Private Venturing Politics in the Philippines

I’m going to make a connection here and invite you to extend your thinking a bit to grasp it. And maybe extend your acts, too, if you have that kind of influence.

The issue facing us is the fundamental ineffectiveness of Philippine democratic institutions and processes. There are three branches of government, supposedly co-equal. Here is a rough idea of the status of each:
  • Executive. Led by a capable, honest family “name”, Noynoy Aquino. Mr. Aquino tends to favor friends for high positions, whether because of confidence or comfort, it is hard to tell.  He rewards those who have worked to fulfill his ideals. He requires honesty and straight dealing and expects a lot from subordinates, so his picks are generally good ones. In that way, he is a good leader. He also has a lot of activity in the pipeline as all of his cabinet secretaries have their priorities and marching orders. Still, he does not press forward independently on important social programs like RH or FOI, and never something shocking like divorce. So progressive initiatives get bogged down.
    Source: Mars One Project
  • Legislature. Stuck up like an engine filled with Mighty Bond. The Legislature could correct the weaknesses of Executive by pressing forward with bills to modernize the Philippines, but it does not. Indeed, the Legislature is largely frozen in time, stuck between Catholic/Trapos values and sporadic efforts by younger thinkers to modernize. But the progressives have no power. When the majority leader of the senate, Senator Sotto, can bog RH deliberations down by making four lengthy speeches on a subject that could easily be dealt with in 10 minutes, we know we are dealing with an organization mired in political game-playing. That his arguments are stolen from others means he has little personal pride invested in thinking things through honestly and honorably. He’s a master game-player. The Senate is not energized by public interest. The House of Representatives is younger, more flexible, and will march to the tune of the President because it is in their pork-laden interest to do so. But the Senate gums up good works. The Legislature is not effective. Period.
  • Courts. This is the biggest nightmare imaginable. The courts are jammed with no sense of priority, corrupt methods, and damn little justice. People who are legitimately damaged cannot get damages corrected because it takes money and so much time that they give up. 25 years to deal with the Hacienda case and it is still open for judgments. New Chief Justice Sereno is facing jealousy and bitterness among the justices she is supposed to lead and, indeed, seems the lightweight they claim she is by calling to God for strength rather than intellect. Two glimpses of hope for a new environment: SALN’s of Supreme Court Justices have been released, and a new bill has been passed to get some load off the courts, namely the requirement that courts certify citizen requests for name and date corrections to birth certificates. However the mass of the judicial mess is huge, and it will take years to correct.
So we have an Executive that is sound and honest, and could lead the nation strongly forward, but chooses not to in areas that provoke hostility from the Church (RH) or power-people (FOI). The Legislative and Judicial branches of government are lost to the public as their representatives, respectively, of social modernization and justices.
Switch gears entirely.
A few days ago, a Dutch consortium announced its plans to put people on Mars in 2028 as a private venture. Here is the link to the article. If you take the time to review the brief video imbedded in the article, you will hear one of the principals explain that by going private, the initiative can proceed forthrightly, faster and cheaper because it does not get bogged down in the political bickering, or the shove and push of vested interests who are behind the politicians.
The program will be funded by selling rights to video the mission as a reality television show.
Is there a lesson here?
If you want poor women of the Philippines to be educated, and to have condoms, you would be better off to organize and fund the effort privately than beat your head against the congressional brick heads and walls. You can seek donations from wealthy Filipinos. If they don’t have a passion for Philippine well-being, go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or the Clinton Foundation or other global organizations set up to advance the well-being of women on planet man.
Go around the Executive and Legislative blockades. Reduce them to the irrelevancy they are striving so hard to achieve.
If you want the FOI Bill passed, organize to publicize the critical information that is being held back and make sure people know: (1) why it is critical, and (2) who is hiding it. You turn over one rock at a time. And make sure that people know which legislators, and who within Executive, are supporting the hiding of information from the public. President Aquino made the point in his 2012 SONA that the public is boss.
  • “I stand before you today as the face of a government that knows you as its Boss and draws its strength from you. I am only here to narrate the changes that you yourselves have made possible.” (President Aquino, 2012 SONA)
Prove it. Prove that you are the boss.
The only organization I see that is proactive in representing public interest is the PCIJ, the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism. A number of blog sites agitate for progressive acts but they are fractionalized and, not unified, represent irritating flies on an elephant’s butt. They are not a tiger, strong and threatening.
That’s the take-away I get in looking at the entire Senate ignoring the blogging firestorm over Senator Sotto’s outrageously bad ethics.
There are no organized women’s groups having heavy impact. We can hear a lot of sporadic shouting from here or from there. The noise is mostly ignored by leaders who are listening to the louder, organized cry of the CBCP.
There is no VOICE for women.
More flies.
Perhaps the Filipino penchant for doing things “my way” gets in the way of organizing to speak as a unified voice (refer to the recent blog “How Filipino Personal Independence Undermines Community“).
Well, ladies, I’d say you ought to get your act together, privately.
And FOI mavens, build your own ship to Mars.
And RH backers? Forget about that irrelevancy called the Senate, organize, and go straight to poor women with your messages and assistance.
The Senate does not want to do its duty to drive the Philippines progressively forward?
Let them stew there in their own muck. Irrelevant.
Mars or bust!
Privatize, oganize and modernize.
17 Responses to “Private Venturing Politics in the Philippines”
  1. brianitus says:

    Ah, sir. You nailed it. Basic question will always be: What are you prepared to do to see what you believe is right become a part of daily Philippine life?I certainly hope those passionate enough can go beyond "Like" and "Share." Sotto-bashing will get old…and will eventually be forgotten.

