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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bangon Pilipinas! May Pag-asa Pa! Tayo ang Pag-asa!

Ang layunin ng blog na ito ay magbigay ng kaalaman sa lahat ng pinoy at gayundin ay himukin ang bawat isa na simulan ang pagbabago upang bumagsak ang sistema ng korupsiyon at katamaran sa ating bayan. Ito ang panawagan ng blog na ito at gayundin naman ay panawagan ng napakarami pang iba.

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Jesse Robredo, Grace Padaca and Ed Panlilio, the mayor of Naga City and the governors of the provinces of Isabela and Pampanga, respectively.

Nais kong ibahagi ang isang artikulo na sinulat ni G. Conrado de Quiros na pinamagatang, "Again, change". Isang artikulo na sana ay magmulat sa bawat isa upang maging matatag at baguhin ang bansang ito...

*Again, change*
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:12:00 06/18/2008

That was one good tiding that came out on our front page last Monday, a blast of fresh air in a stale room. The story, which ran into the inside pages, had a nicely riveting picture to go with it: the picture of three of the nicest and most riveting local officials of this country caught in a huddle. The three are Jesse Robredo, Grace Padaca and Ed Panlilio, the mayor of Naga City and the governors of the provinces of Isabela and Pampanga, respectively.

Our story said they met in Manila Tuesday last week, courtesy of the group Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship of the Ateneo de Manila University, which sponsored the event. The three are the best known local officials of the land, having succeeded where others have failed. They've not only fought the longest odds to get to where they are, they've fought even longer odds to stay unscathed—morally— where they are.

The idea was for the three to share with each other and with the world their experience in good government and inspire others to tread the same path. Not least in the area of transparency and accountability, the two things lacking in the national government. "Good governance," says Panlilio, "starts with simple lifestyle, low-cost expenses in the capitol, and the efficient delivery of services." The idea, too, was for the three officials to draw strength from each other, apart from public support.

It's a thing to gladden the heart. I know Robredo and Panlilio personally but have yet to talk to Padaca. I did express my enthusiasm about Panlilio and Padaca appearing in Pagasa's forum some weeks ago, and hoped they would appear in more forums to give living testament to the idea that good government is still possible in this country notwithstanding the current regime's resolve to stamp it out. This one does better: It offers the hope of something more organized and permanent. If you can have a League of Mayors or Governors composed of the most rotten scoundrels to be found in the four corners of this benighted earth, you can have an Alliance of True Public Servants composed of the most decent achievers ever to arise from the bosom of this much-oppressed land.

I can only hope it's the start of something big. I'm personally bullish about this for a couple of reasons.

The first is that you can't find three more thoroughly qualified persons to campaign for good governance. This country has not lacked for people who bucked the odds to rise to power, and it has not lacked for local officials who cleaned up their turfs during their terms. Bayani Fernando did wonders for Marikina City, which had become the rape-and-murder capital of this country before he became its mayor. Just as well, it has not lacked for people who didn't steal (or steal big) while in power but who didn't do anything for their constituents either. Their (relative) virtue at least entitles them to not being named. What this country has lacked are elected officials who bucked the odds, cleaned up their turfs, served the people, and remained uncorrupted. The three above have done so, with minor qualifications.

Those qualifications are that Robredo did not exactly buck the odds to become mayor of Naga City: I could be wrong but I've always thought he was the favorite from the start. And Panlilio has yet to add longevity to popularity. But all three of them have served their constituents faithfully and well, Robredo going on to oversee the growth and progress of Naga and the other two bringing their constituents to take the first steps toward it. And all three of them have bucked even greater odds, or wrought an even greater achievement, in the form of remaining honest and decent despite their positions, long or short as they have been.

They're the true face of the entity called "public servant."

Nandy Pacheco is right: Politics is not a bad word, it is a good word. It is not something to spurn, it is something to embrace. It is how we use politics that makes it good or bad; it is how we use power that makes it destructive or beneficial. The point is to get the right people to wield it. The point is for us to rightly wield it.

Which brings me to my other point, which is that it's time we ourselves turned this into a big thing. Harvey Keh, director of Youth Leadership, hits the nail on the head: "If bad people in our government can join forces to wreak havoc on our country, why can't the good people join forces as well to promote good governance in this country?" There's a wealth of truth in those simple words.

I myself am looking forward to that group growing with the addition of more like-minded public officials, ex or current, elected or appointive (though it seems like looking for 10 just men in Sodom and Gomorrah seeking honest and capable public servants from the ranks of current and appointive public officials; well, there's Chief Justice Reynato Puno) to it. And the addition as well of political groups like Kapatiran, civil society organizations, church officials like Bishop Angel Lagdameo, and outstanding citizens like Tony Meloto, Nicky Perlas, and every winner of a Ramon Magsaysay Award for good governance.

Barack Obama doesn't have to take the form for us of an individual from the ranks of politicians, he can always take the form of a movement, or campaign, or experiment like this. As with Americans, who too have been dragged through the dirt through violent misrule, the cry of Filipinos today is "Change!" You can hear it rumbling like thunder from here to Culi-Culi. If a single virus in the form of an unelected and tyrannical ruler can spread to epidemic proportions overnight, an antidote in the form of a group of honest and capable leaders can work an effective cure overnight. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Where there's a way, there is, or will be, a will.

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