PAG-ASA STATEMENT - 06 August 2005

PAG-ASA STATEMENT - 06 August 2005

PAG-ASA CALLS ON
FILIPINOS TO BE ACTIVE, RENEW DEMOCRACY, AND
PREVENT THE RISE OF A TOTALITARIAN STATE

We face a huge crisis. Gloriagate has led to intense conflicts between power blocks. The military is restless. The country is heading towards a civil war, possibly a dictatorship. Filipinos can no longer sit in the sidelines. Apathy will encourage the rise of a totalitarian government and will mean the death of our democracy. We all have to make a decision, stand up, and defend and renew our democracy.

Structural Crisis Shaking Belief in Democracy Itself. We have a super complex problem in our hands. The GMA scandal is just a symptom. We have a crisis in the very institutions of democracy and society itself. Worst many are becoming deeply cynical about representative democracy itself and are throwing up their hands in despair.

Many want GMA to step down. But they also dislike the various political interests that want to replace GMA. Nor do they trust the voices, especially of those in business and civil society that kept GMA in power all these years. The poor are cynical. "Faces may change but it is all the same". "Nothing will change. No matter who is in power, our lives remain as miserable as they have always been". And the marginalized are correct.

The democracy we have is an illusion, a huge nightmare. It is a stinking mess. Many of our democratic and enabling societal institutions are either dysfunctional or destroyed. They have become shameful and dreaded vehicles for the power-hungry and the corrupt.

We and our "democracy" are plagued, among others, with pseudo political parties, turncoats, vote-buying and selling, rigged elections, pork barrels, failed election promises, uncaring, corrupt and abusive politicians, tainted judges, a financially bankrupt state, predatory lawyers and a preferential option of our jails for the poor while rich criminals roam free harassing and killing people. The problem is aggravated by segments of civil society which have been corrupted, an unusually silent Church (with notable exceptions) and an irrelevant and tainted business leadership "investing" in trapos for their protection, pseudo stability and profits, Politicians of all kinds either seek refuge in or ignore the Constitution and laws depending on whether or not the legal system can protect and advance their corrupt and exploitative ways.

This is not democracy. This is a form of authoritarianism masquerading as democracy! And if we do not resist this now and be active, we will surely have a totalitarian state in our midst.

Dirty Hearts and Minds Create Dirty Institutions and Societies. We are all guilty or have been guilty of sins of omission or commission. We all need to take a deep look at our role in bringing our beloved country near the point of ruin. Institutions are made up of people. If people are dirty within, then they will create dirt outside. Dirty hearts and minds create faulty ideas and dirty institutions. The deep structural challenges we face reflect the deep inner changes that we have to make. Only when we have changed inside can we renew society. Only when we have an authentic cultural revolution will we have hope. This is both the blessing and the curse of the GMA scandal.

PAG-ASA. We are launching PAG-ASA to respond to this challenge. The Peoples Assembly for Genuine Alternatives to Social Apathy (PAG-ASA) is a spiritual-cultural movement, not a political or business formation. We are non-partisan and non-aligned. We come from diverse sectors of cultural life including the organizations of the poor, academe, artists, religious, professionals, NGOs, foundations, and social movements. Many of us participated and some even led People Power II but we kept our independence from the GMA government. We have no ambitions in obtaining political office in any post-GMA government. (See "On PAG-ASA" for more details.)

Our Call. First, we call on all the forces of good in our country to come together and join us in giving birth to a new democracy, to a better country. Our call recognizes the existence of Filipinos who have struggled with their own imperfections and have emerged strong in conscience and integrity. Organized good is a source of great hope for our future.

Second, we call for peaceful means to change our government, prevent corrupt politicians from entering the vacancy, and radically reform our democratic institutions. We therefore reject any form of military or military-citizen juntas and violent seizures of the state.

Third, we call on all those directly involved with politics, no matter what their alternatives are, to pursue deep structural transformation in our political governance and democratic institutions. We will encourage, from the outside, all political forces that will authentically create meaningful structural change for the common good. We will resist any attempt to continue government-as-usual.

PAG-ASA does not have a specific preference as to which political alternative will emerge to replace the GMA government. PAG-ASA recognizes the advantages and disadvantages inherent in the various constitutional alternatives to GMA (succession, snap elections, and transitional caretaker or revolutionary government) that are being proposed. Within this context, PAG-ASA sees that the various alternatives have varying possibilities of realizing people's desire for a deep and meaningful change in our system of governance. Therefore, instead of preferring one option over another, PAG-ASA sees it more important to specify and advocate for the conditions under which the different political alternatives will be truly beneficial to the country.

