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8/18/2015

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The paradox of Philippine democracy


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By: Christopher Ryan Maboloc

@inquirerdotnet

02:11 AM August 18th, 2015

WHEN J. Robert Oppenheimer witnessed the huge explosion of the first atom bomb he supervised to build
at Los Alamos, a passage from the Baghavad-Gita flashed in his mind: I have become death, the destroyer

Weakening peso
For life and for always
House arrest for GMA
In defense of politics
Dying for a smoke
LGBTs and me
Proudly Philippine made
Murmuring
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senators

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of worlds.
But structural injustice has a more devastating effect than an atom bomb. Powerlessness, violence and

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marginalization are a social poison which can destroy the future of our children.
In that context, our brand of democracy is a modern-day paradox. While majority of Filipinos are poor, they
are actually led by rich and powerful dynasts. What this means is that poor Filipinos are not ruled by

POPULAR

leaders who can truly represent them. The future of the countrys 26 million poor is in the hands of the old

LOOK: Wha
body looks
17 other co
according t

orderpowerful clans, rich businessmen and influence peddlers. The paradox does not end there. Put
somebody from the lowest margins of society in the political arena and in 10 years he too will become
another insatiable monster.

August18th,2

Poe: Dont w
me, LP

For instance, there is no taxonomy of bad governance


more obvious than the insufferable lives that ordinary

August18th,2

people have to go through each day. While our rulemakers ride expensive cars, the poor struggle each day
to get a decent means of public transportation. A sitting

TIP vice pre


and driver d
heart attac
parked car

Harvard-bred public official even mentioned at one


point that people just have to be patient. So, he is
suggesting that either the ordinary

August17th,2

David files
poll case vs
wants her j

commuter join a mile-long queue, or take a two-hour


The brain: the new frontier

1.4mlikes

bus trip to his destination, or walk under the heat of the


searing midday sun. While we are a country of 100
million, our choices in the forthcoming 2016 presidential

August17th,2

election seem likely to be limited by the expediency of political circumstance to three.

Ex-senator
Aquino is d
Sen. Bam A

Ruby Paredes writes that we emerged from our colonial experience with both a sense of their inadequacy
and a confidence in their capacity to manipulate. This is still true to this day. What the wisdom of old

August17th,2

teaches us is that three things matter to a moral leader: integrity, competence, and a sense of vision. But

Filipino am
killed in Ba
biggest atta

these three can be reduced into one categorypractical wisdom. The problem is that any person who may
have such capacity for prudent judgment is prevented by the same prudence from joining politics.
We need power in order to control power. Power emanates from the act of the human will. In politics, this

August18th,2

means the power of the people controlling the power of the state. In short, the state cannot pursue its

1 Filipino co
dead in Ban
blast

ends at the expense of the people. Institutions exist, as Paul Ricoeur correctly points out, because of the
service they render to people. For this reason, democracy is all about the collective act of will of the people
in pursuit of the common good. However, if those who wield power favor the interest of the few and the

August17th,2

elite, then democratic governance loses its true meaning. In this sense, laws and policies have become
mere shades of the good and the just.

Grace Poes
rises

Some quarters have suggested that we need a strong leader in order to bring back glory to this country. We

August18th,2

can be another Singapore, they say. What does it mean for us? Firstly, it is grounded on the assumption
that Filipinos lack discipline. We do not obey laws. We are ignorant. We are lazy.
We do not follow protocols. For which reason, we need some kind of a benevolent dictator.

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While the suggestion may be justified, its basic problem is that it pins all the blame on the poor, as if a poor
child who toils hard in dangerous places is solely to blame for his misfortune. We are poor because the
majority of our people are not free. To my mind, the idea that dictatorial rule can transform and give
greater freedom to an unfree society defies all forms of logic.

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8/18/2015

TheparadoxofPhilippinedemocracy|InquirerOpinion
Democracy is about two things: substance and procedure. Concretely, the very substance of democracy or
its intrinsic value is about the liberties of people, the equitable distribution of wealth, and the recognition of
people on the basis of their dignity as human beings. Translated into measurable primary social goods, this
means just wages and decent housing. Procedurally, democracy is about fair rules or just procedures which
allow people from the margins to be able to express their desires and not to be dominated or
discriminated by those who are in positions of power and authority, whether in private or in public. For
instance, federalism has a lot of promise, but put in the wrong hands of the same cabals who control,
manipulate and exploit the lives of the poor, it will simply become another experiment gone wrong.
The basic point then is this. True democracy is not about the destiny of any single man. Rather, it is about
ordinary people choosing and creating their own future. Real democratic rule is about implementing a

01:14

Bangkok residents worried abou


after blast

political system whereby ordinary people are permitted to actually choose their leader not because their
good fortunes depend on one man or woman, but because as dignified human beings they so deserve a
life that is worthy of basic respect.
Christopher Ryan Maboloc is assistant professor of philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. He has a masters
degree in applied ethics from Linkoping University in Sweden.
02:50

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TheparadoxofPhilippinedemocracy|InquirerOpinion
1Comment

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Addacomment...

