Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Philippines and Evolving paradigms
The Philippines role model on democratic practices, the United States, has a poisoned political discourse. It is said that the partisan divide is so unbridgeable that you cannot pass legislation on the scale of the Civil Rights Act in the context of the present Capitol Hill. The tone of the debate has been nasty, cold and brutal.
There is a real danger that our post-election mind-set would be exactly like this. The lingering or spillover passions would be so intense that the next president would not get the courtesy “honeymoon period” of, more or less, 100 days.
The practical solution to avoid a crippled start for the next president must be found, said presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro. Whoever wins the election should listen to his proposed solution—to prevent the passion of politics from paralyzing the next president from Day One.
Teodoro proposes a multi-partisan cooperation on a few reforms areas that would be held sacrosanct and declared as beyond politics. These are educational reforms, health care reforms, seeking the peace and modernizing our not-too-world-class infrastructure among others. These urgent and life-and-death issues should be placed in a non-partisan ground called “ zone of peace.” All political leaders, regardless of persuasion, party and stripe, should make a commitment to work hard to reform these areas.
We can argue passionately about the less important concerns below the “zone of peace.” But the urgent task of reforming the urgent policy concerns should be spared from the usual bitterness of Philippine politics, said Teodoro.
Teodoro’s next step should be drafting such covenant and forcing all candidates to sign it. The first 100 days of the next president should be the most important of his, or her six-year term. A dramatic start focused on the urgent reform issues would enable the next president to finish with a Shakespearean
bang—and not with a whimper.
There is no time to waste. More, the next president should hit the ground running after the swearing in.
While Noynoy Aquino stirs the deepest of emotions from his followers and supporters (they will follow him anywhere), his cousin Teodoro challenges the mind. He has summed up his challenge in two words, which is, “evolving paradigms.” He takes on the toughest of social and economic problems and—in understandable terms—proposes what should be done—all doables and within the funding capacity of the state. Localized peace process, the sustainability of farming as a profession, avoiding the traps of a one-dimensional agrarian reform program, the roadmap to universal health care, attaining educational reforms from an entirely new perspective.
There should be 21st century ideas for the new century and the new world, he argues. Underpinned in this is the recognition that the old ways, the orthodox solution, will no longer work.
You may vote or you may not vote for Teodoro but you have to listen to what he says. We really have to evolve paradigms and shift governance into a 21st century mode to make the next president succeed.
The educational standards should live up to the demands of a Knowledge Society. The lack of uniformity in farming economics has to be bridged. The inter-faith prayer sessions and community-level discussions can do more for the peace process than diktat from the national government and foreign mediators—no matter how well meaning.
The strategy for attracting infrastructure investments should be reviewed and amended. There should be fresh components to an economic program geared at meeting an eight percent growth rate. The only issue that he cannot seem to translate into really understandable terms is the strategy to end the armed insurgencies. In that area, he is using a jargon that is beyond us.
There are scores of well-meaning Filipinos who love their country and who love it deeply that are praying for a contest between the Cousins—Aquino and Teodoro. There is this sense that the country would be well-off with either one, one promising to stamp out the cancer of corruption and a complete break from our sordid present and one devoted to evolving paradigms in governance.
One promises to govern on integrity, drawing from a great legacy. And the other promising to govern from clarity based on well-defined policy prescriptions—the president as a policy wonk.
There is this feeling that either one would be a good choice. And good for the country as well. BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO for The Manila Times