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Counterfeit Democracy


The Philippine Political System is generally run by all kinds of elites.  The dominant ones, however, are obviously those who possess huge amounts of economic resources and colonially acquired social status and racial superiority.  They still behave as if their ruling forefathers are still in control of the society which had been for centuries their slaves, laborers, and servants. When in public offices, they still behave like Kings and Queens who issue orders and decrees unilaterally and arbitrarily. They are the leftovers of the heirs and heiresses of kingdoms, empires, villas, and haciendas who fanatically cling to the ancient traditions of power and leadership bequeathal and ownership.

Yes, for more than half a century, the Philippines has been operating as a democracy; a form of government that is supposed to be exactly the opposite of dictatorship, dynasty and monarchy; a form of  power structure whose sovereignty emanates from the people;  an ideology whose processes require pluralism, collegiality, consultation, participation, involvement in the decision-making functions and affairs of government; a system of public administration  where a strong opposition  is vital  in preserving  and maintaining the “checks and balances” among the three equal  branches of authority; a political structure where the  exercise of Press Freedom  and other constitutional rights of the citizens are fully guaranteed and respected; and a  system of public service where the  people’s welfare and interest are given primordial attention and priority.

Do we have this kind of public dispensation at present? Are the citizens or inhabitants treated as the fundamental source of public authority and power? Are the different ethno-linguistic groups treated fairly or justly?  Are the ordinary people on the streets consulted and involved in the formulation and planning of public works where millions and millions of taxes are allotted or programmed for capital outlays? Are the people in the rural communities being given the opportunities, privileges, services, and amenities that their brothers and sisters enjoy in the urban centers?  Are our beautiful and unique ethnic customs and traditions being promoted, preserved, and given as much administrative, legislative, and fiscal support as the colonial cultural influences?

How we wish the answers to all the questions are in the affirmative. On the contrary, we generally have leaders whose priorities revolve around their personal and family interests; who think only of preserving and protecting their political territories; who want the people to keep their mouths, ears, and eyes shut and follow what they want as if they have all the solutions to the problems of society and the exclusivity of talents and best ideas; who only become pretentiously concern of public welfare and interest during election campaigns;  and who become extraordinarily generous, loving, caring, and concerned about  the plight of the rural folks  only because of their ballots which are sold as cheaply as the price of the coconut wine in a sari-sari store.

By and large, we are still a counterfeit democracy. To a large extent, liberalism is only a theoretical fantasy.

By Clem M. Bascar

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