IN A CNN Philippines’ recent forum TV anchors asked candidates their stand on some of the day’s burning issues. As expected, pro administration candidates staunchly defended President Duterte’s strategies while the antis assailed them to the point, as it seemed, of overkill. No side conceded a point to the other. No “yes but” rebuttals but only total demolition of each side’s position.
This tells me these were not honest deeply-thought-of answers but impassioned posturing for votes. How else can it happen that highly educated senatorial candidates could not converge on a solution to any one problem?
The not-so-hidden message of the antis is that the administration is wrong not just in part but totally and the solution is to change the administration by voting for the opposition in coming elections.
The problem with this is we have been see-sawing between administrations of one or the other faction of the elite in the past yet majority of the Filipino people have remained in a dark economic, political and cultural place.
Backtracking a bit, a lot of people are dumping on the laps of corrupt officials the blame for the country’s many social ills. This is true and correct but only until you ask who produces shamelessly dishonest leaders who do not serve the common good but only their family interests. Who but a tribalistic people that has not learned to be Filipino and to work for the common good?
And what produces a nation of leaders and followers who do not value integrity and the common good? What else but that society’s culture? Our still very colonial culture produces shamelessly thieving leaders who get elected into office by politically immature and selfish voters who go for the candidate that promises to give them the most economic benefits.
Religion and education are the main generators of culture. So, what is the Catholic Church of most Filipinos doing to instill in people the Christian values of integrity and service to others? What are private and public schools doing to graduate wise, politically mature and nationalistic Filipinos who appreciate and work for the common good?
To walk its pro-poor talk, the Catholic Church has to go from ritual piety to social justice. Schools have to stop spoon-feeding knowledge to students and instead facilitate their attainment of wisdom, integrity, and self-respect. Corrupt politicians, by the way, are utterly without self-respect.
There are no short term solutions. No administration can be the solution as long as culture constructs a people that are part of the problem. We need an overhaul of our sense of values over the long term. For the short term we need a convergence on the need for what has to be a cultural revolution.