Focus on the Building of the New Order

Reaction to Antonio C. Abaya's article "New Order - Part 2"
By Noel M. Mirasol

Dear Tony,

I am a regular reader of your column at the Manila Standard Today. This note is in response to your question at the end of today's column.

First, I gather that you basically agree with the following premises:

1. The easier task is to do regime change, the difficult part is to establish the new order; (That’s what Jun Lozada-Romulo Neri said, which was the start of this discussion. - ACA [Antonio C. Abaya])

2. The first does not lead to the second as we've learned in the two Edsas; and

3. On the other hand, regime change prior to conclusion of term has downside effects on the nation's welfare and economy. (This is what happened in 1986 and 2001. The economy grew under Cory Aquino until Gringo’s coup in December 1989. The economy also grew under Gloria Arroyo and continues to grow, but may slow down in 2008 because of recession in the US. In both cases, the downturn was caused by extraneous forces, not because of regime change prior to conclusion of term. - ACA).

The current political noise is getting a lot of media attention and increasing participation by many seemingly well meaning people, not just the usual leftists, trapos and other usual suspects. Your columns indicate that you have joined this crowd whose rallying cry is "Seek the Truth".

It is hard to be against the quest for truth. The tragedy however is that "Seek the Truth" quickly morphs into a "GMA Resign" campaign. There seems to be a developing hysteria for another regime change even without a path to or realistic expectation of an ensuing new order.

I suggest that instead of getting all worked up with outrage, we will all be better off if we channel the energy that is being unleashed into building the new order.

The new order will not happen quickly. It will take a lot of work by a lot of people. It may even take a generation. But we should start now, while people are fired up. The next election is more than two years away and, if we start now, a good beginning can be made. Let us use the talent and zeal of the well meaning citizenry to literally create the laws and regulations that will never get done by the people in charge.

Here are examples of what I mean. Why don't we organize a parallel universe of working groups of respected people who will draft an effective anti-dynasty law? (There are several bills gathering dust in Congress calling for the dismantling of political dynasties, as called for by the Constitution. But the dynasts in power resist and will continue to resist such laws. - ACA) How about required improvements to the procurement process, tightening qualification requirements for government officials? I am sure we can draw up a long list of such reforms that will have a large impact. Here's the key … After drafting, there should be working sessions for explaining, debating and refining until we are satisfied that we have a workable solution. Then we can use the "people power" forces to pressure the authorities (congress, executive departments, whoever) to enact and enforce.

A second thrust is to start now to select candidates for elective posts in 2010. The anointed ones should be active participants in the reform activities and should run on a platform of reform implementation.

Another thrust is to conduct research on how other countries (eg., Singapore, Hong Kong) succeeded in eliminating graft and corruption. This research should not be the kind that produces esoteric scholarly articles that only serve to fill file cabinets. We should seek practical, easy to understand and actionable recommendations which could then be assigned to working groups to flesh out. Directing this research work would be a better activity for university officials instead of fawning over sinners, attending rallies and raising fists.

The basic idea is, on the one hand, identify what needs to be done and do the work that won't get done by the people in charge, and on the other, start identifying and preparing the new leaders that we can support in the next election.

We all need to focus on the construction of the new order instead of the destruction of the current administration. The latter may be the popular thing of the moment again, but, as history shows, it does not improve our lot and the country will definitely take a hit.

(These are all worthy initiatives that no one can argue against. But realistically it would be difficult to rouse public opinion in favor of these initiatives if you will not encourage people to also express their outrage over the present iniquities. Do you really think Lee Kwan Yew, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro could have built their New Orders without demonizing the Old? - ACA)

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