Saturday, September 12, 2009

Liberal Party for President

There seems to be great expectations coming from some sectors of society that Senator Noynoy Aquino will introduce a different kind of leadership if elected as president. The present clamor for change brought about the death of a former president has put the good senator on the center stage of Philippine politics. Like his heroic parents who arguably fought dictatorship under the aegis of democratic ideals, Senator Aquino is hard pressed to continue the fight. Sink or swim however, he has to take on the challenge. I do not want to sound pessimistic but I have the uneasy feeling that unless Senator Aquino will be able to show his accomplishment as a legislator, He will never get my vote!

Don’t get me wrong, but in Philippine politics, voters choose their leaders not on the basis of platforms or democratic ideals but on the strength of popularity. Politicos readily recognize the need to be popular at any cost, all in the name of political power. From electoral surveys and television commercials, politicians invest millions of pesos just to infiltrate the minds of the bakya crowd which represents the majority of the voting population. I always deplore these kinds of political gimmickry because it does not only deceive the underprivileged segment of our society it also belittles the role of the masses as particles of sovereignty. Indeed, poverty is one of the most recycled issues deliberately used by politicos to gain political victory. As the saying goes, “necessitous men are not free men.” This practice etched deeply in our damaged political culture is at best pathetic circular if we continue to act as passive voters.

Let me cite my personal experience as a voter. For two consecutive presidential elections, I had always been on the side of Aksyon Demokratiko party founded by no less than the late Senator Raul Roco. He was also the standard bearer of said party during the 1998 and 2004 presidential elections. I consistently voted for him not on the basis of his capacity to win as president but because of his principles and accomplishment as an outstanding legislator. Expectedly, my candidate lost twice in his presidential bid. This experience, no matter how distasteful to my political sensibilities, has not changed my convictions on how to choose political leaders in the succeeding elections. And believe it or not, except for the senatorial posts, my candidates hardly win the elections both in the local and national tiers.

Now focus on the present political landscape. I think the choice on whether to vote for Senator Noynoy Aquino or perhaps Celebrity Duets champion Bayani Fernando as president must be seen in this light. Apart from being a symbol or icon of change, voters must look into the track record of Senator Noynoy Aquino as a legislator and whether he truly represents the ideology of his political party. For one, the Liberal Party has always been a politically potent machine with clear-cut ideological foundations. Its past and present membership speaks for itself. I have always respected liberal stalwarts such as Franklin Drilon and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, both as lawyers and distinguished legislators. But what does a Liberal truly stands for? What happens if, come 2010 we will be having a Liberal sitting in the Malacanang? I think this is the proper way to look at things when we elect political leaders and that is, principles over personalities.

When we talk about liberalism, the first thing that comes to mind is the concept of freedom. With the emergence of political parties by virtue of the multi-party system under the 1987 Constitution, the concept of freedom has evolved tremendously in the political mainstreams. I wonder whether these political parties and their members truly understood what freedom really is and how it blends with the vast powers of government if placed in actual practice. I understand the arguments of those who supported the multi-party system when this was deliberated during the 1986 Constitutional Commission that framed the present constitution. While the multi-party system sought to democratize political parties and in effect giving the voters a myriad of options or alternatives during elections, the vitality of this mechanism however proved the exact opposite. In trying to rectify and erase the vestiges of the Marcos regime, the multi-party system was nothing but an affirmation of a damaged political culture. Political parties in the Philippines, except perhaps the established Liberal Party, come and go. After elections, they just disappear (some join or merge with the administration party for obvious reasons) only to resurface again during elections.

With liberalism as espoused by the Liberal Party, the concept of freedom is absolutely non-negotiable. In essence this is what liberalism is all about and some people from different walks of life could identify themselves with this basic democratic idea. In one of his essays, German political analyst Ronald Meinardus describes in brief, what liberal thinking is all about, viz:

“Liberal governance always strives to promote and increase the freedom of all members of society. It aims at establishing a framework that permits the citizens to manage their lives according to their own preferences. Government should restrain from controlling citizens and instead, respect and defend individual rights. Liberal governance implies that everyone be treated equally regardless of race, social status, views and beliefs or other personal preferences. Here the religious factors comes in, arguably a most disruptive element in many parts of the world. In a liberal order, state and religion are separated.”


Theoretically, liberalism posits two school of thoughts on the concept of freedom. According to Dr.Meinardus the most prominent of the two competing thoughts is the one that elevates the postulates of freedom over state powers. Thus, "One group of liberal advocates defines freedom in a more narrow fashion focusing on the promotion of liberty against state power. These liberals, who in the United States have come to be termed "libertarians" argue that the state poses the main threat to freedom. Therefore they argue, freeing the citizen from government regulation should top any liberal agenda. Liberalism obviously contributed to the growth of democracy all over the world. In historical terms, the great liberal achievements have been made the spread of democracy, the establishment of the rule of law, respect of human rights and last but not the least, the expansion of the market economy.

