SISOH Discussion on Current Political Issues

February 22, 2019

SOH faculty members, together with Dr. Segundo Eclar “Doy” Romero and Randy Tuano held a discussion last February 13, 2019 on the current political climate in the Philippines. Among the participants in this conversation were John Lenon, Francis Sollano, Aaron Reyes, Louie Julian, Ma. Marilou Ibita, Ma. Maricel Ibita, and Rae Sanchez.
The session began with a prospective assessment of Philippine politics in 2019 from Dr. Romero. Currently, people are wondering about the Philippine political system in relation to China, Philippine polity under the 1987 Constitution in relation to the proposal for a new federal constitution, and whether or not President Duterte will finish his term. Dr. Romero also identified different positive and negative drivers of political trends in 2019, including both certain and uncertain possibilities. He then studied the possible intersections of the major drivers to produce a regime’s outcomes scenario constituting of four prospects.
First, the Duterte administration may become authoritarian while the opposition remains weak, resulting in the worst case scenario called Tiklop, in which there will be an increase in oligarchy and decreased accountability for impunity. Second, the Duterte administration might not become more authoritarian while the opposition remains weak, resulting in a more likely scenario called Kuyakoy, in which there will be no major disruptions. Third, if the Duterte administration becomes more authoritarian while the opposition becomes stronger, the situation of Laban could take place, in which sustained resistance becomes possible, as well as engagement with media and the youth for positive political change. Fourth, the most ideal scenario, Pag-asa, can come about if the Duterte administration does not become more authoritarian and the opposition becomes stronger. If this happens, healing and reinvigoration of political institutions and civic volunteerism can take place.

Unfortunately, political parties that ought to organize societies and function as contractors of the government continue to be the anomaly and weakest link of Philippine politics because we tend to cherry pick. We also need to have a complete set of dimensions of political performance that includes decisional efficacy, legitimacy, civil order, and durability. Military power can be used as a shortcut to civil order and durability. Overall, an assessment of Filipinos’ collective evaluation appears to be good in relation to the Duterte administration, fair in terms of the 1987 constitutional formula, and poor in view of the Philippines as a Nation-State. This assessment bodes ill for the country in the long run.
During the open discussion, the lack of a rallying point for the opposition was brought up. What is needed now are leaders who can act as a proverbial David taking on Goliath. However, people who want change also need an alternative vision for the whole country that includes and involves all stakeholders. They need to be able to provide a goal beyond removing leaders they do not want. The process of rebuilding society and encouraging the youth needs to involve moving minds, moving movers, moving people, moving resources, and moving out to exercise transformative action.