The above title notwithstanding, there is a bigger lesson that I will go into towards the end of this blog entry. But for now, this morning’s brief engagement with one of our society’s most esteemed leaders in the field of scholarly blogging makes for a case study of the power of asking the right questions.
The following is the transcript of a comment made on The Noted One‘s blog article “Published Platforms” that clarifies MLQ3’s response to numerous calls to be a bit clearer on the position he takes on Charter Change published as a comment there on Monday, 28th Dec 2009 at 1:30 pm:
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Thanks for acquiescing MLQ3 [to mine and the persistent queries of a few here who simply seek a bit more clarity on a ideas you’ve tabled] and your usual patience with my usual bluntness.
It may take some time to go over those links [to your extensive body of work that] you provided (you might consider reducing the number of widgets on your site as it kinda crawls most times or simply fails to load), but having all of the relevant [links] in one spot helps.
For now, I did notice though that much of what you write in your [Mon, 28th Dec 2009 1:30 pm] comment seems to incline towards highlighting why changing [in order to progress] is too hard.
Well, sir, real change (the kind Pinoy society really needs) is always hard.
Just because a concept or idea seems unpalatable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. It is easy to come up with millions of reasons not to do something when one is not up to the task to see that something through. But to be truly emboldened to undertake something groundbreaking, it takes a leader with a vision. The Philippines cannot be run by consensus because there are simply too many “experts” with loud voices with lots of “agendas” at stake.
Despite mounds of evidence that what we call “consensus”, “public opinion”, and even “the people’s mandate” (the kind of stuff that gives people like Abe Margallo a hard-on) have ZERO track records of leading our society down the path in which absolute prosperity can be seen as even a remote possibility, we continue to foolishly defer to such nebulous ideals.
Time and again, the Filipino public has shown that their idea of participating in our “democracy” does not go beyond evaluating personalities. As you yourself point out, all the deals have already been made in the background and the “election” that everyone looks forward to in 2010 (in the same way kids lie on their beds awake on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa Claus) is just a quaint (but ridiculously disruptive) ritual to keep the masses feeling “engaged” and “consulted” when an “anointed” bozo takes his seat in Malacanang.
Deference to the “people’s mandate” is just a cop out for people who lack real vision whether they be bloggers or politicians. Noynoy himself in many instances takes the position that he is there to “serve the people’s mandate” yet perverts that concept into one that excuses him from the whole point of being a leader, which is to implement a personal vision for the Filipino Nation — one that is the UNDERLYING MOTIVATION for his bid to become president.
You’ve taken a big step by making a concise statement of your position on the matter of the future of our system of governance:
We all have our personal preferences: mine is for presidential and bicameral, which to me is best poised for an evolution to a federal system so long as we’re prepared to consider the heretical notion of subsuming provinces into regions (gerrymandering being a big problem); i am open to a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system in order to address the desire of legislators to hold executive portfolios. On other issues I am increasingly of the mind that legislative work should mean abolishing term limits but executive work requires term limits. [my boldfaces]
Perhaps build upon the above statement from hereon and refer to your previous treatises across the broad range of options only by exception.
If we rewrite what you said above in bullet points (not[ing] those parts I emphasize in bold), this is how I would interpret your categorical position now:
In order for the Philippines to progress, MLQ3 recommends that we:
(1) Retain for now a presidential bicameral system with the aim of;
(2) Evolving local governance to a federal system which necessarily requires;
(3) Subsuming provinces into regions [or states].
(4) Legislators should be given executive portfolios (presumably to give legitimacy to pork-barrel politics) and as such, transition to a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system may have to accompany the next stage of change.
You take a position and put it out there for critique, then refer back to it cyclically. I think that is “Jose Rizal”‘s and the others’ beef with your style (which of course is yours to apply considering this is your blog).
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And now me, being me, provides herewith the bigger lesson — one that becomes relevant with regard to the sort of questions we field to our politicians in the rare occassions that they man up to face the media (or one another) in a public forum.
Note the manner by which we intelligently engage a popularly-respected thought leader (in this case, a Noted Blogger) in Pinoy society. This is the same manner by which our politicians should be engaged — on the basis of what ideas they put on the table. The responsibility of the constituents of a politician (much the same was as the commentors and followers of noted bloggers) is to crystallise rather than to muddle.
And we should vote for politicians on the basis of what that crystallisation reveals.
We should not content ourselves with our leaders’ (in whatever form they take — politicians, bloggers, “experts”, etc.) off-the-hip assurances. Remember that the Philippines is still a disgracefully backward low-trust society. In contrast with Japan where honour and one’s word rule as Greg Sheridan observes in his book Asian Values Western Dreams…
In Japan there are very few lawyers and the codes are mostly unwritten, but they are binding, nonetheless.
… in the Philippines where Asia wears a [glazed] smile, it is easy to be taken for a ride by people who have made a career of mastering the art of pushing the right buttons that the vacuous minds of the majority of Filipinos readily respond to. The easiest way to change that is to re-write the rules of engagement which we traditionally apply when relating with our leaders.
And doing that requires thinking — not the sort of Filipino-grade thinking that we have become comfy with over the last half-century, but world-class thinking of the sort that befits a 21st-Century Society.