AFTER a dictatorship, three People Power attempts, a series of failed coups and a mutiny, the Philippines remains in the throes of yet another political crisis, according to University of the Philippines sociology professor and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Randy David.

Prof. Randy DavidDavid was among the first to be arrested without a warrant under the state of emergency declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last February. He is one of Arroyo’s most vocal critics.

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s contested presidency is but a tiny footnote in this still-unfolding narrative of comprehensive societal failure,” remarked David last October 14 in a keynote speech during the opening of Akbayan‘s third national assembly.

Terrorized by the thought of yet another popular movie star becoming president, the middle and educated classes — David uses the two terms interchangeably — rushed to elect a highly educated economist.

However, “we have completely overlooked Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s political biography — her penchant for changing party affiliations whenever it suited her political ambitions, her assiduous courtship of local leaders, her clever use of her father’s surname and political connections, even as she abandoned the party that Diosdado Macapagal once led,” David added.

Aside from this, Arroyo also cleverly projected herself as a Nora Aunor look-alike in campaign posters in order to appeal to the masa, and assumed “an image of Catholic piety and moral conservatism in order to attract the bishops.”

These bishops were among those who affirmed the results of the 2004 presidential elections, which they perceived to be generally fair and honest, according to David.

When the “Hello, Garci” tapes were made public, Arroyo apologized for a “lapse of judgment” on national television. The taped apology took 42 takes to record, said David. First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo went abroad on voluntary exile, but soon returned after the Hyatt 10 resigned from the Cabinet.

Early this year, PCIJ dubbed the President “Survivor of the Year” for weathering the “Hello, Garci” scandal and impeachment proceedings.

“As a survivor in the ruthless world of Philippine politics, she has shed the moral shield and now deals with her enemies only with two choice weapons: coercion and renumeration,” said David.

He believes that the middle classes find the president’s actions to be morally offensive. “But I think, in the long run, this is good, for the resolution of the political crisis, because it forces us to resume the quest for intelligent political action to our problems, and to forgo the instant satisfaction offered by idle moral labeling.”

Impatience has kept the country’s “political system trapped in cycles of instability,” said David. This impatience has led to sustained political disillusionment for many Filipinos. “A series of intense upheavals has consumed the political energies and functions of our people, and raised their expectation to very high levels…only to let them down every time.”

David said that romantic utopianism is a middle-class instinct that has led to extra-contitutional means of changing leaders, such as people power and coup attempts. Although the motives behind these may be pure, he believes that these are eventually counter-productive, as these are not “anchored on the active support and engagement” of the people.

“Could it be that we have been expelling the incumbents in order to prolong the life of a dying system?” David asked near the end of his speech.

When it comes to identifying the kind of political system that will work for us, David himself is uncertain. But he believes that “we have not really given democracy a chance to work in our society.”

Regardless of the political choices that we have made, we cannot ignore the following basic points, he said:

  • We cannot hope to gain anything unless we can first unify our people around a clear vision and engage their energies and enthusiasm in pursuit of these goals.
  • Development has to start from the development of the people, through the provision of the minimum living conditions for sustained personal growth, through quality education, and the meaningful inclusion of our people in various aspects of the national life
  • With regard to the private sector, those who have more in life are called upon to help those who have been excluded and opportunity without waiting to be prompted by the government.
  • Corruption is not the most important of our problems but rather an expression of our most urgent problems: mass poverty and ignorance, patronage politics, expensive elections and an underdeveloped economy.
  • Our private initiatives as citizens are valuable, but the crucial terrain of social change is still the public arena, where policies and programs are decided.
  • There is no shortcut to development.
  • Some of our problems require simple and straightforward solutions, but many are multi-layered and complex. Every initiative rests on certain preconditions.
  • No nation can progress without first instilling national pride and love of country among its people. National pride is to nations what self-respect is to individuals, a precondition for self-improvement. We must arrest our people’s dangerous descent to demoralization, and appeal to those who have made good here and abroad, to help lift the morale, especially of our young people, in these critical times.

7 Responses to Points to ponder during a political crisis


Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Wars are not won by evacuations

October 26th, 2006 at 1:07 pm

[…] In the blogosphere, PCIJ reports Randy David’s articulation of a checklist for Philippine democracy: * We cannot hope to gain anything unless we can first unify our people around a clear vision and engage their energies and enthusiasm in pursuit of these goals. […]



October 28th, 2006 at 5:16 pm

” No nation can progress without first instilling national pride and love for the country among its people”, reiterates Randy.

