Monday, July 20, 2009

New Society, part II: What's wrong with a transition government?


Manolo Quezon III had a very interesting take on concepts and ideas being entertained by certain groups to solve a problem like Gloria. His column today talks about talks between Arroyo's intel chief, Bert Gonzales and Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Sources from the opposition, whom Manolo did not mention, say that Puno and BertGon are in the "thick of things", talking about the possibility of a transition government, austensibly along the lines of Macoy's New Society. And since these men are either beneficiaries or victims of that New Society, there is now, what Manolo believes to be common ground among them.

Actually, the idea of a council-type of government has been there since 1989. During the Cory administration, a group of idealistic military officers, along with several civilians, formed this concept to address the main issue that hinders the full democratization of governance---the issue of power.

Power, under the present Constitution, is lodged solely in the Executive. Yes, there is what we call "balancing acts" or three branches of government enjoying "equal powers"; but in reality, most of the power is being exercised by the Executive.

The problem with a very powerful Executive is in only applies to unitary governments established in one contiguous area. Power is exercised only thru effective implementation. If you have several major islands and your communication infrastructure is still underdeveloped, you definitely have a problem of fully implementing good policies. Or if your infrastructure is at best, only responsive to certain areas of your territory and the rest is left to the discretion of local executives who do not know any better, then, obviously, governance fails each and every time.

Hence, devolution is the answer. Yet, if the power of the purse still resides on the Executive, then, expect that nothing will ever change because local governments function only when financially equipped. Giving local governments the power of the purse and being responsible for the overall administration of their territories require charter change. And since major economic and political powers here disdain that idea because that would obviously affect the status quo, no substantial change would ever occur. In such a situation, drastic measures ought to be implemented as soon as possible before the entire system collapses due to its inability to give adequate social services.

The best way to save the system from total collapse is entertain the idea of a surgical operation. Seize political power and establish a Council-type of government that would oversee the transition from partially free to full democracy is the best solution. Now, democrats would probably say, that's un-democratic. Probably, even America would issue a public condemnation.

But, if you look closely, there was a point in American history that they resorted to such similar measures. When a country faces the total deterioration of its governmental and political institutions, drastic measures ought to be done immediately either on the short or long-term. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with the concept of New Society. In Marcos time, the problem was Macoy used that only as a propaganda platform. He needed to justify his militarist action and mouthing terms as "pagbabago" or "Bagong Lipunan" gave him political legitimacy.

In our case, pushing for a New Society is the order of the day. Change is a necessity. Now, some people say, why entrust to a few people the fate of our country? I ask them---why entrust it to those now in power when we already know that they're big-time thieves and liars? We've always been under the strong spell of a few elites. And even with another election, that political reality would never, ever, change. For us to really change the present power structure, we need an event that would justify a change in that structure. We need new elites that would serve the people first before anything else.

I think a sizeable number of the populace would agree on a transition government provided that no other member of the Arroyo regime is there. Should this indeed happen, let the major players do it properly. They must not cut corners. For as long as they:

1. Jail Mrs. Arroyo and her husband---there must never be a compromise on this. Mrs. Arroyo has to go.
2. Imprison others who stole billions from the public coffers. Arrest Joc-Joc Bolante and the rest of these big-time operators.
3. Allow members of people's organizations, academe and civil society to take part in national policy-making
4. Enforce the laws.
5. Make peace with revolutionary groups.

...then I see no point of strongly fighting these people. In fact, they need our support. Now, should they fool us, then, they all know what happens to governments that fool the people--they are shot on sight.