Carmen N Pedrosa
We are ecstatic that the Filipino crowd has finally found its strength and the way to express it. For the moment Duterte supporters are full of hope that Rodrigo Roa Duterte, an obscure mayor from Mindanao is the answer. He has come forward with his program and he has a party to implement it – the PDP Laban. He is serious about constitutional change that will transform the Philippines into a parliamentary system with a federal structure. He will have many enemies but he will also have friends and a multitude of supporters to carry out the difficult task.
I don’t think he needs to be told about the treachery of evil. He has lived with it when he was mayor of Davao. But caveat emptor (avoid danger) the famous Latin quotation is relevant to him as well as to us. Evil is a constant in reality. The danger is to think that it can be destroyed with a magic wand. No matter how much he may wish it, it will not happen overnight. Nation building is a slow process of creating effective institutions that should last long after he is gone. And most of all he must keep in mind that as leader of the Filipino crowds that waited for him to remember always that he must not make “the perfect come in the way of the good.” That I believe is the temptation for a man with a heroic bent like Duterte. He wants to do good, he lives humbly and speaks in the language the masses understand. Never mind the critics who tell him that he needs to speak with the Arrneow accent.
His role in history is to begin the process of change. We were subjected to an imperialist constitution from the Americans in favor of a presidential system. That ensured the rule of oligarchy as its new channel to imperialist rule. The all powerful Philippine President would act like the all powerful American governor general.
We had to get out of that oligarchic rot and it was Duterte who took up the mantle with great reluctance. We now have a chance with a leader who promised constitutional changes that would share political power between the national authority and the federated states. It will help solve the problem of Mindanao that has killed so many. I hope we can set up a parliamentary system as soon as possible with a new set of officials (I am also refusing to refer to politicians because that too has become a dirty word).
We have to live and fight evil each day of our lives. The key rests on never giving up.
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It will be interesting to watch how Duterte will handle foreign policy especially the South China Sea dispute. So far, so good. He said he would not force the issue of ownership but instead he would seek help for his infrastructure program.
Meanwhile, both countries should find ways for cooperation that will be beneficial to both. Other countries with claims have managed to do that. Vietnam has done that. Why can’t the Philippines? It looked hopeless. In a recent visit of Filipino journalists to China, a former diplomat said they would wait for the new president to resume talks.
I do not know much about Duterte’s vice presidential candidate, Alan Peter Cayetano. I was told the choice of who would be his candidate was difficult. With Cayetano by his side we can expect a better dialogue and realistic attitude with China. There is certainly room for change.
When Martin Jacques, the best selling author of “When China Rules the World” gave a talk in Manila I was surprised to know that it was the senator who had invited the British author.
I wrote a review of the lecture then. “With the inevitable rise of China as no. 1 in the world economy it is important that we re-examine our foreign policy about it. I find it useful to quote once again from a talk by Martin Jacques, who came to Manila in November 2012. He predicted that in a decade, China would surpass the American economy.
Well, with news that it is now no. 1 according to IMF figures, it has come sooner than expected. Jacques’ talk then was about findings that he put together in a book that became a world bestseller “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order.” It was published in 2009 and it has continued to enjoy a wide readership. It has since sold over a quarter of a million copies and translated into 11 languages.
In his talk in Manila, he was keen to impart to Filipinos that we ought to be ready for the Chinese economic supremacy. The author had the credentials to deal with both Eastern and Western culture and developments.
A number of businessmen I talked to will watch how a new government will handle the issue. Jacques is intellectually equipped to straddle both East and West which is what the Philippines is all about.
Philippines 2020, The Futuristic Society of the Philippines and the Philippine STAR did well in inviting Jacques when Filipinos need to know more about China. The last time I talked with Jacques he said he was expecting to be invited again.
“China is going to change the world in two fundamental respects. First of all, it’s a huge, developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, which has been growing for over 30 years at around ten percent a year. And within a decade, it will have the largest economy in the world. Never before in the modern era has the largest economy in the world been that of a developing country, rather than a developed country. Secondly, for the first time in the modern era, the dominant country in the world, which is what I think China will become, will be not from the west and from very, very different civilizational roots.”