“It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my faith,
I am the captain of my soul.”
– From Invictus by William Ernest Henley
In an ideal situation in a democracy when elections are over, the various forces, especially the incoming administration, should put aside partisan politics and focus on the task of building the country. But most democracies in the world today are far from being ideal and the Philippines is no exception.
But the coming administration is so different from past administrations. It promises revolutionary changes in its approach to national governance. Considering the overwhelming support it merited from the voters, the incoming President should be pinned down to his campaign promises because it is these promises that catapulted him to power. And the people pin so much hope in their fulfillment.
The promises with specific and certain terms are the following:
First, to eradicate criminality and graft and corruption in six months from assumption of office. This is not an easy task to do considering certain existing realities like the charges that the elected President has unexplained wealth, which he did not report in his SALN. If true, this constitutes graft and corruption, and if the amount exceeds certain limits it may constitute plunder which is a non-bailable offense. One charge is serious that members of his family have extensive bank deposits and numerous real estate properties whose sources and legitimacy have to be explained. Another serious charge is that one of his sons is the king of rice smugglers in Davao City with involvement in illegal drugs; this has to be explained.
Still another serious charge is that some of his advisers have some anti-graft cases, not to speak of their notoriety. Before, the new President starts his drive to eradicate criminality and graft and corruption in six months, he must clear the air first of these charges as he who claims to reform the country must start with clean hands, otherwise he will have a very difficult time implementing the needed reforms.
Second, the moment he gets elected President, he will establish and organize a revolutionary government. This is the core element of his first promise. Without a revolutionary government, he cannot implement his first promise. Why because under the present system there are many insurmountable elements to realize his goals – like the Constitution, specifically the due process and equal protection clause; the judicial system; the Congress of the Philippines; tri-media; other intervening elements like the oligarchs especially those who contributed and supported his campaign.
With a revolutionary government all these are swept away because the government is the law and the leader is the lawgiver. The only limits are God, country, principles and ideals, humanist values and conscience. With these in mind, the new President must give this second promise first priority because without a revolutionary government, the reforms in the first promise cannot be achieved in six months, in six years or a thousand years.
Third, to establish a federal system. This cannot be done without a revolutionary government. Within the present system, you need a constitutional amendment. This takes months, years. To gamble on constitutional amendments within the present system is almost fatal because a constituent assembly or a Constitutional Convention takes time to formulate the desired amendment and it has to have the approval of the people in a plebiscite or referendum. It is a cumbersome and wearying process.
Fourth, to bury President Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. If he retains the present name of the said burial ground, this would be a divisive move. But if the name of the burial ground would be changed to Libingan ng Mga Presidente at Iba Pa, no dispute will arise. The dispute of burying President Marcos in the heroes burial grounds has been very explosive because of the word bayani as there are those who dispute that Marcos is a hero. One man’s hero is another man’s heel. But is there any dispute that Marcos was elected President of the Philippines? Of course not!
I have long advocated that Marcos should have been buried in the disputed grounds a long time ago. More than any other President in terms of achievements, Marcos deserved to be buried in the burial grounds reserved for Presidents.
A unity government with justice
In a post election media interview, President-elect Duterte extended his hand to all his opponents for unity to achieve noble objectives. This is a very honorable and desirable gesture and his opponents should accept this magnanimous gesture. I fully agree that there should be a government of national unity but it should be unity with justice. Without justice, any form of unity is perpetuating the present system and this is despicable.
By way of historical footnote: When President Cory told me that she would offer a hand of reconciliation to the opponents of the new government. I replied that reconciliation without justice is useless. It amounts to injustice and that is not desirable. Well, my advice was not seriously considered and the rest is history.
The best and the brightest
No government in the world can succeed without advisers. These men and women are the driving elements to implement the program of a new administration. In the United States of America some of the best Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt had the help of the best and the brightest of their race. It may not be amiss for Rody Duterte to conscript the best and the brightest. As I have mentioned in these pages when he was just intending to run for President, I said that the man he should consult to produce such a group is former Congressman Jess Dureza. I know him. I think it would be one of his best steps to insure that his administration will not flounder from one error to another like the current administration is to tap Jess Dureza for the job. The country can sleep well with Jess around the new administration.
Lo cortes no quita lo valiente
I get a lot of ribbing on my fearless prediction in my last column. Well, I said in that column, I could be wrong because I am not God. I was partially wrong because I also predicted that LENI ROBREDO would be the next Vice-President and she is. I don’t apologize for my mistakes because at one moment in time, my own assessment is right. But it is never a mistake to say that my prediction was wrong because certain elements did not materialize. As another brilliant Mindanaoan, Vice-President Emmanuel Pelaez, used to tell me, Lo cortes no quita lo valiente—courtesy or civility does not make you any less valiant.
I congratulate President-elect Duterte for getting the nod of our people. The people get the government they deserve, as the saying goes. With an added significance for me because by his election, he realized the slogan when I was Opposition Governor of Misamis Oriental during martial law stating: Today Mindanao, Tomorrow the Philippines. Why? Because the method of my gubernatorial campaign which articulated that my political machinery was the people since I had no single public official or political contributor helping me except the people which he brought to the national level I thought then was not possible in the same manner that he brought the type of Davao City governance to the national level. Both of them were nurtured in the heartland of Mindanao.
Despite my reservations, my prayers go with him and his administration with the hope that he will bring better days to our people.