Empowering the Filipino People: INTERNALIZING IMPEACHMENT LESSONS PLUS PATRIOTISM

"Reverence and respect shall at all times be accorded the flag, the anthem, and other national symbols which embody the national ideals and traditions... and inculcate in our people just pride in their native land, fitting affection for the national flag, and proper use of national heraldic symbols."

- "Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and other Heraldic Devices" (RA 8491, 12 February 1998)


IT'S that time of the year - to build up our patriotic spirit - in the run-up to the celebration of Independence Day. In case you forgot, we're now in the period of the "Flag Days" every 28 May to 12 June. The termination of the long-playing impeachment, with our highest officials and citizenry somehow involved in the pros/cons, has mostly cleared the air. Now the nation can go back to the daily basics of income, jobs, food, health, education, housing - and patriotism.

The Impeachment Trial

With a vote of 20-3, the Senate impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona has ended with a judgment of "Guilty" on the charges embodied in a House Resolution.

Because the impeachment gripped the nation's attention and consumed valuable time of leaders, lawmakers, media, and Juan dela Cruz - like it or not, much work remains to be done at all levels.

Priority-wise, it is important to preserve, internalize, and inculcate valuable lessons learned from this unprecedented political experience (that highlighted the partisanship and divisiveness infecting national society) - to make sure that honesty, accountability, and dedication to public duty persist and prevail.

Therefore, it is time, just before Independence Day, to remind ourselves that - as loyal Filipino citizens - God, Country, and People come above all else.

Kindly revisit our Manila Bulletin column (22 January), "Impeachment, China, Spratlys, US, Philippines," which prayed: "The future character of our nation and our people's welfare ride on the impeachment results." Both prosecution and defense, and especially the Senate Court, expressed common hopes that the entire proceedings would be completed with impartiality, and final judgment delivered as expeditiously as possible.

Nation-Building A Generational Process

Clearly, such was also the citizenry's interest in a transforming outcome, considering the impact of the ultimate decision on our grave problems.

Filipinos aspire for a better future under the blessings of God, and a more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable democracy. Every Filipino here and abroad (including the unborn) are all aboard Ship "Pilipinas" with President Benigno Aquino III as Skipper.

Nation-building is a continuous effort. All hands must pull an oar or plug holes so that "Pilipinas" can steadily advance faster, stronger, and higher. Accordingly, all pray that P-Noy proves to be a better skipper than that of the ill-fated Italian ship-cruiser "Costa Concordia" - because Filipinos are still at risk in today's stormy seas.

In the same column, we continued (Part II, 29 January): "Ordinary Filipinos, who pin their hopes on P-Noy's leadership, are immersed in grave problems of poverty, jobs, food, health, education, habitats, impunity, human rights, environmental/man-made disasters, and saber-rattling (by major powers). All these existing timebombs continue to tick while people everywhere still await inclusive, just and mutually beneficial salvation..."

Flag Days: Recalling Our Heroic Past

Our column "Remembering, Internalizing, Revering, Doing" (05 June 2011) recalls: "It is essential to be reminded of the past so that we can gain new insights for a better future."

For many years, FVR has sought to chronicle events deemed worth revering because they form part of our patrimony of patriotism and gallantry and, therefore, merit the focused attention of Filipinos. In today's world, these are what national spirit, people empowerment, teamwork, sustainable development, and economic competitiveness are all about.

In the Asia-Pacific, the Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Malaysians and Indonesians have fought in wars of liberation and homeland defense. Filipinos have similarly struggled in defending their patrimony, freedom, values and the rule of law, and thus have earned a place of admiration in the community of nations.

Our 05 June 2011 column continued: "Independence Day is the only holiday that reflects the common aspirations of past, present and future generations of Filipinos. For those who willingly offered everything to country - even life itself - Independence Day embodies our proud heritage as a people."

On 4 October 1993, FVR established the National Centennial Commission, chaired by then VP Salvador Laurel, to prepare for our Independence Centennial in 1998. This glorious period was also highlighted by commemorations in countries where the Philippines share political links, notably Spain and the US.

