The Philippines is morally bankrupt. What are we to do about it?

Koncepto Millenya, a flying car drone created by Filipino inventor Kyxz Mendiola [Photo from Carscoops, article by Brad Anderson, 11/2018]

Opinion

By Joe America

If the Philippines is a Catholic nation, or otherwise religious, how can it be morally bankrupt? It has a Constitution and laws. It has a broad educational system that teaches honesty and doing right things.

Yet the nation is morally bankrupt. Corrupt, incompetent, and fake in the sense that it persecutes the innocent, denies accountability for anything wrong, and trolls ‘yellow’s or ‘reds’ while considering their objections to be sedition or terror.

I wrote on Twitter:

“We need a moral revolution, people who believe in fairness and kindness and justice under laws asserting their will. Populist liars and thieves are too much. They are amoral. You can’t trust them or depend on them. It’s exhausting dealing with their nonsense. We can do better.”

It raised the question, “how?”

That’s what I’d like to address today.

First, let’s understand that a nation’s moral character is not found in books like the Bible, or slogans on school walls, or even in its laws if those laws are ignored or overturned. It is found in the nation’s needs.

Let’s take an example, a bit odd, perhaps, but instructional. In the Philippines, it is acceptable for young women to marry older men, often many years advanced. In the US, such large age gaps are considered strange, or even inappropriate. So who is right and who is wrong? Well, the US is rich, the Philippines is poor. Context is king, and needs define moral values. Any struggling Filipina who can find a way out of her lifelong misery is understood, in the Philippines. Even looked upon with envy.

Both acceptance of the age gap and the envy get incorporated as a part of the moral fabric.

Religion in the Philippines does not always impel good behavior. It often masks bad behavior. It too often is not pro-active, leading people to new heights. It is defensive, reactive, giving solace to people with no place to go.

“Joe, you are babbling. I thought you were going to explain how we could get to better moral character!”

Yes. Sorry for going off on a tangent. The point is that morality is defined by needs, not by religion, laws, schooling, or other structural and superficial displays of proper living.

We can preach righteously until purple of face but it won’t convince anyone of anything. They are still living in a confined world of limited means.

Two steps are needed to instill moral values that are healthy rather than destructive, and real rather than superficial.

First, elect a president who has the kind of values you want. If you think lying and power plays are healthy, elect another Duterte. If you think truth, decency, and productivity are healthy, elect a straight-shooter.

I presume most readers of this article want a straight shooter and see how unequal, indecent, corrupt, incompetent, and non-productive a crony-based government can be.

The next step is harder. The straight shooter has to do more than say the people are the ‘boss’, as did President Aquino with wholly good intent. He was trying to convey a sense of responsibility to a people deaf to those terms.

The straight shooter has to replace resilience, which is basically resignation to going nowhere, with a sense of a nation and a people, each and every one, on the move.

That straight shooter cannot simply adjust the moral framework. He or she needs to destroy it, within existing laws. The singular, obsessive goal must be to inject opportunity into people’s lives. Lots of it. Policies and deeds flowing from them must instill so much hope that it destroys the complacency, the envy, the fakery, the moral bandages, the scape-goating, and the sense that ‘nothing I do matters’. Root it out. Get rid of it.

This has to be done with tangible steps that redefine how the Philippines works. It has to go around the LGUs which are hopelessly bound to dynastic power mongering. And it has to redirect the legislature away from self-dealing and toward nation-building.

Here are examples of how to build opportunity into the nation’s moral code to replace envy, anger, and ignorance as values defining the Philippines.

  • End contractual labor and replace it with mandated career paths for all government agencies, LGUs, and businesses with 50 or more employees. Make nepotism illegal. Hire and promote based on skill and achievement. Pay skill more.
  • Forget ROTC. Require two years of public service for every high school graduate. Move people from passive to active, from apathetic to responsible, and point them to real job opportunities. Have ‘OFW’ as a career choice, and military service.
  • Make distance learning 20% to 80% of all primary education, grades 4 and above. Provide the gear and the bandwidth. Ease the classroom crush. Build new disciplines. Leverage good teachers. Improve content.
  • Return the Ombudsman to independence, open financial records to law enforcement, and fund the trackdown of corrupt government officials and their private partners. Clear the jails of the downtrodden to make room for the social and financial pariahs.
  • Build an industrial base that powers national development: agribusiness rather than cooperatives, sustained land and sea management, build a military-industrial manufacturing base, automate government agencies, and build a real technology hub (at Clark). Jobs. Skills. Exports. Get moving into the first world.

I’m sure you can think of other ways to break the model of dark, negative thinking. For sure, you can’t keep the same model and expect different results.

Be bold, not safe.

Do some first class nation-building.

The moral code will follow, fast.

 

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