Among others, these various alternatives should have these characteristics:

  • Create authentic and profound systemic, structural change.
  • Promote of direct participation and democracy especially of the disadvantaged sectors of society.
  • Neutralize, minimize or totally remove the influence of trapos from political life.
  • Redress the serious imbalance of power in society.
  • Build institutions instead of personalities.
  • Ensure that those who are advocating for deep structural change are moral, upright, and credible. And that they have a good track record of performance and truly value participatory approaches to policy formulation and implementation.
  • Encourage profound inner change as the essential foundation for societal transformation.

Fourth, following our own proposed principles, we will support any call from any political formation for a constitutional convention as long as this approach to charter change is not in the control of traditional politicians and will encourage true participation by authentic representatives and the Filipino people at-large.

We oppose meaningless exercises such as charter change by means of a Constitutional Assembly such as that being proposed by former president Fidel V. Ramos and current House Speaker Jose De Venecia and being used by GMA to divert attention away from her scandalous behavior and government. We see such efforts as mere diversions from the current attempts to remove GMA from office. Worse, we see such an effort as a not-so-hidden way to permanently install GMA in power as well as further consolidate the interests of traditional politicians who have brought us to our current grave crisis in democracy.

Fifth, we call on Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her Cabinet including Noli de Castro, and the Comelec to make the ultimate sacrifice and resign. They are the greatest external obstacles on the way of creating a truly dynamic, vibrant, and living democracy. We tell them: "You have all lost your moral credibility and legitimacy to remain in office. Listen to the call of most Filipinos who want you out by whatever means. Spare the country from further damage and resign for the good of the nation." We support all peaceful means to remove GMA from office.

PAG-ASA recognizes that the resignations, however unlikely especially in the case of GMA, will create a vacuum of power that can easily be exploited by other decadent and self-serving political forces. We do not want this. This is the reason we have specified above the various ways that how an orderly and peaceful approach can come about to fill this vacuum.

Sixth, we call on all Filipinos, especially those who have not made up their minds in terms of how to respond to the GMA scandal: "Reflect on the quality and authenticity of our democracy. Do you honestly believe that truth, justice and good will come out from our compromised and decadent democratic institutions? Will the Constitution, laws and institutions guarantee a better Philippines when many of these have been held hostage by manipulative and greedy political, economic, and cultural powers?

And, seventh, we anchor all our calls above with one central call. We call on all to undertake the profound and painful process of inner change. No structures will change and give good results unless the people running these structures have also changed for the better. This is the only way the address the fundamental problem of the moral, spiritual and cultural decadence that underlies the severe crisis on political leadership and democracy that we have.

As part of this overall process, we call on all to confess to our collective guilt and do all we can to transform ourselves so that we will have the inner authenticity to change the "structures of sin" that surround us. The quality of our hearts and minds will determine the quality of our democratic and other institutions. In this process, we call on all Filipinos to enter deeply into sacred space, either thru silence, meditation, or prayer, and call on the Divine to help us all find our highest and most authentic inner voice as individuals and as a nation.

Our Commitment

To realize these calls, PAG-ASA commits itself to a nation-wide organizing process that will create, both in the near and long term, significant power and influence among organized citizens to counterbalance unhealthy tendencies in society, whether these be in culture, politics and economics. This network of autonomous but interconnected nodes of PAG-ASA will also become laboratories for creating prototypes of social innovations that can create a better Philippines.

In addition, PAG-ASA, in cooperation with like-minded groups and movements, commits itself to establishing peoples' assemblies in various parts of the country. These peoples' assemblies, working in the cultural life of the nation, will, among others, complement PAG-ASA's call for a meaningful Constitutional Convention to transform the political system of the country as specified above.

These nodes and peoples assemblies will also become the basis for a long-term infrastructure for either critically engaging or criticizing the state and the market, as well as transforming retrograde values and institutions within civil society itself.

Tama na ang dumi! Baguhin na nating ang ating sarili at ang ating bayan!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Flor Vargas 913 9634 Amy Punzalan 990 8163
Msgr. Jerry Bitoon 0920 951 6139 Fr. Puti Enriquez 0920 416 6990
Nicanor Perlas  687 7481 or 687 7482 Fr. Robert Reyes; 0917 895 2455

PAG-ASA Secretariat Office: Raquel Naval Telefax 4387963 / 09266210316. Or call answering service at: 687 7481 or 687 7482. Or you can visit truthforce.info and www.geocities.com/pag_asaphilippines/home.html.