Needed Strategic Leadership

It is, indeed, time to remind people about patriotism - in the aftermath of the poisonous atmosphere generated by the impeachment trial. That traumatic process involved all three branches of government, media networks, and concerned citizens in acrimonious argumentation.

That over, and with the onset of Kalayaan (Independence), we must now move vigorously, and address basic programs and needed reforms remaining to be done by Congress and Malacañang. Having passed the crucible of a near-constitutional crisis, the Filipino people now look up to P-Noy to lead the nation to better times and a brighter future. From hereon, it is the strategic leadership of the head of our extended family of almost 100 million souls that truly matters.

What is strategic leadership? In our view, strategic leadership is leadership that prepares people to prevail in uncertain times and develop sustainably up to - not the next few years - but one generation herefrom and beyond.

Strategic leadership entails: first, anticipating what the future may bring, and then, forging plans to insure our country's sustainable development, consistent competitiveness, and enduring peace among ourselves and with the world.

SL has to do with learning what the possibilities are and actualizing our potentials. It is being innovative and audacious - instead of being complacent and resigned to what may come. Strategic leadership is the determination to shape events - rather than to allow ourselves to be shaped by them (even if these are as serious as the EU economic turmoil, US shifts from Iraq-Afghanistan to Asia-Pacific, and saber-rattling by China, Iran or North Korea).

The strategic leader is what eminent historian of American Presidents, James MacGregor Burns, calls "transformational" - as opposed to "transactional" - leadership.

Transactional or Transformational?

Transactional leaders are, by nature, brokers and compromisers. They deal step-by-step with problems as they arise, says Burns.

In contrast, strategic leaders have the capacity to convert latent crises into dramatic resolutions in the nation's life (like the Impeachment Trial).

The strategic leader gives direction to people's aspirations at times of change and decision. First, the SL defines the situation authoritatively for those who follow. Second, he forges a course of collective action. And third, he mobilizes the people to support what he champions.

Transformational leaders typically arise at times of national political, security, or economic crisis.

Caution - or choosing what is "safe" by creeping bit-by-bit upon problems - doesn't equip incumbent leaders to deal with the flexibility and strength with which change is taking place around the world - change catalyzed by science/technology, the internet, capital flows and, especially, the empowerment of people as manifested at EDSA in 1986 and in the "Arab Spring" up to now.

Transformations Filipinos Must Fulfill

One reason "transactional" leaders predominate here is that the skills that get a Filipino politician elected to office are far less than those required for upright and energetic governance.

Right now, our country's problems - of political instability, bad governance, corruption, maladministration of justice, mass poverty, and economic laggardness - scream for bold solutions.

Politically, we need to intensify cleaning up government and national society - to prevent any probability of the State backsliding or failing.

Our country has fallen to the bottom of the World Bank's 10 most corrupt East Asian states. Also, the Philippines now ranks #97 (out of 169) in Human Development, according to 2010 UN Reports - a steady decline since 1996 when we placed in the upper half.

Economically, our basic problem today is slow and highly unequal growth. Our economy still is governed by politics instead of by open markets. Oligarchic influence on state organs enables powerful brokers, families, and dynasties to tilt the rules in their favor - and acquire privileged access to wealth generated by public investments.

We face nutritional and educational disasters. Four out of 10 Filipino children are malnourished. Almost a quarter of them grow up functionally illiterate. And, despite recent educational reforms, myriads of kids are still begging in our streets because their parents are too poor to support them with sufficient food or income.

Token Efforts

YET, ONLY TOKEN EFFORTS HAVE EVER BEEN ATTEMPTED BY MOST LEADERS TOWARDS POLITICAL AND SOCIAL REFORM THAT WOULD THREATEN IN THE SLIGHTEST THE WEALTH OF THE RICH - OR EVEN COMPEL THEM TO PAY THE PROPER TAXES.

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org. Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

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