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What’s wrong with a term extension for GMA?

What’s wrong with a term extension for GMA? Well, nothing – if you’re being totally objective about it. The problem is that, we may have passed the point where objectivity about GMA is still possible. And once you’ve crossed that line, you have to decide whether it is more important to have a technically competent president (which, itself, is a debatable statement) or a president with enough social capital – not to mention credibility – to inspire the people.

And this is one of those times when objectivity really becomes irrelevant and you start working with what you have. If you think about it, this is the same logic behind all those ‘move on’ arguments people like Bong Austero have been championing. Accept that GMA is prez, forget the cloudy legitimacy, and just move on. Turn that on its head and you get, ‘Accept that an extended GMA presidency will just bring more opposition and undermine her capacity to get anything done, forget that the extension can be done legally, and just move on.’

And that’s the reason why many people – most Filipino Voices bloggers included – vigorously oppose the idea of an extended term for GMA, as bombastically espoused by the the blogger HPoS. It’s not so much the process that is objectionable, benign0, as it is the intended  beneficiary of the process that is so problematic.

Meanwhile a little detail was glossed over in this tirade — that the extension of GMA’s tenure in power will be facilitated by an exercise to amend the Constitution using legal means.

So, no detail was glossed over. It’s just that I thought everyone understood that already.   But apparently, there is still some lingering misunderstanding. 

This exercise will be executed using due legitimate process and either approved or rejected by duly elected representatives under our current system of government.

Now I don’t know when the law was changed – musta’ been when I was in Batangas or something – but what I know is that any amendment to the Constitution has to be submitted to the people for ratification in a plebiscite. As far as I know, this means that the exercise of amending the Constitution – executed using ‘due legitimate process’ will NOT be approved or rejected by “duly elected representatives under our current system of government,’ but by the people themselves – directly – in a plebiscite called for that purpose.

This fact alone shows that the authority we grant elected representatives remains limited. We do not, benign0, abdicate our sovereignty to the people we elect. Which means, quaint as you may think it, the power to decide who gets to be president – which includes the power to decide who doesn’t get a second chance to be president – is, in fact, reserved to the people. 

And the people – though we agree that that they sometimes seem to behave like sheep – should nevertheless not be treated as sheep. In fairness to benign0, he never actually says that people should be treated like sheep. As he always does, he simply pointed out the obvious – that there have been numerous instances when people have behaved like livestock; as he always does, he lets your outrage complete the sentence for him, as it were.  But his implication is clear enough. By saying that 

Pinoys may not come across on the surface as docile sheep, but the way we move and the mentality that underpins said movement is not too different from the dynamics of how a flock of sheep behave.

he insinuates that since we act like sheep anyway, we shouldn’t take umbrage at being treated so. This, in turn, implies that people ought to fully and trustingly accept the actions of their elected representatives, on the theory that these representatives are only looking out for our best interests. 

Sounds familiar? Yep. That’s what fathers and mothers always tell their children when they run out of reasons for saying ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘you can’t do that.’ Nothing against parents, of course, but for an entire country?

Benign0’s apparent predisposition to accept this kind of pap shows that he thinks more like the Filipino he loves to excoriate than he might care to admit. Y’see, the Filipino is obsessed with leaders as ‘father figures,’ because among other things, believing that way makes it possible to shift all blame from himself to the ‘father figure’ who is responsible for him. Sheep are never at fault for straying into the mouth of a wolf; it’s always the shepherd who is blamed. And this, I have to admit, gives tremendous psychological comfort to the sheep.

So, while I freely admit that Filipinos do tend to sheepage, this is no excuse for elected representatives to agree, much less take advantage. If our elected representatives are, in fact, serious about acting in our best interests, then it behooves them to move us away from sheepage (which is an affront to the concept of full human freedom) and encourage the growth of a more participative democracy – one of the vanguards of which is the blogosphere – in which human freedom is more fully, albeit still imperfectly, realized.

Elected officials who, on the other hand, believe that once elected they are clothed with king-like powers over their constituents – remember what the HPoS wrote: “we will get what we want and people will just follow us” – are either not too interested in what their constituents think, or are arrogant enough to believe that they alone know best. Either way, these are not officials who should be allowed to stay in office, because – again as the HPoS clearly demonstrates – they do tend to want to perpetuate themselves in power.

Let us not forget that however benign shepherds are or appear to be, at the end of the day, they still lead their sheep to be fleeced. I, for one, think that I’ve been fleeced enough these past eight years. I can hold til 2010, but after that, enough.

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