Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Essential Marcos
By Bong Lacson

Sep 12, 2017

MORE OFTEN the politician neither legislates nor administers so much as he intervenes and mediates. He achieves a personalized relationship with his constituents as individual persons, more anxious about doing things for each of them rather than for all of them.

A bridge, a school, or a rural development project, although important, is not enough. Has he been approachable? Has he managed to place a son in a Manila office? Where was he when a fire broke out or a typhoon came? How personally generous has he been with the needs of certain influential leaders? If he fails in these personalist tests, he fails as a politician.

Are the people to blame for this state of affairs? Hardly, for conditions are such that the majority depend on the government. But are the politicians, who are simply responding to the situation as they see it? I would say Yes. Within the undeniably practical limits of political survival, politicians can and should try out some innovations that will transform the political culture from being populist, personalist and individualist to being more nationalist, institutional and socialist, in the strict meaning of being more conscious about the needs of society and the national community…

One reason for the pervasiveness of corruption is that in being part of the system, everyone it touches seems to benefit…The corrupt politician who is at the same time accessible to his constituents has more chances of staying in power than an honest one “who has not done anything.” He probably takes his legislative or executive work more seriously, concentrating on collective goals to the detriment of political “fence mending,” but he is more often judged by the populist, personalist and individualist standards of the political culture.

A true politician should be able to lead his constituency in a precarious present toward an uncertain future, but he dare not initiate or innovate unless he can be sure it will not cost his position.

It is easy to condemn him for lack of moral courage, but what good is a businessman without a business, a politician without policy? “I must see where my people are going so that I may lead them,” an Athenian politician was supposed to have said. There are certain conditions, however, in which this attitude cannot be a useful principle of democratic leadership.

RELEVANT REFLECTIONS, aye, institutionalized givens in Philippine political praxis, no matter the democratic pretensions. Written – would you believe? – 46 long years ago, by – no kidding! – Ferdinand Edralin Marcos in his 1971 book Today’s Revolution: Democracy.

Populist. Personalist. Individualist. Marcos distilled the essence of all that is wrong, aye, the very evil of politics in the country.

Proof positive once more of the Great Ferdinand’s mastery of political domain.

Even more – testament anew to the persistent prevalence of politics as plunder in the Philippine praxis. EDSA Uno no matter. EDSA Dos, whatsoever. BS Aquino III, no bother.

And ultimately, affirmation again of the Marxist doctrine of history happening fi rst as tragedy and recurring as farce. Or of Santayana’s “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Even simpler is that Irish saying: “There is no present, there is no future, only the past happening over and over again.”

Marcos, Marcos, Marcos pa rin. He would have been 100 today, September 11.

Wonder where the Philippines would have been by now if he stayed…

(Bong Lacson is still on sick leave. This is a reprint of an updated piece from Sept. 11, 2013 fi nding timeliness with current issue on Marcos – Editor)

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