Unlike his father, Senator Noynoy Aquino is a man of unquestionable character and motive to run for the presidency. Does he have what it takes to maneuver the ship of state towards the right direction? That question to me is somewhat a grey area for now. I have not yet seen nor heard closely Senator Noynoy Aquino’s views on various issues concerning freedom of expression versus governmental powers, freedom of religion versus governmental regulation, and of course individual liberties. I also would like to hear him debate with his fellow presidential contenders on various pre-election fora like the ones sponsored by major television networks in the country today. I am sure the good senator has good insights on political, economic and social issues. Aside from the usual speeches on the advancement of democratic ideals, I have yet to see him defend democracy in the truest sense of the word. How about his position on Constitutional change or perhaps the Visiting Forces Agreement? These are only some of the pressing issues he has to contemplate as early as now. I do not consider myself as an absolute liberal nor a conservative type of citizen. But part of my ideology leans toward the protection of individual liberties under a stable constitutional democracy. Whether Senator Noynoy Aquino or the Liberal Party represents my kind of politics or thinking is a question that remains to be seen in the next few days. Abangan!

12 comments:

Baldwin said...

Impressive thoughts sir Chris. I will consider this essay in my quest for genuine reforms this coming 2010 presidential elections.

Continue to educate the people...

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Chris na lang Baldwin...Thank you.

Liberal said...

"Unlike his father, Senator Noynoy Aquino is a man of unquestionable character and motive to run for the presidency."

This seems to be a very irresponsible statement...I respect your views on Senator Noy Aquino but to attack the person of the late Senator Ninoy is so "unFilipino."

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Sorry If I have offended your sense of nationalism...but heres a thought, stay out of this blog if you find it too offensive...I speak my mind and I stand by my principles as articulated in my writings...(Discourses of a freemind remember?)

If you are indeed a true liberal, then I advise you to reconsider your position on freedom of expression..have a nice day!

Jam24 said...

I can't really say that I'm as politically aware of what' going on, but it seems to me that Noynoy Aquino's the kind of guy that's too relaxed to really thrive and perform well on a presidential seat. That's why I'm still wondering over who I should vote for.

Lol...I'm a first time voter, and wow, my pol.sci. teacher is really pressuring us on voting responsibly. I understand why she's really presses the point, but at the same time, I'm feeling like an octupus with twenty legs, going all over the place, but no real direction.

Anyway, I have to say that you're blog is awesome. It helps a lot for info on my class. Could I also ask, for you, what is the most important issue that must be debated on today? (My teacher told us to give ideas on a debate topic)

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Well remember Aristotle’s theory that man by nature is a political animal? People from all walks of life cannot get away with politics whether they like it or not. For one, we are citizens of this country so we have responsibilities and obligations as mandated by law and the Constitution. (i.e. the right of suffrage) So Jam you really have to be aware of politics ok? I admire your professor for encouraging the youth to go out and vote come 2010 but before doing that, consider all angles and then decide. We have to be politically educated if we want our country to move forward.
The point I wish to make is this: we could never risk good governance on the basis of sheer emotions like the one we are experiencing now-the “Noymania.” If Noy wants to run for the presidency then he has the burden show his accomplishments as a legislator, both as a Congressman and a Senator. Honesty and courage, although important ingredients of a good leader, will not necessarily translate to good presidency. This was exactly the plight of former President Diosdado Macapagal during his stint as Phillipine president. I hope people will realize this. Then if they are satisfied with that, then by all means go for Noy Aquino.

And as to your question on important issues to be debated upon today, well we have plenty of that, let me see…1) Reproductive health bill because it involves Church and State politics 2) Constitutional change, focusing on the mode and the quality of revisions they wish to make on the 1987 Constitution 3) The vitality of multi-party system in our country-personalities over principles a and perhaps well about Noy’s candidacy..distinguish symbol from substance….

I hope I was able to help you in my own little way. Thank you again for visiting my blog site

political said...

One of the best political blogs ive seen...Your discourses on Cha-cha were great. I hope I have the gift of expressing my thouths in writing the way you do...

I agree with you on Noy's candidacy.

Politicalwiz...

Jam24 said...

I think I'll go for the Noynoy's candidacy debate since I think my professor would love an Election related topic. On another point, the opposite of Noynoy, for me, is Fernando Bayani. He seems to have a really good track record, however, there was that piece of news about him accepting a birthday gift from entertainment earnings. I was so near to voting for him, but now I'm not sure again.

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

You should have seen Bayani's performance in the ANC debate and during the LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD convention....think some more...

Jamju Rivera said...

Buenos Dias, Atty. Bonoan! Your take on national politics is indeed quite refreshing, and one that should be shared, especially in our hometown. We so need minds like yours to give Basilan that 2nd lease on life that it truly deserves. We, ourselves, need a lot of educating, and we do hope that you could share your thoughts on Basilan politics soon.

We're lookin' forward to even more healthy discourses! =)

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Gracias Jam for the comment. Just call me "Pey" or "Chris," Atty.Bonoan is my brother, obviously your classmate back in high school...

I'm trying my best to familiarize with the local politics in Basilan and perhaps write something about it...soon...

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