MarianoPatalinnjug
Yonkers,NewYork
18August2015

The worlds foremost scientific m


would like to teach you physics

Isay"Amen"tomostofwhatPhilosophyprofessorChristopherRyanMabolocsaysinthis
Commentaryofhis,"TheParadoxofPhilippinedemocracy,"inTheInquirerofAugust18th.
TheparadoxofPhilippine"democracy"isthatitisnotarealdemocracyatall.Youcallitabogus
"democracy"ora"caricature"ofwhatitissupposedtobewherethepeoplerulethroughthosethey
votetorepresentthemintheexecutiveandlegislativeorgansofGovernment.Butthatisonlythe
THEORY,butnotthereality.
Inarealdemocracy,thosewhoaregivendelegatedpow... SeeMore
LikeReply5hrs

EdwardUmarAlbaMunicipalLocalGovernmentOperationsOfficeratDILG
isimplydon'tbelievetotheapplicabilityofdemocracy...itiscraftedtoperflexanddilute
themindsofthemarginalizedatthebenefitofthefewwhoalsoknownastherulingclass
ofthesociety...takeaglimpseonIslamicformofgovernance...delvedeeper..andfindits
substantivesolutiontotheplightsofthemany..

Spending a bit of time with Cody

LikeReply32mins
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Jointhediscussion
mike8232 2hoursago

toomuchdemocracyispoisonespeciallyforFilipinosespeciallysinceweareanundisciplinedlot
justlookatthetrashthrowninourwaterways
whathappenedtopisoparasapasigbtw?whatawasterright?
wedeservealeaderwhowillenforcethelawoneveryoneandweshouldstartpolicingourselves

Reply Share

Student 3hoursago

Ithinkitismoreaparadoxofleadership:Toleadistoserve.Toleadistogivelight,visionand
directionbutacosttoself,likeacandle.
Politicianprefertoleadbutnotserve,becauseofthepricetoself.Therenootherexamplethan
Jesusleadingbyserving.Heallowedhimselftobeconsumedsacramentallyandexistentiallyon
thecross.Politiciansstillhastogrowthesenseofselfsacrifice.Theyarelackinginnobility.This
inabilitytomakesacrificesresultsinsacrificingthewelfareofthepeopleforthebenefitofself.

Reply Share

Ulipur 8hoursago

DefiningDemocracy
"Whenwesaythatthevoterschoosetheirrepresentative,weareusinga
languagethatisveryinexact.Thetruthisthattherepresentativehashimselfelectedbythe
voters."[Emphasisinoriginal]
GaetanoMoscaiv

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News

InquirerGroup
@inquirerdotnet

.@SayChizattheNPCmeetinghe
pic.twitter.com/76LxE1B7os
#VotePH2016
35m

Ulipur 8hoursago

Takeawayparadoxfromthethinkerandyouhaveaprofessor.

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SorenKierkegaard

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magnosimbulan 11hoursago

Lookattheprofileofourpresidents,theyarenotAyalasorZobelsthathavebeenrichsincethe

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8/18/2015

TheparadoxofPhilippinedemocracy|InquirerOpinion
Spanishtime.Lookattheprofileofmostoftoptenbillionairesofthiscountry,mostareChinese
whodespitetheirhandicapandwhostartedfromnothinghavemadeitinthiscountry.

Crowdynews

Angmgacongressmen,senadoratmgalocalofficialsayhindinamangalingsapamilyangZobelor
Ayala.
Purotayoreklamosabansangito.MaykaibiganakongIraniannationalnaTNTsabansangito,na
patagongtagoatwalangwalanangdumatingsabansangitoayyumamansaisangmanufacturing
businessgamitangkontingdiskartesabuhay.Nakakahiyatayosamgaito.Karamihanoalmost
lahatnamanngmgayumamangintsiksabansangitoaygalingsawalangwala.Bakitkaramihan
saatingmgapinoyaypobre?Mahiligkasitayongmagreklamosasarilinatin.Wakeupmga
kababayan,kontingdiskartesabuhay.
HindikatuladngwriterngarticlenaitonanakapagarallangsaAteneoayreklamonakaagadsa
sistema.Nakungtutuusin,angsistemangitoangnagpayamansakaramihansaatinggalingdinsa
walangwala.

