the past 30 years, churning out seven presidents, two vice presidents, 42 senators and 147 congressmen.

Political inbreeding embeds penury,” notes Asian Institute of Management. Poverty levels, in areas ruled by dynasties, are 5 percentage points worse than in those that are represented by politicians without family links.

Indeed, “for all the trappings of a national government, we are not far from the era of the barangay, and we conduct our affairs pretty much in the manner of Lapu-Lapu and Humabon,” the late historian Horacio de la Costa noted in his paper: “Justice and Development. “The... congressman who moves around with his bodyguards is not much different from the datu surrounded by his retainers.”

Dynastic structures gut values, de la Costa argued. “Since the nation can do little for us, why then should we do much for the nation? And thus we render the nation more impotent, aggravating the need for taking private measures to protect private interests...

“It is not only the captives who should be told about freedom, but also those who hold them in captivity. Often, those who have the power that riches give use it oppressively, not because they are wicked, as because they are blind.

“They only see the face of power...that brings fullfilment of want and whim. They do not see the other face of power...that says little children must go hungry that the powerful may be fed. They do not see. They must be made to see...That is why Christ spent most of his time among to the poor, healing their diseases, driving out devils...

“What does a Filipino expect of himself and for himself? For the Philippines, these are neither formulated nor felt by the community. Some countries, in contrast, have clear national goals. If the people cannot develop goals to be achieved, there’s no way of directing the bureaucracy.”

The nation is not monolithic. Groups pull together, pull apart or pull for themselves. “Often inert, they’re overwhelmed or uncaring. The nation acts only through these groups: from families, labor unions to religious organizations. When active, they keep the state bureaucracy properly oriented.

The Philippines has no great experience of communal democracy. The Church should be deeply rooted in communal life of the people. Like government, (it) is far removed from it.” Our schools enlarge the gulf.

People ask what should we we do? “We can only go back to basic ideas: (a) build communities; (b) link communities with common goals; and (c) recapture the bureaucracy.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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