Why we can’t expect salvation in 2010
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-01-13
If you still nurture foolish optimism about attaining positive change in 2010, you’re in for the big jolt.

Emerging front runners for the 2010 presidential race are already displaying signs that they will be delivering only more of the same. This means that there will be an extended opportunity for mass manipulation — something that actually traces back to 1521.

Solving our problem requires more than electing a president who is neither a liar nor a thief. Our problem sprung from a convoluted political system that had been shaped by the economic elite and, naturally, also caters to their interests.

To find solutions, we must first know the real problem.

Our nation has cancer, the vicious kind. Only people who have been reconciled by their doctor with the truth about their problem can be treated and cured of their ailment. In our case, we were never really told what causes our socio-economic problems. No one wants to acknowledge the fact that we have this social and political cancer as the very cause of our debilitation.

But even if someone did level with us about the nation’s real ailment, the truth alone will not provide a cure — although it is a good start.

A 2010 president who will steal less than the previous plunderers will merely ease the taxpayers’ burden but can’t really remove the cause of the disease. Only the removal of the age-old mindsets and practices which has disabled the mechanisms of a functional democracy will set us on the road to progress.

The Filipino in 2010 is like a traveler so badly behind schedule that he will need nothing less than a supersonic vehicle to enable him to catch up. By comparison, those front runners who present themselves as our 2010 presidential wannabes are, at best, riding on antiquated engines and are all headed towards the wrong direction.

No front runner is even discussing values. All we hear day in and day out are the usual promotional spiel that traditional politicians employ — the same shell game where we, the voters, always end up the big losers.

How come nobody among the leading presidential wannabes is even talking about the real roots of our problems and how they will address these?

We as a people will never really attain nationhood unless we come to grips with our real history. We must discard the stories of our nation that were written and directed by people who serve the interests of the economic and political elite. Instead, we must dig deep to find our national self. Only then can we understand why we have lagged behind our neighbors who all share a common advantage — their strong sense of national self.

It is quite logical that our traditional politicians will not want to go through this national self-realization exercise. It is against their interest to enlighten people and release them from the very ignorance that forces them to submit and comply with the lopsided economic and social infrastructures.

How come nobody is talking about the Wealth Gap and the Opportunity, Education and Information Gaps that fuel it?

We are being sidetracked towards cosmetic solutions like population control as the means to eradicate poverty. Bringing down the population to 42 million, the level 30 years ago, will be useless for as long as 3% continues to control over 85% of the national wealth and, of course, national policies.

Who has dared enlighten the citizenry about this 3% that corners over 85% of the national wealth? Who is willing to go against the 3% elite, the oligarchy, and change the lopsided Philippine economic equation?

Even if we succeed in electing the most honest person as president in 2010, even if a miracle happens and the next administration is able to eradicate graft and corruption, we will still find ourselves in the same economic mess. Imbalances can only be addressed by empowering the poor while at the same time dismantling the mechanisms that promote their poverty and enrich the few.

Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga (GK) and those promoters of the Focolare Movement’s Economy of Communion (EoC) are the ones who offer real solutions to our age old problems. So how come none of these so-called leading presidential wannabes are even proposing similar measures?

GK and the Focolare EoC offer solutions that effectively deliver the underprivileged class from their never-ending cycle of poverty. More than just providing homes and basic social services, they restore the dignity of the human person that grinding poverty easily erodes. A new person evolves — enlightened, motivated and fully empowered to make our democracy work.

Is it because our traditional politicians don’t know the real solutions or is it because they are not bent on really solving the problem? Either way, they offer no hope that we will attain meaningful reform under their leadership.

It is not too late for the people of this country to get together and seek the right leader who can bring us to the Promised Land. In the end, it is really only us who can set things right and not the very politicians who represent the vested interests of the oligarchs.

It is the middle class and the youth who should spearhead this effort. Even the revolutions that pushed for a better deal for the underprivileged of society — like the Russian and Chinese Socialist Revolutions — were led by the middle class.

The sorry state of Philippine society is a failure of the middle class. It is the middle class that’s the repository of values and the instigator of reform of a society.

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