Sunday, April 02, 2006

The “Ignorance of the Masses” and Democracy

Reading through the commentary sections of the newspapers and scrolling through my favorite Philippine blogs, I detect little support for constitutional change as promoted by the president and her political allies.

Apart from serious legal reservations, the rejection of cha-cha (as this project has disrespectfully been labeled from the outset) is motivated politically. Not a few see it, and I quote from Randy David’s column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer as “Ms Arroyo’s last card in her bid to survive till 2010 and avoid prosecution and imprisonment at the end of her term.”

In my last post, I discussed what I term “conservative people power.” Irrespective of the legal issue (and one can only hope that a legal solution accepted by all sides may be found soon), there remains the fundamental political dimension. From a democratic and liberal vantage point, it is not easy to simply discard a campaign that produces millions of individual signatures.

The successful mobilization opines Prof. David “rests on nothing more than the notorious ability of her (GMA’s) political operators to produce outcomes by preying upon the poverty, the indifference and the ignorance of the masses.

Political indifference and ignorance are poisonous for democracy. As long as they persist, democratic rule will not be consolidated. The solution, however, is not to further disenfranchise the masses as is often suggested by messianic leaders who profess to speak on behalf of the masses and to know better what they want than the masses themselves. This is the recipe of communists, fascists and other totalitarian ideologues.

The liberal answer to indifferent and ignorant masses is education. Yes, this is a long term approach. But history teaches that there is no short cut to consolidate democracy.

tags charter change


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8 Comments:

Blogger POLITICAL_ABROGATIONERS said...

I believe democracy is something that is natural, universal and moral for humanity. That means democracy is for all the human beings of this world. Democracy is making a management system or political rule become in accordance with the natural, universal and moral laws and principles. Hence, every country, every social organization and every culture in this world should gain real and moral democracy through peaceful and legal means. Our cause is called "political abrogationism". It is a cause that advocates the peaceful and legal abolition of all types of dictatorships, monarchial reigns and despotic regimes all over this world. The readers of this message can know more about political abrogationism by simply clicking our blog: THE POLITICAL ABROGATIONERS' PAGE. Support political abrogationism now! Thanks.

12:05 PM  
Blogger meinardus said...

thus far, i was not aware of political "abrogationism." the word itself is quite a mouth full. on the other hand, your concept is similar to liberalism. why not join the liberal camp? true democrats are always welcome...

12:05 AM  
Blogger RUMMEL PINERA said...

Mrs. Arroyo should voluntarily step down now as "illegal president" because April is the month of Holy Week. I'm urging Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Jhun Labo to ask all the Christian archbishops of the Philippines (it includes the Catholic archbishops) to proceed to the Malacañang Palace and peacefully and legally urge Mrs. Arroyo to step down from her illegal presidency. The Philippines doesn't have a "ceremonial monarch" who can persuade a "despotic leader" in the government to step down voluntarily. But our religious elders_ the multi-denominational Christian archbishops can collectively urge Mrs. Arroyo to step down from her illegal presidency. Such Christian archbishops should do such action in the coming Holy Week. If Mrs. Arroyo will obey such appeal, the CBCP can appoint Mrs. Arroyo as amabassador of goodwill to the Vatican, that is if Mrs. Arroyo decides to step down voluntarily this month of April.

Political abrogationers are for real, global and moral democracy. I'm a liberal person. But the advocacy of political abrogationism should be championed by both conservatives and liberals. Political abrogationers want to achieve real, global and moral democracy for this world through peaceful and legal means. Thanks.

8:40 AM  
Blogger meinardus said...

... thanks for the comment. i am just trying to imagine mrs. arroyo as "ambassador of good will" to the vatican. from your commentary, i gather that you don't propagate the liberal principle of separation of church and state.

1:17 PM  
Blogger rios del prado said...

If our honorable Congressmen really want changes in the present Constitution, they can do it in the most prudent way.

The US Constitution has been amended 27 times since its ratification in 1788 but this was not rewritten even once for the past 218 years. Said amendments cover diverse subjects such as political rights, judicial reform, economic reform, and the interpretation of the Constitution itself.

