Edsa Revolutions: Wasted Opportunities

Monday, June 26, 2006

CBCP: On the Wrong Track?

We’ve been stuck for so long with this culture thing as the generic problem of Philippine society. Culture is the behavior of society and is inseparable like space-time, body-soul and structure and process. Government is one human environment that is part of the whole structure. The behavior of government is the problem that attracts an equivalent behavior from the people. It is not the other way round as identified by the CBCP.

Anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor in 1871 defined culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Many other definitions of culture have been offered, but by and large all refer to shared systems of values and behaviour.Encarta Encyclopedia

Behavior is a property that needs a viable structure. Society, community and family are the physical structures; and culture, custom and habit are their respective properties. Man or the individual is the structure and has a personality. Rick Warren in his book “The Purpose Driven Life” says that the personality of a man is the sum total of his little habits, while Confucius said that “men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart.”

Government behavior is the result of government structure and has a great influence on the behavior of the people and the culture of society as a whole, beside the influence of the natural environment. Clannishness is not an exclusive Filipino trait and self-interest was installed by nature in every individual for survival. All politicians have personal interest as a nature. All these personal interest, when bonded in a government structure should transform into the general interest for the good of the whole society, like the poisonous properties of sodium and chlorine that produce salt beneficial to life.

Corruption and cheating have been government qualities enclosed in lies since Gomburza, as observed by the late Senator Raul Roco. These traits that have survived for so long could only be the result of an inappropriate government structure. Self-interest and clannishness belongs to the individual and community respectively and are situated at one side of the cultural structure, while corruption belongs to government at the other side of the equation.

The seed of solution is with the problem. To identify self-interest and clannishness as the problem would invite solution in that side of the structure like changing the values, instilling ethics to every individual and the institutional approach of “Schools and universities to have stronger honor codes and make a new commitment to teaching integrity and building character.” The need to create a new social contract… that fosters a sense of trust and fairness”. These are suggested solutions by David Callahan in his book “The Cheating Culture” which were labeled “weak” by critics. The problem is at the other side of the cultural structure which is government behavior.

The structure of government has to be reengineered to change its behavior. The parliamentary system proposed by advocates of charter change is insufficient to destroy the “winner-take-all” system. Political parties will still be situated at the national level and will support local candidates to assure them majority at the parliament and monopolize the administrative function of government. The massive vote-buying and cheating from the presidential form will just mutate to a more virulent strain in the parliamentary system because they are cumulative. Coup d etat is not alien to the parliamentary form of government and is nature’s process towards a viable power sharing.

Power sharing of the administrative function of government by the majority and minority parties as earlier suggested will effectively destroy the winner-take-all system that breeds the cheating culture. This will make Philippine government operate towards the good and eventually address poverty.

4 Comments:

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous benign0 said...

Mr Ernesto, I concur with Atonio Banderitas. My site GetRealPhilippines.com is going on its 6th year anniversary in August and yet shallow political discussion prevails in the Pinoy blogosphere (with a few -- very few -- exceptions).

Discussions that slip below the political radar into the REAL issues will invite nothing more than name calling. Even the most be-credentialled and scholarly Pinoys degenerate into boorish behaviour once we get to topics that go to the very fabric of our character as a people.

Check out an exchange with the eminent Patricio Abinales I had on the PCIJ blog.

I've also managed to get under the skin of no less than Alecks Pabico of the PCIJ (I am currently banned from posting in the PCIJ blog) here.

But it's great to see writers like you. There are a few more but very little. Another you might want to check out is Big Mango.

Note how little comments there are. This is typical of blogs that focus on discussions at this level. Apparently, Pinoys are more into political intrigue rather than into exchanging ideas.

But there is hope. No less than the esteemed consultant Clarence Henderson managed to take stock of what he himself called "the underbelly of the Pinoy psyche" after he was hammered by an experience in a the pinoy on-line forum PinoyExchange.com where a lot of worng-argument-loving Pinoys hang out. He wrote a brilliant two part article on the experience that encapsulates the general experience of people who beg to differ to this narrow politically-coloured regard towards the issues that face Pinoy society. Check out his brilliant insight here.

Bong Austero (now a Manila Standard columnist) has also expressed exasperation with the shallowness of the so-called Philippine Intelligentsia, particularly in this post.

Hope to continue seeing you around, and just remember that we may not exactly agree with one another's views, but we share a common interest in probing underneath the more popular threads of discussion that dominate Pinoy debate today. ;)

 
At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Ernesto Posadas Jr. said...

Dear BenignO, I’ve been following your comments at One Voice and was tempted to post my own comment on one of the articles there with the concern that this group is traveling the wrong path towards a profound solution of the ills of Philippine society. The five proposals of One Voice essentially belong to the category of public policy, which is the action or inaction of government towards a perceive problem. Public policy is behavior of government – and behavior is caused by the structure of government.

The warning that people will be deprived of the right to vote for the highest leader of the land in a parliamentary system concern me so much because One Voice could not backtrack from this position and will be forced to maintain the presidential structure that fits the administration and opposition in an adversarial situation. This is like a dysfunctional family producing citizens devoid of patriotism.

The Structure Theory that posits everything in the universe is structured or related titillates my imagination together with the dictum of P. W. Atkins that says about the “richness … of the ways simplicity can masquerade as complexity”. These are my guides in looking at seemingly insurmountable situation or problems. It has become second nature to ask, “Where in the structure is this thing or problem situated?”

Thank you for the effort in posting your comment. It keeps me going when hopelessness sets in. Having followed your comments at One Voice, I was terrified to see your name at my blogsite. It evoke a sudden smile in my face; the kind with apprehension. You’re such a blogger I can’t catch-up with.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger Dupa Jasia said...

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