Time to Reflect, Review and Reform

“Opportunities, goodwill, reputations, wealth and other assets once lost can be recovered – but time misused or wasted is gone forever…”

– Ancient Wisdom

These last few days have brought bad news for President Duterte’s Administration – and, therefore, bad news for all of us Filipinos. The negative developments indicate not just fleeting conditions but, indeed, defining trends that must be corrected. For instance:

  • The ongoing devastation of Marawi City and the serious collateral damage in our national security and socio-economic condition;
  • Declines in Presidential trust and credibility are sharper than before;
  • Questions about the unjustified killings (EJK) of drug suspects has become universal concerns (by at least 39 U.N. member-nations);
  • Massive calamities taking place in various foreign regions;
  • Political instability in unexpected places such as Spain, U.K., Russia, West Africa; and
  • Displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from civil war (Syria-Iraq), “ethnic cleansing (Muslim Rohingya-Myanmar)” or religious strife.

Because of the above, and in view of the coming ASEAN Summit of world leaders hosted by the Philippines next month, P. Du30 and other leaders must now pause, review and reform policies and programs that have gone wrong or derailed glowing promises made during the immediate past.

Regardless of political affiliation, ethnic origin, religious faith or socio-economic status – every member of our huge, extended family of more than 102,000,000 Filipinos (plus foreign retirees and investors who have cast their fortunes with our beloved Philippines), need to work more closely together and pull more forcefully as one team to keep our Ship of State “Pilipinas” seaworthy, competitive and moving steadily in the right direction – and achieve, without further reversals, our aspirations for a better future.

Our Filipino family is now ranked the world’s 12th largest in population. We are no longer a small colony but must now be seen as a potentially capable global player.

All onboard “Pilipinas.” Because we are all together onboard ship “Pilipinas” — which is still leaky and slow moving because of internal strife and disunity, we each need to pull an oar or plug a leak -instead of adding more holes- to insure our ship’s viability and momentum. P. DU30, therefore cannot just continue skippering our ship willy-nilly headlong, oblivious of danger signs, without addressing the strategic imperatives of public safety, community harmony, and national development.

Also, all passengers must know how to swim — if they are to survive in case our ship sinks. What about the little children and babies? Patay (dead)! — unless…

Caring for Earth: 24/7 duty. As Commander-in Chief and “Pinoy Family Head,” it is P. DU30’s inescapable responsibility to first put our fragmented house in order. That’s the only way our nation can move forward steadily in the war against poverty, endemic disease, hunger, climate change, environmental degradation, dangerous drugs, joblessness, criminality, and corruption.

Getting our officials, government agencies, peace advocates, business sector and other components of society to work together as a competitive team at national and local levels is crucial. Together, let us propel our ship forward and upward, then stay steady on course toward a brighter future.
A grave crisis the whole world faces is climate change — with dire exhortations and warnings for all countries. Respect for and protection of Mother Earth should be a mandatory responsibility of Filipinos from all walks. This is our 24/7 duty.

Failing to heed timely admonitions to do basic preparatory and defensive measures could lead to tremendous disasters and unnecessary loss of lives. True enough, as recent super-typhoons at home and tsunamis and mega-hurricanes elsewhere have shown us, token actions or unfocused defensive measures would be suicidal.

For Filipinos, the impacts of global warming amount to more than just inundation and desertification — which are bad enough — but as we have seen, such calamities bring grave impacts upon health, housing, agriculture, food/water, power supply, transport, livelihood, etc.

Leadership through challenge and crisis. The vision of a better future from which all nations and peoples benefit equitably — regardless of ideology, religion, culture, socio-economic status, and geography — is our unceasing, ultimate aspiration.

This universal hope should provide strategic guidance to the decisions and policies of today’s leaders and their successors. We must organize a caring and sharing international community, and make it a family of truly principled nations daring enough to take concerted action against the threats to humankind.

It is toward such a better world that leaders — in their roles as “custodians of the nation’s ideals, values and permanent interests” — must lead their people. This is the kind of governance the Philippines needs — which P. DU30 must deliver for the next 4 ½ years despite difficult challenges.

We need leaders who — because of their visionary quality and political skills — can see beyond the gloom of the moment to brighter future possibilities, enough to carry out painful reforms. Obviously, today’s complex and delicate world must be managed through inclusive governance and efficient management.

The president as juggler and skipper. Talking from experience, FVR believes that confronted with such serious concerns, P. DU30 is like a juggler, balancing and keeping aloft at least ten balls, which are transnational problems.

But, as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, he must perform with greater agility and competence than the ordinary circus juggler handling hot potatoes while on a tight wire 100 meters aloft – catching and managing the balls in a calm, harmonious manner, and not drop any in the process.

From our people’s perspective — whose hopes for a brighter future ride on the president — the high wire represents our aspirations for a better quality of life. As skipper of our flag carrier “Pilipinas,” P. DU30 must prove his navigational skills, mental stability and psychological fortitude by steering our leaky and overloaded ship safely to the “promised land.”

Challenging, isn’t it? Of course, it is. The presidency is no place for panicky, self-centered, onion-skinned or fragile characters.

And, P. DU30 must be able to communicate, persuade and endear effectively — without falling off the high wire or drowning in a capsized vessel.

Don’t waste opportunities. In the course of time, the Philippine ship had been battered and buffeted by turbulent politics and social unrest, particularly since the 1970s. Poverty continues to be our primary problem. We need work double time to solve it. We must involve every Filipino — every man, woman, and child — start them young, teach them the right values while still tender and malleable. We must challenge them to be strong in values, be better than preceding bad examples, be good world citizens. Most of all, we have to teach everyone teamwork.

Filipinos cannot anymore afford to be fragmented and fractious. We need to be and act as one nation. We have to act in unison and move in the right direction. We need to care for each other. We need to share and contribute whatever talent one has. We must dare and try all proper means to get results faster, whose outcomes should benefit the majority.

Experience teaches us that no man/woman, be he/she the president or billionaire captain of industry, can single-handedly bring peace and progress to our land. The job of nation-building requires every citizen, no matter what his/her stature in life is, to his/her just share.

From day one, a national leader must define where he will bring the nation and show the people how to get there. He leads by setting the right example that the citizenry should emulate. He leads by making the correct decisions for — the betterment of the many, not enrichment of the few.

The Bottom line. P. DU30 cannot do it alone. Neither can just the government. But when all of us strive together with one goal in mind, and abide by the same precious values and commitments — we become a strong nation able to achieve the higher quality of life we have always yearned for — in an environment of enduring peace and sustainable development.

The piece of brick, which a laborer, farmer, fisherman, soldier, policeman, housewife, businessman or professional contributes to the task of nation-building counts substantially in strengthening our nation. These building blocks when put together become the sum total of the collective and sustained efforts of our people.

Progress is the conquest of poverty. There is real progress when only the totally disabled are jobless. Progress is present when every citizen feels safe at home, in workplaces, and in the streets.

Let good governance ring true for every public servant, from the head of state down to LGUs. Having been there and done it, FVR believes public servants must embrace their duties, neither as mere jobs nor opportunities to grab what they wrongfully think is rightfully theirs — or even if they think they are right.

Rather, they must always value public service as the expression of their unconditional love for country and fellow Filipinos.

KAYA NATIN ITO (although we’ve already lost all of one year or more)!

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org. Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

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