I must admit that the political season provokes me to dream more about what the Philippines can be. Even as I carry doubts about the sincerity of many political promises, reading or listening to what candidates want and plan to do, if they win, makes me think more about my own dream for our people, for our country.
We have to start with a dream. We have to listen to our hearts and then see a vision in our minds. This is where it begins for us – ourselves, our families, our communities, our country. Even if we are not interested in being part of governance in our barangays, our towns or provinces, we have to stay interested as citizens of the republic. That interest in nation is our source of strength, our motivation for contributing to the common good beyond our personal and family interests. The lack of that concern for the collective welfare has also been our greatest weakness.
The curse of partisan politics is that it breaks us apart and keeps us apart forever. The understanding of democracy is as shallow as the benefits it bestows on Filipinos. Poverty even ahead of corruption remains the most formidable enemy of democracy. Poverty in the Philippines has been more common than the common good. Yet, the dream of raising the majority poor out of poverty has not been the dream of political and economic leadership, not even of the religious hierarchy. It is not because the rich, the powerful, the learned and the influential hate the poor, just that they don’t care enough either. We cannot dream about anything our anyone we do not care enough for, period.
Democracy is supposed to be a form of governance that encourages and demands prioritizing the common good over smaller vested interests. By its very nature and definition, democracy is supposed to be for the people, of the people, by the people. In a perverted manner, “people” have become to mean a few or just some and not the majority. Democracy has been used to legitimize and deodorizer the rule of the very few over the very many. It is true of many nations and is even more true in the Philippines, a bigger than average model of the top 1% owning and controlling more than the 99%.
To camouflage this perversion of democracy, the Philippines has elections every three years. During the election period, the politicians who pay homage to the top 1% all join the grand deception that we are a democratic main. Candidates who want to govern seek electoral victory from popular votes, meaning victory by popularity. Yet, those who are less popular will tell the voting public not to vote on the basis of popularity. They enter a game which favors popularity and then campaigns against it. Democracy then becomes a farce not only because it is an oligarchy pretending to be something else but because it is a popularity game pretending to call for intelligent voting.
Election by popularity is the only game in town. Maybe what some would like to change in the understanding of the majority among the voting public, or the masa, is that what is wise must be what is popular as well. We must not be so stupid as to let two promoted virtues collide and neutralize one another. Democracy stands on the common good, on the popular vote, and strives for raising the consciousness of society or the wisdom of citizens. Leadership, therefore, must not lead in stupidity by provoking a conflict of priorities. If voting wisely and voting by popularity conflict, it is incumbent on the leaders of democracy to reconcile these two and make them augment one another.
In other words, if leadership and other lovers of democracy wish for this form of government to continue, then the corresponding value system must change to accommodate the majority of Filipinos even if they are poor, or especially because they are. Political, economic and religious leaders must make as a priority, before, during and after elections, the dismantling of poverty and freeing our people from its crippling stranglehold. The dream must be the emancipation of the poor and all other dreams must only be supplementary and should be complimentary. The dream, whether it is political, economic or religious, must be all about the pathway and journey of the majority of Filipinos out of poverty towards opportunity and productivity.
The platform of government, whether real or just a promise, must support the democratic dream. Front and center must be ideas, concepts, plans, programs and resources dedicated to raise our poor and the majority out of poverty and into mainstream opportunity and productivity. Poverty cannot be dismantled via government intervention unless government, representing societal leadership, cannot present a roadmap to prosperity via the emancipation of the poor.
Unfortunately, the ruling class of businessmen and their politicians cannot subordinate their personal interests for the collective welfare. It doors not mean to say that elevating the common good over the personal interests is necessarily against the ruling class. But if the ruling class believes that prioritizing the dismantling of poverty is against their interests, then the ruling class should seek to be citizens of other countries, not the Philippines. Our else, they will work to further their interests even if goes against the poor and the majority.
The present preoccupation with politicians and corruption is a serious distraction and itself guarantees the failure in the battle against corruption. Worse, it also guarantees the failure of the battle against poverty. At the present, only the magnificent effort of OFWs to take themselves and their families out of poverty is really effective. The OFWs have also become a development force for the country and deserve to be treated as investors as much as foreign businesses. But again, that is another story that merits its exclusive write-up.
As a parting shot with this article, let me just ask more Filipinos to dream one dream, and to put rhe plight of our poor as a priority concern of that dream. Let us not allow partisanship to continue to weaken us and let it end on May 9.
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