For years the Philippines has been enjoying a status of being a democratic nation. After the Marcos regime, people believed that democracy has come. People became more jubilant and hopeful to the promises of democracy. Flash forward to the present time, where are the results of those promises?
Our people until now, although they are great believers of democracy are not great believers of its tedious process. They only enjoy its fruits without joining the few that is fighting for it. They thought that after that successful People Power Revolution (which was repeated – yr. 2000) democracy has come and will work on its own, and of course with them as the beneficiaries.
Our professor in Public Administration during college told us that sometime in the 90s Mr. Lee Kuan Yew mentioned that we Filipinos should minimize our democracy. Intrigued by the story, I immediately “googled” it after our class, and found out the entire story and concluded in my mind a personal opinion on the matter.
Singapore then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke to a mass of Filipino audience on a dinner mentioning that as a third world country, we Filipinos cannot afford to be a democratic nation. He added further that what our nation needs is more discipline and less democracy. And ironically his listeners applaud. The same people who were at EDSA during 1986 are the same people who are cheering on the idea that we must forget our democracy. Truly our government even back then is full of hypocrite individuals.
Mr. Lee probably forgot that Singapore is not the Philippines. Our cultures are different, what works on their system may not work on us. Mr. Lee probably forgot that we already experienced authoritarian ruling under the Marcoses, and we all know it was not as successful as his authoritarian government in fact, it’s a chaos. Applying it on our present time, imagine an unpopular PGMA ruling a Philippines under an authoritarian government, can you bear it?
In my personal opinion, the great leader Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is WRONG. His prescription belongs to another time and place, which goes not in accordance with the winds of change all-encompassing the face of the globe. It might work, as it appears to have worked until now, in a small country in size and population. But not in my beloved Pilipinas.
Democracy, not authoritarianism is the key to progress here in our nation. We also have a duty to assure our fellow citizens that we have not erred in choosing a democratic Constitution.
Why then our democracy is not working?
Our only error, which is prevailing in the government, the media, businesses, in the academe and in the marketplace, is that we tend to believe we already have the entirety of the democracy we believe in when all we have is its distorted version. We tend to run the Philippine government through the newspapers and decide what is good to the population on the basis of shocking news headlines and less than informed media, commentaries and educated predicaments.
We Filipinos value entertainment more than education. Our most popular role models are not the ones who are productive workers but those who are only a product of pinoy playful imagination.
Our error is that we elect men and women to high office expecting them to change the status quo when in fact they cannot even change themselves. We often hear them talk about their priority project for progress or their new movement to recover the moral tradition without them first accepting the teachings of morality and getting rid of their immoral attachments.
We Filipinos from every walk of life must realize that the system will not work by itself. We must make the system work. We already have the tool to progress, what we must now do is to learn how to use the tool. As of now, what we can do is to practice our democratic ideals, teach our democratic ideals to our Children and tell them not to commit the mistake our elders did in the past (and continuously doing). And pray to the Almighty to grant our people the wisdom. Yes, it is still a long way to go, but it is the only way.
Even as I speak out my mind here, some individuals may already lose their hope on democracy since they idolize the revered foreigner Mr. Lee and drawing up plans on how to impose the Mr. Lee system here in our nation.
Some may even disagree with my opinion regarding the Marcos regime and the PGMA presidency. They may never understand me, yet in the spirit of democracy I respect differing opinions.
Mabuhay tayong lahat!
APRIL 5, 2009, MANILA
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.