Randy’s, “…appeal to those who made good here and abroad, to help lift the morale…”, contains heavy trace of helplessness, which is akin to being demoralized and yes, begging.

For one, to lift the nation’s morale, well the people themselves should decide first, whether they want to wallow perpetually in pain and allow horrible things to happen without contesting, OR do a Gudani, or better still a Jarque.

Not to contradict Randy, but my own appeal to organized forces, is to stop ideological sniping. We have seen that in Congress, ideological cousins could genuinely work together in tandem with some progressive members of traditional political parties.

The people, i would like to think, wants to hear and see more that kind of positive undertakings beyond the (stinking) halls of Batasan.



October 28th, 2006 at 6:37 pm

Isa Lorenzo, and the PCIJ;

I would like to call your attention on one simple detail- the manner of labelling political groups, .

In a country, where a mere suspicion of being a member of organized progressive groups, rightly or wrongly, often labelled as left, leftist, or left-leaning; can get a person jailed, maimed, and often killed, could you please be more circumspect on applying the tags?

The post on Bayan Muna, the object in question, carries the tag.

I understand perfectly that post-writers, too, have their own political preferences, and respect that. The thing is, since the PCIJ enjoys a more than usual high level of persona, crooks and murderers may point a finger at your direction, and maliciously claim, ‘why, even the great PCIJ calls them such…’ and the persecution and killings goes.

Unwittingly may become, parcel of the sad stories, a part of it.

May I suggest thus, PCIJ run a guide on Pinoy political map, explaining or start a discussion why a grouping is termed such. It surely would be of great help if blog readers can confidently and intelligently, in the future tag these groups:

1) Akbayan
2) Liberal Party
3) Lakas
4) Partido ng Masang Pilipino
5) Danding’s group
6) Makati Business Club
7) Fed of Phil Chinese…
10) One Voice
11) Black and White Movement
12) Bishops and Businessman Group
14) Magdalo Group-YOU
15) RAM
16) SFP

Am sure there are more groups, which esccapes my mind at present, left unmentioned. All of them has at least want to have a say in how, what form and kind of government we musthave



October 28th, 2006 at 6:41 pm

i mean begin the little debate…



October 31st, 2006 at 1:15 am

The tactics used by GMA in this country has not only weakened our democratic institutions. GMA has not only divided the country. Perhaps the greatest damage she has done is in the psyche of the Filipino people.

The war has become psychological. The public’s tolerance for unconstitutional and outright illegal acts of this government is increasing every time. GMA is banking on the political noise that NGOs and other various groups are making matching this even with disinformation campaign. Moreover, outside groups (who shouldn’t be making comments about local affairs anyway especially if they contribute to the disinformation campaign) keep the public looking the other way. Statements about how good the economy is doing are not helping at all, especially if this distorts the moral framework by which we as a people should judge our government.

Corruption and bad governance remain corruption and bad governance even if the economy is doing well. It is a distortion of values to say that if the economy is doing well, we can look the other way and remain blind about the destruction of our democracy.

The damage on the psyche of the Filipino people is very alarming. People power and people’s claim to governance are no longer availed. People’s rights are abandoned. What will become of this country?



October 31st, 2006 at 10:53 pm

precisely, toix_ poray. methinks one of the main reason why the country is down the drain, is the middle class penchant to equate progress with voodoo statistics on economic growth, investments, etc. and consequently allow (if not outright play an active part) people’s democratic rights trampled in exchange.

voluminous serious studies however, including that of Nobel laureates, shows that real development which means progress can only be achieved and more importantly sustained,if people are allowed participation beyond elections on issues that directly affects them.

Pinoy middle class has shown, time and again, unwillingness to expand its vision, limiting view points to serve selfish and parochial interests.

in my little travels, i have never seen a middle class grouping – such as our Pinoys, that snorts on ideas sponsored by ordinary folks. ideas by the latter is always reduced in ideologically divisive terms.

we alarmingly wail the people’s apathy, yet when they want to part in decision making processes; balked at and call them names: commie,leftist, socialist, rightist without bothering to sit and probe the soundness of their ideas. and worse, subverts their will in elections!

now, we blame them when they say: ‘pare-pareho lang kayo!’ ?

Pinoy middle class generally are unbothered by the killings, as long as they enjoy (can’t fathom how they still could) their social status accorded by society, failing to recognize that this will not last long if majority of the population subsists on less than a dollar per day. besides, killings hardens the position of an aggrieved party and renders any idea of achieving consensus nearing impossibility.

and so we remain, a nation divided and dirt poor.



October 31st, 2006 at 11:00 pm

(should have read) “…want to TAKE part in decision making processes…”

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