Friday, January 23, 2009

Desperately Seeking an Obama But Missing the Essence of the Message of Obama

By Dinky Juliano-Soliman

Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the USA…it signaled hope and change in America…..January 20, 2001 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in as President of the Philippines riding the on the hopes of a people for a leadership that would practice good governance.

Today, January 20, 2009, Filipinos are searching for an Obama of the Philippines. We are sick and tired of the corruption that confronts us every day, and the cover-ups that this administration pulls off. We complain about the abuse of power that GMA and her cohorts exercise as they slowly slaughter the institutions of democracy in the country. We are frustrated with the opposition because most of them have not demonstrated that they are different from the current administration in their practice of politics.

We are looking for an Obama, a person who will be nothing like the current leadership in Malacanang. We are searching for someone who stands for truth, does not buckle to bribery to become a candidate for the highest authority of the land. We are yearning for a leader who will perform well in his or her mandated function and conduct himself or herself with integrity. There were even suggestions that a certain sports champion can be a legislator or a local chief executive because he unites the country every time he wins.

In our desperation, we are missing the essence of the message of Obama.

It is not one leader; as Obama says ” it is not about me, it is about us”. My interpretation of his message is that we should wring out from the depths of our collective consciousness values that have withstood the test of time – the ability to respond to crisis with calm and the capacity for celebration. In his inaugural speech he called for the return of ” hope and virtue”, these which their founding father, George Washington, called on all citizens to hold on to in order to move forward during a desperate time.

Obama is mindful of the American people’s wishes and aspirations. He acted on the willingness and desire of the people to effect change; he touched on that social energy and the people responded, got involved and made the change. Thus, the repeated message of Obama is - the people made the change and they will remake America.

Therefore, in our case, the people of the Philippines have to demonstrate that we are ready and willing to make change happen; that we know what is right and wrong; we know truth from lies and that we want the return of freedom and democracy. We have to tell each other, show each other, that we are willing to invest to make the change; take risks to correct wrongs and stand up against corrupt politicians. We have to take back politics from the hands of people who betray the public trust and make politics respectable again- a sacred covenant between leaders and constituencies. We the people, cede part of our power to people we elect. Thus, if they do not act on our behalf, we should take back the power we entrusted to them.

When we act in great numbers and insist on truth and justice, transparent and honest governance at the local and national level from those we elect, the Obamas of the Philippines will emerge. There will be leaders who will demonstrate servant leadership; there will be leaders who will facilitate processes that will forge unity; there will be leaders who will be bold and daring to innovate with the people in creating solutions to systemic problems; there will be leaders who will account to the people their governance practice.

This is what Obama was referring to as “the promise of citizenship…” We, the people, must have a frank talk with each other to collectively act and organize a force that will transform our politics and set our democracy right again.

Monday, January 12, 2009


12 January 2009

As the “Alabang Boys” telenovela continues to unravel, we begin to see the flaws within our justice system. This ongoing fracas between two government agencies seems to confirm what most of us fear about the Department of Justice. For as long as you are rich, connected and power drunk, you can shop for the kind of justice you want.

This tip in the scales of justice and the disjoint between PDEA and the DOJ would have escaped finer scrutiny were it not for media attention on the impending release of the so-called “Alabang Boys” and subsequent House hearings. We would never have heard of an appalling act - the counsel for the accused composing a release order on official DOJ letterhead and delivering to the DOJ Secretary for approval.

Worse, the lawyer, who we believe deserves disbarment for his “overzealousness”, had the audacity to say that he just “borrowed the stationary and returned it to the DOJ” (he saw the stationary lying around, he typed up the letter on it, then “returned” it via Sec. Gonzalez) as seen and heard on ANC’s “IMO” last night. Amazing. Even more appalling was Sec. Gonzalez’s tepid reaction to this act of thievery. This only validates our suspicion that this is common practice.

How can we not esteem the men and women of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency when compared to the members of the DOJ? Major Ferdinand Marcelino is fiercely dedicated to his mission – to free this country from the consuming and destructive stranglehold of illegal drugs. Through the House hearings, we learned that he spearheaded the weeding out of bribed members of their task forces. We admire that kind of “tough love”.

The Black and White Movement expresses its unequivocal support for incorruptible people like Major Marcelino and enjoins every decent Filipino to do the same. That is the least we can do for him, General Dionisio Santiago and their associates within PDEA.

We are not surprised that the public has taken the side of PDEA in this issue. In their eyes, and ours, too many of our people have received unequal justice from the DOJ, too many associated with the present and past dispensations have gone on to escape the courts, and no one believes that justice cannot be bought in the Philippines.

Finally, a comment on the ongoing “silent protest” at the DOJ and its prosecutors going on leave - the wearing of red armbands to disprove unequal dispensation of justice doesn’t mean it never happens. A stunt like this is about as believable as GMA linking arms and strolling with her cabinet members to prove her administration is above reproach.

DOJ prosecutors going on leave won’t change the low opinion of many. That’s about as productive as shuffling Romy Neri around different government agencies. As a major part of government, the DOJ should be falling all over itself, investigating alleged bribe takers, expelling and charging them, healing the pathology that thrives within.

But, wait! Can the DOJ investigate itself? Its current silent protest means that the DOJ believes it is infallible. What else can you expect from this administration? -- END