What is good for our country?

For the disclaimer first, the following is a layman’s view of some of the things thought out to be best for the country via such oft-repeated vehicles of ‘vision of good society’, ‘good governance’, even ‘Ideal Society’ [Skinner] if you may. It will dwell only on the more important aspects of universal experience as they happen in our daily lives – confront us at gut level, push us to the wall, and crimp our brains on how to make both ends meet. By no means are they a complete exhaustion of what ails where it does, what negatively impacts on whose lot, or which gaps must be filled or bridged. In short, the list continues. Transport studies say that the straight road is a no-no, a road must have twists and turns. Figuratively enough, the political roadmap into the future must navigate or even negotiate for a rationale cycle of ‘bargaining and compromise’ without having to sacrifice the greatest good of the greatest number. So here we go:

Presidential Palace of the Philippines
Presidential Palace of the Philippines

First, the matter of the West Philippine Sea is an issue far within our easy grasp. So offhand, we leave it to the wisdom of a global institutional order to arrive at its verdict. If that UN body accounts for our best interests in mind, then well and good but hopefully however it decides shall be meant to put the controversy which long placed us in a drag to a close – and with its prescription, the government takes heed or must yield. There is such a thing as ‘collaborative governance’ in a whole constellation of actors, variables, and interests even. ‘Soft power’ is vogue, maybe even king.

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Second, the truckloads upon truckloads of possibly toxic trash that pass by our gates – 50 containers to a 100 more – from a foreign country. It is of uncharacteristic kind of cargo being imported that is probably not found in the rules of the Bureau of Customs itself. But aided or apparently rationalized by the DENR, the agency that is normally expected not to allow its importation has expressed its stand that it is not toxic anyway. If there is no law that bans it so yet, then Congress is at liberty to do so and very well had all the time in the world to draft a policy memorandum that DENR be restrained from its exercise of unilateral authority, albeit gibberish. No one likes a day come when this country becomes the world’s largest garbage collector – for few pieces of silver.

Third, the case of OFWs should be a serious concern if only to prevent countless cases of our fellow Filipinos being victimized by their employers abroad and aided even by some unscrupulous local conduits. Given that the dollar remittances of OFWs buoy up our economy, it is only fitting and proper that we nurture them since their role is to our comparative advantage as a whole. To this end, POEA or OWA in collaboration with DFA, DOLE, Bureau of Immigration and other such cognizant agencies must collaborate toward a final template or roadmap in order to then preclude all these cases of drug ‘mules’, rapes, suicides, et cetera that find our Filipino women especially as usual victims. In short, it should be a mindset that sees ‘one as too many’ in terms of anyone who is victimized by a foreign employer. So, if we can move to that point – that “no OFW is left behind – then, the better..

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Fourth, the case of congestion on the road to the point as if there are no roads is a serious concern. Can something sound and simple yet be done in order to alleviate our individual and collective misery that runs through hell? It can feel like we don’t even need cars anymore once caught in tumultuous or humongous traffic web. There seems to be thirty 20-wheeler trucks for every ten private vehicles on the road and they cruise like train as if in illicit agreement. Add to the problem an x number of traffic lights, u-turn slots, traffic enforcers, car accidents and we shall have a complete picture of a one big mess. Therefore, do we build more roads? Do we build more trains? Not the least, can we fly? Do we need tiny little aircrafts that could bring us from Cubao to Ayala? One great mind sees as an ideal situation a scheme of things where ‘the poor drive their cars while the rich ride mass transit systems.” Sounds foolish? Maybe not. Come to think of it, the unmitigated mushrooming of condominiums near bustling urban corridors failed to mitigate people’s use and need of cars. Damn Filipinos they still bring their cars with them and from atop you see cars parked like tiles below. It’s more fun in the Philippines, you might say.

