Leopoldo Madarang
Leopoldo Madarang

I found the following letter from a friend of mine floating around as a “comment-of-sorts” regarding a number of different posts and other recent issues. I decided it was worth turning into an actual story. Enjoy…

It has been 28 years since the EDSA revolution that ended 16 years of the Marcos dictatorship. Under the 1987 Constitution, Filipinos restored and modified their democratic institutions. And a vibrant civil society emerged where only the oligarchy actively participate in governance and public affairs. Sadly, what Filipinos have now, is still an “elite/oligarchy controlled democracy” that has only favored largely the already rich and powerful minority while largely placating and excluding the majority of the citizens, especially the poor, in the exercise of power and never seen the fruits of development.

Low economic growth, ineffective governance, political instability, unabated corruption, low quality education, and a lack of investment to human capital development and growth have prevented the Philippines from achieving the degree of national progress of neighboring Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, and China. The Philippines is not winning the race with highly competitive economies, let alone with the chronic and worsening problems of a nation of over 90 million people that now adds millions of children each year to its roster.

Thus, the Philippines continues to suffer from mass poverty, high unemployment and underemployment, homelessness, social inequality and injustice, low levels of social services, endemic corruption, rebellion and criminality, and environmental degradation. Unable to mobilize the needed revenues for public investments in infrastructure, human capital and for social services, the government is increasingly dependent on domestic and foreign borrowing and indebtedness.

In this situation, aspirations for peace, national unity, reducing poverty and curbing corruption, shall continue to elude Filipinos. The post-EDSA political system and its leaders have not provided the nation with the badly needed institutional framework and policies for overcoming our chronic and worsening problems.

To reiterate, it appears that the single most important factor that has set the Philippines behind the dynamic tiger economies in East Asia is her lack of “Good Governance,” or the deficit in leadership. We need responsive, efficient and effective policy-making and implementation under the rule of law. Good governance depends crucially on effective political institutions, the political will of competent and committed leaders, effective and accountable political parties, and the support and cooperation of a media, business sector and civic-minded leaders and citizens.

From our national survey data we see that the Filipino people continue to be optimistic about the future despite their admission that their life had worsened, and despite their dissatisfaction with their kind of democracy. Their pride in being Filipino is high. Their faith in God is deep and they are hopeful that they can make their lives better somehow. These are constructive beliefs and attitudes that can and should be tapped in nation-building and improving their democratic institutions.

Leopoldo Madarang is the original author. And I would like to thank him for giving something worthwhile to re-post. And I hope he forgives my ‘cleaning up” of a few words.

Jacques Phillip

As an ExPat living in the Philippines. I have found it relatively fun and exciting to have been given the opportunity to live among such wonderful people.

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