I’d like to share a paper originally presented as a series of points during a meeting of young professionals I attended last Friday evening. The points that follow were written by Karl Kendrick Chua, who lectures (part time) at the Ateneo de Manila University, College of Economics. As a concerned citizen, he has decided to use his expertise to ask serious questions.
Points on the current political issue
Karl Kendrick Chua
July 8, 2005
Thesis: The call for resignation must come with accountability for our decisions and a plan for the economy in case of a succession.
On resignation: Calling GMA to resign and giving it the right reasons are not enough. Stopping here is only a short-run solution and is bound to cause more problems in the medium- to long-run. Those calling for her resignation must accept and be accountable for the following:
1. The Vice-President must, without question, succeed the President.
2. The choice of Noli de Castro (NDC) as successor must have gone through a very thorough cost-benefit analysis and discernment. On the positive side, NDC is neither connected nor is biased to the following: Marcos and Martial Law, and EDSA 1, 2 and 3. He is also not political. His experience as newscaster, reporter, and TV host, which has brought him to all places in the country and to all kinds of people in different social conditions may be an important asset to the Presidency. While he is seen as less competent for the position, some may argue that his good advisers are enough to guide him. But woe to the people who are naÃƒÂ¯ve not to think that equally bad advisers and blackmailers can influence him and ruin him and the Presidency again. It is a deep tragedy to think that the Presidency cannot be influenced badly. It is a myth to think that good can win over evil. This may be true in the end of times but not in present battles. Those calling for GMAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resignation and thus NDCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s succession can only do so after giving the entire issue and its consequences much thought. Otherwise, pushing for the short-term solution without thinking of its gigantic consequences would only plunge our country into deeper uncertainty and turmoil.
If we agree to call for GMAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resignation, we must be held accountable for the consequences, even the worst-case scenario of an incompetent NDC as President surrounded by useless advisers with greater vested interest, an economic crisis similar to 1983-85, and institutions plunging to total uselessness.
On the economy: The economy must always be insulated from the political mess. It must remain resilient and inelastic to the political situation. Most importantly, the fiscal and tax administrative reforms must continue without delay to avert an economic collapse already predicted by respectable economists. In this light, those calling for the resignation of GMA and thus the accession of Noli de Castro must accept and support the reappointment of the economic team to the Cabinet upon succession of NDC, most especially Emilia Boncodin and Willy Parayno, without delay. The reappointment of Parayno is paramount as his departure will stall the most important reforms in tax administration history.
On unity and leadership: Since so many people and groups are declaring their stands, they are nevertheless close to futileness without a clear unified stand and a leader. Without Cardinal Sin and given a tired Cory Aquino, there is a vacuum in moral and civil leadership. We need to rally behind a leader. We must first identity the most credible leader in civil and religious society. Personally, I would rally behind the collective Jesuit leadership and the collective decision of CBCP. Second, we must swallow our own pride and be humble before our chosen leader and his decision/stand. In this case, we must discard our petty quarrels on the minor details of the issue as well as everything connected to the bigger issue which is not important, urgent or critical. As a benchmark, let go of everything that we are not willing to stake our life to. The most important points that should unite us are the following: Constitutional succession, fully accepting accountability for the resignation of GMA, the succession of NDC, the unpredictable scenario that may arise in the new administration, and shielding the economy from the political mess.
On the electoral structure: Given some consensus and evidence that the oligarchs have ruled for generations and have drastically stunted economic growth and holistic development of the country, we must declare that beginning the next election, we must refuse to elect any member of the political oligarchic clans to any position in government no matter how competent and sincere they are. It is only then that we will have a government less vested with political interest and can serve the people better.
On attitude towards the whole issue: It must be realized and obvious by now that any form of stand, debate, argument or complaint without a workable alternative or solution must be considered useless and a waste of resources. Problems without solutions add to noise, confusion, and uncertainty.
On how to strengthen the new PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capacity to rule: Here is an initial list of what civil and religious society must do to allow the next President to rule with maximum capacity.
1. Civil and religious society which have clamored for GMAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resignation and consequently allowing NDC to succeed must declare publicly and adhere strictly and sincerely to this declaration: That NDC does not owe civil and religious society anything, especially his seat of power, and thus is free to run the country without resorting to payments and honoring political debts.
2. Civil and religious society may give advice to the new President but should again declare publicly and adhere strictly and sincerely that they will not push for one of their members to be in the Cabinet or in any other position in government. They must also declare that NDC is free to appoint as he wishes subject to the normal rules of appointment and tests of competence and neutrality.
To summarize, there are two main points to remember and stake our life to:
1. There is no other viable option but constitutional succession and that we must fully accept and be accountable for the resignation of GMA and the succession of NDC, no matter what happens (even in the worst-case scenario).
2. The economy must be insulated from the political mess. Reappointing the economic team (unless a better choice is determined) must be priority upon succession and we must support it.