Reply Share

Ramil>magnosimbulan 8hoursago

Iagreewithyouthatmanyofourcompatriotslackasenseofpersonalresponsibilityover
theirsituation.ButIhavetodisagreewithyouaboutMr.Maboloc's"reklamo"kesyo
"nakapagarallangsaAteneo..."Theguyisjustdoinghisjobandweshouldthankhimfor
it.Dahilkahitmaysenseofpersonalresponsibilityka,youcannotgofarwhenthesystem
isnotsupportive.Thisisthereasonwhywehaveveryfewworldclasscompaniesthat
couldhavegivenpeoplemorejobs.
WhatIdisagreeaboutMr.Maboloc'sarticleishissuggestionofSingapore'sLeeKwanYew
asadictator.LeeKwanYewwasneveradictator.Hewasastrongwilledleaderwho
presidedoverabigsandbarcalledSingaporewithnonaturalresourcestospeakof(not
evenwater),populatedwithChinese,Malays,MuslimsandIndianswhoinitiallydonottrust
eachotherandinfacthadraceriotsintheearly60s,withneighborsMalaysiaand
Indonesiaouttodestroythem.LeeKwanYewenforcedtheruleoflawforallandmade
surethegovernmentishonest,treatedallcitizenswithrespectandmadethecountry
attractivetoinvestors.Lookatthemnow.WehavemuchtolearnfromSingapore.Tosay
thatLeeKwanYewwasadictatorispurementallaziness.LookintoSingapore'shistory
anditsproblemsandonewillunderstandwhyLeeKwanYewhastodowhathehadtodo.
Theruleoflawisblindtorace,religion,cultureorsocialstanding.Idon'tneedtoelaborate
much.
Andlookatus.Themostgenerouswaytodescribemostofourleadersisthattheyare
opportunists,lackingcharacter.WeneedaleaderlikeLeeKwanYew.Letushopehe
appearssoon.Andwhenhedoes,letussupporthimalltheway.

Reply Share

BoogieMan>magnosimbulan 8hoursago

ithinkyouaredwellingonindividualsuccess.yes,nothingreallywrongwiththat.Oneof
mydearestfriendusedtobeabaggeratSMbeforehebecameabankmanager.The
simpletruthisyoucanovercomepovertyifyoureallyputyourhearttoit.
Inthatrespect,thearticleactuallyagreeswithyou.somepeoplewithrightmindset,andare
notdictateduponbyourmodernmasterssucceedinlife.Buttheoverarchingmessageof
thisarticleisonhowourleadersandsadlyweasapeopleperpetuatesservitudetotheold
(Cojuancos,Romuldezes,Enriles)andnew(Binays,Cayetanos)aristocracy.
anintellectualdiscussionisneededonceinawhiletoseethebiggerpicturekabayan.hindi
pwedenglagingbarabara.:)
1

Reply Share

tadasolo>magnosimbulan 10hoursago

Thereisabigelementoftruthofwhatyouaresaying.Successisacombinationofhard
workandknowingwhattodoandtheMOTIVATIONtogetitDONE.Itisaverysimpleand
basicformula.MyprobleminreadingalotofMrMabolocarticles.theyarepurelyacademic
innatureanddisregardtherealitiesonwhythingsarenothappeninginthePhilippines.If
youlistentotheNationalandLocalpoliticiansduringtheelectioncampaignandupon
assumptioninofficesthereisamassivedisconnectbetweentheirwordsandactionsand
theproblemsontheground.Agoodexampleandhasbecomeaposterchildoffailed
leadershipisthetrafficandmasstransitsysteminMetroManila.Thereisnocoherent
policytosolvetheproblemandthosepeoplemandatedtofixtheproblemaretryingtosolve
itthemselvesknowingfullwelltheydonothaveanideanorcluenortheexperienceto
directandadministerthesolution.WhatIdonotfundamentallyunderstandisthey
embracedtheproblemandgetalltheblamebutarenotresponsiveandthereisNO
PUBLICOUTCRY(REVOLTtohangthebastards)andhereistheMOSTPUZZLINGthere

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8/18/2015

TheparadoxofPhilippinedemocracy|InquirerOpinion

PUBLICOUTCRY(REVOLTtohangthebastards)andhereistheMOSTPUZZLINGthere
isNOPressurefromthelocalleaderswhoarerepresentingthepeoplewhoaresuffering.
ThisistheFAILUREOFourDEMOCRACYinBASICform.Themediaisneglectingit.In
othercountriesthereisaseverePENALTYforapoliticianfornotlisteningandsolving
problems.InthePhilippinesthepenaltyandmotivationtofixtheproblemsareNON
EXISTENT.ThisiswhatMrMOBOLOCshouldinvestigateinsteadofspendingtimeof
abstractdefinitionsofDemocracy.

Reply Share

Datuitum 11hoursago

Democracyisonlyforthosewhounderstanditsmeaning,knowshowtonurtureandprotectitlike
yourownnewbornchildotherwiseitonlybreedscorruptionandexploitationbypeoplewhopreach
it...