 

Fifth, the door to AFP modernization is not having the key to rob the vaults. If there is an honest-to-goodness system in the DND and AFP that can guard against all these reported collusions with private contractors with foreign counterparts where each bidder is asked a fee of as high as P30 million reportedly non-refundable, then it would be best. This has always been the problem in a case of ‘not mass consumption for the intended end-users’ but the ‘mass consumption’ between and amongst a ‘tiny little clique’ at the agencies concerned serving as ‘insurance agents’ [insuring that the contract is brokered, rigged if you will]. Can we even imagine government buying a single piece of combat helicopter costing over a whooping P1 billion? Should not one even suspect that at that cost, somebody at DND must have benefitted for over a hundred million? We need forensic accounting to do all the probe past 2016.

MNLF-AFP stand off Zamboanga City
MNLF-AFP stand off Zamboanga City

Sixth, the upcoming Congress must set in its agenda or order of business the matter of whether we ally with what foreign militaries toward a more beneficial security arrangement or alliances. If the government were to renew the usual military agreement with the US something that has already been abrogated, then it shall make sure that under any new arrangement, only the larger interest of our own defense, military and security concerns are best addressed. That goes true with our police – the AsiaPol, InterPol, and the like which are designed to effect real-time coordination against criminals or syndicates who operate within borderless frontiers. Indeed China may likewise be posturing as an emerging military power but what is too odd about a ‘balance of power’ this part of the region if that be the case? Let the ongoing dialogues between and amongst scholars and representatives of respective governments sit for hours in roundtable discussions since those armchair generals, directors, and major service commands know very little about global politics or international relations as the case maybe. Who at DND for example has a PhD in a relevant discipline with a well-rounded knowledge of China? Let us get to know them.

Seventh, there is a host of health issues that should place the DOH for one, the BFAD for another and other equally concerned agencies [i.e DA, DTI] on their toes. There must already be a thought-out mechanism in place against all assortment of stuff that endangers public health and therefore place public interest at risk. Who should see what food or food products are in the shelves that should not be sold in groceries supermarkets, and malls on account of their known toxic ingredients? That should include drugs or food supplements being sold with the regulator helpless to monitor their business operations. There ought to be a 24/7 Alert/Watch but then the curse of regulatory capture in most regulators is something that still ails us today. There ought to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Eight, the corruption issue corrupts absolutely and it operates best at the executive that implements the budget with no particular reference to this present dispensation, of course. There is indication to the effect that it wants to rid government of such corrupt and graft practices although the problem cannot be addressed absolutely. When public officials, in general, think that getting presidential appointments would have allowed them to do hanky-panky, they should rethink their illicit notions of such. In the internet of things, they can become easy prey for either the well-meaning individuals who want a corrupt-free society or those who carry their own agenda – political assassins aplenty. The whole problem is how well we can navigate the turbulent waters of corruption without the ship of the state listing [pardon the naval lingo] either left or right [port or starboard]. Of course the right road, in truth, still leaves much to be desired.

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Either we have a young democracy or a ‘mature’ one retarded by the virus of corruption that inflicts every organ of body polity. For decades on end, that seems to be the country’s state of health. All hospitals were closed, all surgeons were killed, all drugs were burnt. Chronic pestering corruption plays out in full bore. ‘Street-level bureaucrats’ had a field day. The ones that rule are the usual military, economic, and political elites. The leadership always fails to recruit from the ‘best and the brightest’ in their respective fields or disciplines while a country as small as Singapore did not hesitate to appoint holders of a valid Masters of Public Administration [unlike Ralph Rector, some uncorrected errors, he says] as cabinet secretaries – defense, health, agriculture, industry, whatever and they come from across the age spectrum. Here in our country? Certainly even the president himself has not a master’s degree to his name. Pardon, this part of bias, it is not necessarily just mine.

In the end, what is good for our country redounds to us individually. Let that succeed.


This is an original article submitted by Primer Pagunuran, a Doctorate Student in UP Diliman and currently a Consultant at the House of Representatives in the Philippines.


About The Editor-In-Chief of Think Philippines!

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Edwardo Miguel Guevarra Roldan

  • Managing Partner at Princeton Business Initiative
  • Lead Convenor of Isang Samahan, Isang Pilipinas (ISIP) and Think Philippines!
  • Agency Manager at Fortune CARE Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
  • Financial Wealth Planner at FWD Life Philippines
  • Financial Investment Advisor at Rampver Strategic Advisors

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