Million People March at Ayala

Million People March 2

Right now, there is a discussion on the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), prompted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s “revelation” about lawmakers who received money after voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Malacanang defended the allocation of such money, saying that they were released under what is called the Disbursement Allocation Program. While this “revelation” is significant as it shows the government’s larger system of spoils, this also seems like a blatant diversion to the PDAF scam. Estrada aimed to divert people’s attention away from the PDAF scam and his friends Bong Revilla, Johnny Enrile and Janet Lim Napoles, by making known the DAP scam. But it’s not making him look better, because he was also involved in it. He has placed himself in so much hot water, that he will come out deep-fried.

Anyway, why I am putting this issue again to the fore? Because for the nth time, I would want our government to know that we ARE watching and NOT stopping. I want people to not forget. The Philippine panopticon is working better and clearer upside down, contrast to the way its windows were fogged because of ultra-low temperature air-conditioning when it was standing upright. Our lawmakers used to not mind us the middle class – they couldn’t see through the fog that covered them and their corrupt ways. Now that they can see us, they are minding us, fearing and trying to hide from us.

The next rally that we will be having will be tomorrow, October 4, 2013, in Ayala Avenue, in Makati, from 5:30 pm onwards. It’s the second Million People March. Makati is the biggest business district Metro Manila, so I expect to see employees and big business leaders gather to listen to the concrete calls to action that will be laid out. In all of the Philippines’ people power history, this might be the most unromanticized one, and most productive just yet because it will have objective follow-throughs, not bent on exacting revenge on anyone, but real change in the system. Just like any business proposal that has been approved, the anti-PDAF movement will finally have a to-do list in order to reach its goals.

This is a good political exercise, because it shows the people’s propensity now to engage, not just with civil society groups, but private individuals who want change. It’s something monumental, and because of this, I hope all of us who can, would join.

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“Freedom!”

My favorite song from the musical, “Les Miserables” is “Do You Hear the People Sing?”. I was delighted to find a Tagalog version of the song, penned by Youtube member dmmsanjuan:

Here are the lyrics:

Do You Hear The People Sing? (Tagalog version)
O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ikaw ba’y papanig na
Sa bayan na nagkaisa
Sa gitna nitong dilim
Liwanag ba’y iyong hiling
Kaya’t tayo na, humayo patungo sa paglaya!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ibibigay ba ang lahat
Nang adhika’y maging ganap
Mayro’ng mapapaslang
Makibaka’y tila sugal
Dugo ng martir
Ang sa lupa’y didilig!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

The song is apt as several of its lines speak about the people’s anger against widespread corruption in the government. Yesterday, two rallies occurred – a prayer rally at EDSA, and a rally lead by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College along Katipunan Avenue aptly called “Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon”. Interestingly, I was wearing white but not on purpose (white is the color of the anti-pork barrel scam movement).

A few of the people I’ve met from the disciplines of political science and public governance have stated that if the Freedom of Information Bill was passed into law years back, then this would not have happened. 10 Billion Philippine Pesos have already been spent on making the oligarchs rich. For this it’s high time to pass the Freedom of Information bill. I first learned about the bill four years ago when I worked as a volunteer for Transparency and Accountability Network.  It was conceived almost twenty years ago and continues to languish. To read more about it, click here.

The reason why I’m writing this, is because of its significance in changing our government’s ways. I do not see the immediate and total abolition of the pork barrel by 2014, but I am hopeful. And as they are working towards abolishing it, then we must have concrete provisions that will allow us to see how the judiciary, legislative and executive (especially its agencies whom I hope will handle the budget for the different services) spend the appropriated money. This is my tax. This is your tax. To foreigners reading this – heck this is your Filipino friends’ and relatives’ taxes! We all deserve to know better, and the only real way to do this legally, is to pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With better budget appropriations, and this law, we will achieve a genuine sense of freedom, which we’ve long fought for.

Also, there is another rally in Luneta tomorrow:

rock and rage against pork

Until the government budges, we will not stop shoving them to the straight path they vowed to lead us to.

Right to Know, RIght Now! Scrap Pork Barrel!

Why Political Loyalism is Problematic

“If not for [personality], we wouldn’t have [public works/public services]”.

“If [personality] was the one in office, we wouldn’t have these problems, or he/she would address these problems better.”

I have heard of these arguments so many times. And I’m getting sick of it.

What makes political loyalism so problematic is that it perpetuates patron-client relations, dynasties and dependency. Because of personalistic ties, unjust practices or decisions are justified, glossed over or forgotten. Dynasties thrive when people elect more members from a certain known family based on the belief that they inherited their accomplished predecessors’ ability to govern and/or ability to provide and whatever legacy they left. Dependency occurs when people believe that once a person or a family is in office, their basic needs are taken care of, as well as their other expenses such as baptisms and funerals. As more constituents become indebted on them, and more people become indebted to them for giving them a job at the municipal office, political figures vie for political office, or assign their family members to run again and again. While some families do get the work done (the Dutertes, albeit in a very different way), many more others don’t.

Political loyalism also perpetuates unmerited hate or criticism towards other parties. For example, if you are a Marcos loyalist, you will never believe in an Aquino’s ability to implement livelihood projects, as Ninoy just talked a lot and Cory was not a good implementer. If you are a Corista, you will never believe that a Marcos has the right to advocate against politics in the Philippine Arts, because their father went against progressive politics.

Political loyalism also exalts normal work responsibilities. Political figures are applauded for building bridges, for lighting barrios and for other things that are naturally in their list of to-dos. It is like giving a standing ovation for an accountant who balanced the figures for a project’s expense, or for a janitor who rendered a public bathroom spotless. I understand the need to recognize political figures who have implemented excellent governance practices in place of systems and procedures that don’t work anymore, but not to the point of deifying them.

Lastly, political loyalism disallows for the democratization of public governance. Due to loyalism, people only recognize the legitimacy and ability of a few to govern, and vote for the same people, giving less or no chance to new entrants and new systems. Loyalism is also made as basis for a person’s appointment into an executive agency rather than merit.

Many people, even highly educated ones have the tendency to be loyalists to a political figure or family. And so even if many of them want systemic change, it would be hard to have that given that they contribute to the stagnation of the system.

In order for systemic change to occur, people must learn to let go of even the finest and weakest strands of loyalism they have for whomever in assessing political challenges and work as a person, or as a part of a community to make change.  Not one person nor family nor party can make the Philippines a better place.  All of us should act hand-in-hand.

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