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Jun 26th
Home Sections Philippine Presidency Reinventing the "Ramon Magsaysay Line" in Solving Philippine Political Problems
Reinventing the "Ramon Magsaysay Line" in Solving Philippine Political Problems PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Philippine Presidency
Thursday, 30 August 2007 06:01

T oday, March 17, 2015, marks the 58th death anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay and his presidential entourage. Let us discuss his legacy insofar as the Philippine presidency is concerned. Let us examine why Ramon Magsaysay continues to be the most-popular President and said-to-be the most honest of all Chief Executives.

A reader e-mailed me about Philippine politics. The reader said that that the real problem with the Philippines was in "the way public officials are elected." She says that when Filipino voters support and elect officials, they are not very strict on qualifications. Here’s what she said further: "Intelligence is one criterion because we don't want another (deposed) Philippine President Estrada (or Erap) who is not intelligent or Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who claims that she is too intelligent for her constituents. Filipino voters should rate sincerity, commitment, really good and strong values and uncompromising stand against graft and corruption."

The Santiago Illogical Argument

As a senator Ms. Santiago berated her critics by saying that unlike her, very few Filipinos went to Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge. And hence, they could not come up to Ms. Santiago’s level and understand her positions on issues. On the other hand her critics say that she merely took summer classes in the said schools and now she claims to be an alumna of these famous universities. She did not go to any of these universities on their two-term, regular school years. Records show that Dr. Santiago earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Since the Philippines will hold local, congressional, senatorial and presidential elections in May 2010, perhaps we, Overseas Filipinos, especially Filipino Americans, should help the Filipino voters prepare to exercise suffrage fully and wisely. Perhaps Overseas Filipinos should remind their kin and friends back home that they should do their homework in choosing their politicians. Perhaps voters must prepare this early to select wisely the next generation of leaders in 2010.

The problems with Philippine politics and elections can be traced to the lack of written (printed) platforms of government and socioeconomic positions. Filipino politicians refuse to declare principles and policies such as specific programs of government and solutions to present problems faced by the Filipino people. Filipino candidates will just say that if elected they will go against graft and corruption but they will not give the details of how, where and when they would do it. Filipino presidential candidates refuse also to announce the composition of a "Shadow Cabinet," as the political opposition in Great Britain and in some other countries does. Because naming the members of a presidential candidate’s potential Cabinet is one way of knowing if the candidate and his selection have the vision, the experience and the direction to discuss and implement the platforms.

The Sorsogon Province Experience

As a personal experience I tried to introduce a 25-year 52-page, single-space, typewritten draft of platforms of government and socioeconomics to the so-called "Convenors' Group (Opposition Party)" in Province Sorsogon in the election of 1987. The leaders of the group won the governorship and vice governorship in that election. But the leaders refused to consider my suggested platforms, as they said that platforms were not part of Philippine politics and that voters did not need them.

I realized also in 1987 that many people, especially voters, mistake education for intelligence. (And sad to say even Senator Santiago errs in believing that since she is that educated and, therefore, she is that intelligent.) Nearly all of Sorsogon leaders finished some form of college education (meaning, many of them went to earn some degrees from schools and in fact some of them are lawyers). But very few of our leaders, even on the national scene, educated as they are, have the intelligence. (It is defined as the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations). One does not have to have the IQ of a genius (as supposedly in the case of Miriam Defensor Santiago) to become a smart leader. (One is smart if he/she is mentally alert, knowledgeable, witty and clever). But more importantly I found to my dismay that the so-called political leaders I've met – including some classmates at San Beda College and the Ateneo de Manila College of Law who became national political figures – were not savvy. (They were not savvy for they lacked the practical know how and the ability to comprehend the problems and understand the solutions).

The Ramon Magsaysay Line

People and historians say that President Ramon Magsaysay was not the most-educated President. (The only other exception of course is deposed President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who did not finish college.) People said also that Mr. Magsaysay was not the most-intelligent of Filipino Presidents. But he was smart and savvy and more importantly, upright and possessed an honest-to-goodness track record.

The problem with Joseph Ejercito Estrada was that people and voters did not follow what I call the "Ramon Magsaysay Line" in voting for him in 1998 or even in 1992 for vice president. There is a thin, red line that separates success from failure, etc., and etc. People should have for instance compared the family life of Erap Estrada with that of Ramon Magsaysay. For how can a leader be faithful to a country when he could not even be faithful to his wife? The country knew what Magsaysay was capable of doing, for he showed skills as Secretary of National Defense in defusing the Hukbalajap (communist rebellion) crisis. Joseph Ejercito Estrada could not show any leadership and even a vision for great national plans and programs as a senator and more so as Vice President.

If you apply the Ramon Magsaysay Line to his successors and current crop of national politicians, you will find that very few of them will even come close to that standard.

It is high time that the Filipino people must understand that the Presidency or any public office is a serious business that calls for somber socioeconomic and political platforms.

The Overseas Filipinos, especially the more than 3-million Filipino Americans, should demand that those aspiring for the Philippine presidency or any public office in the 2010 election must specify now the details of their serious socioeconomic and political platforms. This is aside from possessing the obvious characteristics such as "commitment, sincerity and capability" that the said reader mentioned.

Decisive Swing Votes

It will be easy for the Overseas Filipinos to demand political reforms. The estimated 8.0-million (and counting) Overseas Filipinos can influence their kin by writing to them. If only one in eight of Overseas Filipino decides to influence at least 10 voters who are either relatives or friends, this will translate into 10-million votes. Fidel V. Ramos for instance garnered only 23% of the 40-million plus votes cast in 1992 in winning the presidency. The one-million Overseas Filipinos that decide to influence their kin and friends back home will actually be the decisive swing votes, even if they are not registered overseas voters. If all of the Overseas Filipinos demand that their folks back home require candidates to come up with written socioeconomic and governmental platforms, then perhaps Philippine politics will change for the better.

The Overseas Filipinos can also force their kin or friends not to sell their votes to the highest bidder. How can the Overseas Filipino guarantee that their request to their kin and friends in the Philippines be followed? They should tell them that if they get to know that the requested political reforms are not followed, then they would stop, or drastically reduce, their monetary remittances to their folks in the Philippines.

As Filipino-American Rotarian Ernie Delfin once said, the Overseas Filipinos might even threaten their relatives or friends that no more corned-beef tins would be included in the Balikbayan boxes (that they send on a regular basis from their foreign domiciles or places of work) if they sold their votes during election time. This is what perhaps will be known eventually as the Philippine "corned-beef style" of good and idealistic type of political-influence peddling.

What say you, Overseas Filipinos (dual citizens or not)? # # #

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Last Updated on Monday, 16 March 2015 20:50
Comments (2)
1 Monday, 09 November 2009 02:06
Nice article. Helped me a lot in my term paper. Kudos! :)
2 Tuesday, 02 February 2010 20:42
googd i dnt understand wahat u say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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