Better Philippines through a divergent unity
May 9, 2022 will be remembered by many Filipinos for years to come. For over 30 million Filipinos, it was a day of victory for a dream of unity, a return to a “golden age” and a return to P20 per kilo for rice. For close to 15 million, it was a day of waking up to a realization that a resurgent and tireless campaign for servant leadership and integrity in public service had failed to gain enough traction for a win. Hopefully, for the over 30 million, their dreams will be realized and, for the 15 million, their dreams will not be snuffed out. Dreams, after all, drive hope, motivate people to action, and fuel passion.
It has always been the dream for a strong democracy that drove the volunteerism needed for our citizen election arms to get their jobs done. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections must once again be praised and thanked for accomplishing the needed herculean efforts for meaningful election monitoring. Mobilizing hundreds of thousands of volunteers, they were able to confirm the validity and integrity of the recent national elections, allaying most fears of possible electronic fraud. So, whether we like the results of the elections or not, we all must be one in expressing gratitude to the women and men who lead these organizations and equally thank every single volunteer, especially the youth, who raised a hand and stood up when they were called.
While our citizen’s arms have done a good job, our dream of truly just, fair, and honest election exercises remains elusive. I believe that it is high time that our three citizen arms lead a broader multistakeholder effort to address vote-buying, campaign finance, disinformation and fake news, enforcement of campaign rules, and political dynasties that, left unchecked, will soon render their election monitoring efforts useless—mere tokenism. These subvert our election results, and unless progress is achieved to mitigate their impacts, it may no longer be worth the cost and effort to conduct elections. Might as well let surveys decide the outcome.
Like free enterprise and a level playing field for doing business, election exercises that reflect the genuine will of the people can only lead to better lives for more and more people and a better Philippines as the system churns out true servant leaders. Today, the most successful campaigns teach us that entertainment and social media are the best paths to leadership positions; not performance, not hard work and commitment, and not education and impressive credentials. This does not augur well for the extreme challenges that climate change is bringing to us as an island nation nor will it better place us in the continuing global political shifts and intramurals going on, including in our region. The right leaders allowed countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, and Finland to manage the pandemic well. We urgently need to empower our electorate and enable them to elect similar right leaders who will prioritize their welfare, especially in times of crisis.
For the incoming government, we must hope that they deliver on the dreams of unity that they wove effectively in the campaign. That unity must first and foremost tap into the huge mandate that they gained by giving as many opportunities as possible for their supporters to become part of and benefit from real solutions. For those who led the Pink Movement, opportunities for concrete action to keep the flames of servant leadership alive must be sustained. Converting the campaign movement into the largest volunteer network for change and action is the right path. The incoming government must welcome and encourage this direction for the Pink Movement and this network, in turn, should be willing to help enhance what the new government aims to accomplish to make lives better for more and more Filipino families. I would like to call this a divergent unity. This is a dream we can all share to fuel the actions needed for a better Philippines!
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Peter Angelo V. Perfecto is former executive director of Makati Business Club, works with the Phinma group, and chairs Oxfam Pilipinas. Email: [email protected]
Business Matters is a project of Makati Business Club.
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