Reply Share

JLFS 12hoursago

Wehaveanexampleoftwocitiesthatprogressedwithcontrastingleadersstyles,Nagaof
RobredoandDavaoofDuterte.Bothstylesbringsprogressbutwhichonewouldoneprefer?

Reply Share

BinayAran 12hoursago

Fundamentally,ademocraticformofgovernmentonlyguaranteespeoplearefreetochooseand
thelawappliestoall.
Butbecausepeoplearenotbornwithequaltalents,ambitionsandtrainedsimilarly,itcannot
guaranteeequitabledistributionofwealthandnonproliferationofafewultrarichattheexpenseof
themanypoor.
Andbecausepeoplearenotsubjectedtothesamelifeexperiencesanddonotenjoysimilar
preferenceforrewardsanddislikeforsacrifices,itcannotguaranteepeoplewillmakethebest
choicesandwisestdecisions.Norchoosetherightleaders.
Democracyisasystem,asocialmodelofhowthingswork.Atitsbest,itmightbeidealizedby
manybutnotnecessarilybeidealforall.Givedemocracytotheunreadyandunprepared,anditis
nodifferentthangivingaropetoafool,longenoughgethimselfinextricablyentangled.
Onecannotaffordtoexpecttoomuchfromdemocracy.Tobuildastronghouse,sometimes,it's
morebecauseofthecarpenterandnotthetoolheused.Agoodcarpentercanmakegoodofbad
toolsandresources.Whileaprofligatecanmanagetoextracttheworsefromthebestsituations.
3

Reply Share

kino 12hoursago

whyblamealltherich?manyofthemaredecentpeoplewhopreparedforthefuturebyworking
hardandaboveboardinbusiness,employment,etc.therearepoorfilipinosbecausenotafewof
themchosetobepoorbybeinglazy

Reply Share

JESUISMINDANAO 14hoursago

well,youmakeitsoundsoeasy.Howaboutthecolonialmindsetthatsustainsthepatronage
politics?
3

Reply Share

vg 14hoursago

Thepeoplehavenopower.Lookathowcandidatesarechosen.Thepoliticalpartiesarejustfronts
fortherichandpowerful.Allthepeopledoischoosewhichrichandpowerfulgroupwillbegiven
morepower.Wejustneedonecandidatetogiveusahonestplatformandtovisiteverycitytotalk
withthepeople.Heorshedoesnothavetoberich,hecanevenwalkmostofthewayandgivehis
speechesintheopenair.Heorshecanbeapeople'sdelegateandnotoweanythingtotherich
andpowerful.Whatachangethatwouldbe.Thepeoplecouldfieldtheirowncandidateandwinthe
Presidency.
1

Reply Share

StunBlack 15hoursago

...Theonlythingthatcanfreeusfrom"democracy"isdemocracy.S.H.Black
2

Reply Share

buninay1 16hoursago

Oneoftherolesofthegovernment,itisoftensaid,istoredistributewealthfromthelapoftherich
totheemptybasketsofthepoor.Butsincedemocracyhasaninherentloopholewhichthosein
powerexploittothehilt,thatroleisbeingsidelinedorpulleddownsomanynotchesfromthetopin
theorderofpriority.Thepowersthatbedeliberatelyforgetthatimperativeandconcentratetheir
attentiononhowtosurvivepoliticallybybuildinguppersonalwealththatcanwellsustainthe

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TheparadoxofPhilippinedemocracy|InquirerOpinion
attentiononhowtosurvivepoliticallybybuildinguppersonalwealththatcanwellsustainthe
exorbitantcostofreelectionandensuretheirmaterialcomfortforsomanygenerations.Onlyduring
electiontimewillthesepowerfulpoliticiansharpontheneedtoupgradethelotofthepoor,
promisingeventhemoontoextricatethemfromtheconstrictinggripofpoverty.
Theloopholeindemocracybeingtheinabilityofthepoortodecidewiselyforthemselvesin
choosingthemosttrustworthycandidateduringelection,thecrookedandnowrichpoliticianscan
easilymanipulatethementalityofthepoorwiththereleaseofeyepoppinggoodiesandfreebies
thatinthefinalanalysisarenothingbutinstitutionalizedbriberyiftakeninthecontextofsystematic
bigtimeschemetostealfromthegovernmentcoffers.Consg
2

Reply Share

farmerpo 19hoursago

Lookatitthisway.Paradoxisjusttruthstandingonitshead.Thepoorsustainstherichinthe
Philippines,thatiswhypoliticaldynastiesareprevalent.Lesspoverty,moreequality...(:no
dynastytoarrogate.Keep'empoor,Sam.
4

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