  2. I must have nailed it to get promoted to "sir" from "crazy old man!" Like Pacquiao went from sergeant to colonel. And you are right, the basic question is, what will each of us do to walk what we talk. Look inward first. Of course, if you aspire to get rich in the blogging business, like Joe Am, you can start to look outward after you have mastered inward. Its a requirement of the profession.

  3. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)1. 10 thumbs up for this article and somecreative ways and means to do a "end run" around the roadblocks to success–I hope I am still alive to see creative progress!2. I would value any suggestions, ideas, commentsto save the tax payer time-money-lives by expiditingthe governmental mis-managment system that seems tobe just about "everlasting"-time wasting issue(like ber rabbit and the tar-baby)! Perhaps a bonusand merit system–a bounty placed on topics/issues/problems solutions (similar to the Joe Am governmentemployee/elected person rating system) might besomething that would prove fruitful: put a time clockon each item and publish the list monthly…!Observation: no one likes to be held-up/stuck-upor stepped-on but if the senate were to just stop picking the pockets of the people (by the waste of time) our islands might well become areal tourist spot…instead of a death trap!Chirp!

  4. That is another brilliant idea from the rocking chair. A simple check-list of when a major Bill is presented in committee, how long it takes in each step of deliberation, and where it is today. I rather think two words would attach to the list: (1) inefficient, and (2) shameful. The mind view, and the heart view. RH would be the poster bill.But it is fruitless, I think. Because legislators are there at their convenience, or for their fame and enrichment, and don't really care.

  5. Privatizing the distribution of condoms and contraceptives. Good idea except you run into local government officials who can prohibit the sale and distribution of such items in their locality in the absence of a national law that says otherwise. So that's one reason for the passage of the RH Bill: to prevent local officials like the Alabang town council and Manila Mayor Lito Atienza (during his incumbency) from passing local ordinances that frustrate wonderful ideas like the one you proposed. Where there's a will there's a won't as the old saying goes.

  6. brianitus says:

    Hahaha. I thought of being polite today, sir. and get rich in the blogging business? Hmmm, I certainly hope I won't get a big surprise in the future. Come to think of it, JoeAm promoting gadgets, bags and restaurants in his blog…makes a lot of cents to me. Kidding.and I meant "crazy old man" in the most polite manner possible. hehehe.

  7. Wow. I didn't know that. So I can own a pharmacy and be ordered to stop selling goods that would help stop the spread of AIDS? Amazing.I think my privacy approach would be to go on the hunt for such mayors and make sure they are out on their asses next election. Certainly the courts would provide no relief, although that is the logical place to take a complaint.Or I'd set up my pharmacy just outside the city limits and advertise condoms. I'd also have a lot of well armed security guards.Better to pass the RH Bill, I know.Thanks for the disheartening enlightenment.

  8. Polite? I took it as a compliment. When I get the readership up to about 10,000 per day, then I start plopping ads up there and over there. And down there. It's the modern way, with assist by google adsense.

  9. Edgar Lores says:

    Is there no end to Filipino infamy?I am with Jim-e, I would like to see a wide swath of green, bordered by many flowers, before I fall by the wayside. Just like the background of this blog.

  10. andrew lim says:

    You beat me to it. But in the event RH does not pass, this is the best way to go I think. Yes, men like Atienza can attempt to block it, but replacing them will be much easier as they are on 3 yr terms. Also, if you can get enough local opposition against them you can pressure them to abandon the idea like what happened in Alabang. It will look like a pitched battle, city to city.

  11. chohalili says:

    How encouraging, I just become a new grandma! but Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead! I wish I have the chutzpah!

  12. Lola chohalili, well congratulations! That's great. You have the chutzpah, I know, for you have called me out on occasion, when I needed it. As for building a progressive Philippines, the grandkids are likely to be the builders. Make sure they grow up with fine values.

  13. brianitus says:

    Good luck with the business side of blogging.

  14. This is where the problem begins. Philippine laws are lacking in accuracy and precision. The Magna Carta of Women, for example, has the following adjectives; Responsible, ethical, legal, safe, and effective to describe methods of family planning. The Philippine Constitution is another glaring example, it states ,"It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception." Conception is one stage inaccessible to current technologies. Pregnancy (implantation) is the proper medical term that can be defined, established and tested. The RH bill, if ever passed, will probably be as vague. Taking conception as the beginning of personhood leads to a classification of "abortifacients", which provides enough legal maneuver for some officials to deny access to some artificial methods of conception – the clinical studies on this issue are yet unclear – partly because manufacturers of drugs, in an effort to advertise greater effectiveness of their products, include in their claims a secondary mechanism (preventing implantation).

  15. Angel, I find your views enlightening even if I am not always aligned with them. But this article's "private initiative" theme is an extension of your point that President Aquino has a lot of authority already, and could be pushing forward without all the angst and argument and delay. Similarly, citizens need not sit back and watch.

  16. Yes, Aquino has plenty of political capital to spend – with his popularity rating at a high level, he can do a lot regarding what he believes is the right direction for the country. He is doing this with basic education in the country, why can he not do the same hardheadedness with regard to rights of women?

  17. chohalili says:

    Ahihihihi thanks! may the force be with you Jedi Knight!

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