The US Congress simply introduced amendments through Joint Resolutions. In fact, there are several proposed amendments to the US Constitution filed during the present Congress by Congressmen and Senators all in the form of Joint Resolutions.

Like for example in the 106th Congress of the United States and in the past congresses, there were several proposals to repeal the 22nd Article of Amendment to the Constitution “to remove the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.” However, many members of US Congress were hesitant to push it or even talk about it since this was not a popular issue then and up to now. That is why the US Constitution was only amended 27 times and its last amendment (Amendment XXVII) was occurred in 1992. In short, it was not revisited even once in the last 14 years.

Ours was rewritten three times (1935, 1973, and 1987) already since the short-lived Philippine Republic (1898-1899) under the Malolos Constitution. Several amendments were also introduced in 1937 (the women’s rights), 1940 (extending the term of President and Vice President from six to four years with reelection), 1946 (the parity rights) and some other amendments during the Marcos era.

I would like to cite some of the 27 amendments to the US Constitution to show to the Filipino people how the US Congress did in amending their Constitution in the past.

Amendment 26 (1971). The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Amendment 19 (1920). The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Amendment 16 (1913). The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Amendment 15 (1870). The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Most of the amendments to the US Constitution are written in very few (mostly two) paragraphs. The US Congress is doing this for ages and I do not understand why the Philippine Congress didn’t do the same thing consistently for the past several years after the ratification of the 1935 Philippine Constitution or after the semi-independent commonwealth government was inaugurated. If only the members of the past congresses adopted this process, there could have been an ideal Constitution for us Filipinos in our midst now. We could have enjoyed continued stability, peace, and progress. We could have been among the world’s largest economies now.

Revising or rewriting the Constitution simply promotes a vicious cycle of trying to tinker again the Constitution to suit the agenda of every sitting President. Good if the new President is REALLY THE ONE who is sincere of taking care of the country and its people. At the rate the magnanimity of corruption going on in the government and private sectors, it is impossible to have one as he could be ruined or even assassinated as soon as he or she steps on the toes of the entrenched interest groups molded through the years by the government itself and its flawed system.

It’s not too late, we can still simplify and prudently change our Constitution but the problem is Malacañang and its underlings are really bent on changing the present Constitution via wholesale--and we all know why. Our people will be subjected to answer so many questions on their proposed amendments, which are answerable to yes or no only. Even if you disliked the other half and agreed with the other, you don’t have any choice but to answer yes or no period.

After that, the vicious cycle starts and we will be going nowhere. If that is the case, then we could only watch our Asian neighbors and the rest of the world advancing and moving forward through progress while the Philippines is continuously treading the path to backwardness.

4:29 PM  
Blogger meinardus said...

...don't be surprised if con - ass (what a name) and people's initiative fail. one exit plan is a constitutional convention, i hear from good sources. is that to the liking of the opposition?

10:55 PM  
Blogger RUMMEL PINERA said...

I'm for the liberal principle of "separation of church and state". Such is one of the fundamental principles of a stable and working democracy. But Philippine democracy today is under a "bogus presidency" supported by outrightly fascist groups. There is political repression in the Philippines today. You can see how the PNP cops perform cruel methods to disperse huge but peaceful rallies. The "bogus presidency" in this country has been using illegal methods to curtail democracy. Mrs. Arroyo has to be morally persuaded to resign from the presidency by the highly-respected people in our society. The Christian archbishops of the Philippines, who represent all the Christian denominations in our country, are among the highly-respected people in our society. I believe that such archbishops should at least make such an attempt at a certain day to collectively and morally convince Mrs. Arroyo to resign from the presidency, or voluntarily submit herself to an impeachment process. Such archbishops can do such action inside Malacañang Palace without violating the principle of the separation of church and state. I hope that the business leaders of our country can also do such persuasive action inside the Malacañang Palace. Such persuasive actions are peaceful and legal. Thanks.

4:24 PM  
Blogger meinardus said...

... thanks for you comments, i enjoy reading them. however, i am not that sure whether persuasive efforts with a moral backing would suffice. in the end of the day, democracy should be about (political) institutions. in my liberal view, the church does not belong to these.

11:43 AM  

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