Progressive culture, not change of gov’t, can address PH’s woes
This refers to the commentary of Asuncion David Maramba, “It’s not the system, it’s the people” (2/19/18) stating that “There are two casts of characters in this drama: first, the framers and probable administrators of this customized federalism, and second, we, the people, who are set, or set up, to accept it.”
It mentioned the speech of former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. on Nov. 21, 2017, before the country’s business club that what is first needed is “authentic and genuine change in the hearts and minds … of our leaders … that they truly be genuine and authentic public servants.” The second is the “same kind … of change in our people” to be “vigilant and assertive as the true … masters of these public servants and always unyielding to the whims and caprices of false or fake public servants ….” It also mentioned the statement during the Senate hearing on Charter change last Feb. 1 of lawyer Christian Monsod, a member of the constitutional commission which drafted the 1987 Constitution, who wondered if “changing the structure of government will change the behavior of our politicians.”
The character, behavior and mindset are some components of culture. The country’s relatively backward culture is reflective of the persistent poverty under a government ruled or influenced by oligarchs in cahoots with political dynasties. It has been said that dynasties breed poverty, poverty breeds dynasties. Poverty is worse in the rural areas especially in the Visayas and Mindanao due to an underdeveloped agriculture which remains the country’s backbone. Despite this, government leaders have given top priority to the development of the service sector catering to the needs of the global economy as shown by the massive deployment of workers abroad and the proliferation of business process outsourcing like call centers.
The above scenario is indicative of the fact that the country has relatively weak governance and an unsustainable economy that makes the Philippines prone to all sorts of “bullying” by other countries. There is no way that the country’s predicament can be solved when our leaders and the public have not learned concrete lessons from the success of neighboring countries such as China, Vietnam and Indonesia. These countries have followed the right path of balanced development that gives importance to agriculture, thus leading to the significant reduction of poverty and attainment of a strong government and a stable economy.
Therefore, it is not the change in the structure of government that really matters but, rather the change to progressive culture. President Duterte, who is trusted by the majority of the people, named by Time magazine as one of the world’s “strongmen,” and ranked by Forbes magazine as the 69th most powerful person, has the moral high ground to lead the way.
EDMUNDO ENDEREZ, firstname.lastname@example.org
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