Editorial & Opinion

Sociological change

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From reading world news I sense occurring not only a rapid technological change but also a major sociological change. Occurring, in great part, because of the internet - Twitter, Facebook, etc.

A new system is bringing to people’s awareness what is happening in the world around them. In a “sound-bite” way that is captivating them. And they are not happy to realize that politicians are breaking promises as a norm.

So they are rejecting the old style of politics in a big way. And I’m surprised that our politicians don’t seem to see this - to read the message in Rodrigo Duterte’s surprise win, in Donald Trump’s unfortunate election, in the irrational decision on Brexit, and now in a dictatorship in Turkey. The rise of leaders who oppose traditional politics affirms what former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said: “Aussies are sick of politicians who don’t deliver. Politicians have lost the trust and respect of the people. Government could do better. There’s a new level of despair among middle Australia. They are especially sick of politicians who change their policies to suit their political convenience.”

The introduction of democracy in Ancient Greece around 500 B.C. shifted the world from dictatorial authoritarianism to representative government. But democracy seems to be failing; too many “representatives” failed to give the people what they expected. And with the “new awareness” the internet has provided, people are saying “enough.”

People are calling for a new style of leadership, one that’s truly for the public good. President Duterte came into power promising change, promising speed of action. I think that what Abbott said is a key reason the President won. The Philippine public wants to get away from traditional political systems marked by too little action.

The problem is the message in Mr. Duterte’s rise to the presidency doesn’t seem to get through to many in leadership position. Despite the good intentions of a number of legislators, Congress as a whole has not lived up to the peoples’ new expectations; it is behaving in the same old way: It has no sense of urgency to legislate what the President and the people are calling for.

As an observer of Congress for the past 40 years, I see no change today in the pace with which laws are passed. Our legislators argue interminably over inconsequential details, distracted by irrelevant (to the national good) issues, instead of acting on the reforms the country needs. For example, who really cares about Sen. Leila de Lima’s private life?

The statistics bear me out. During the first regular session of the 17th Congress (from July 25, 2016 to March 15, 2017 - nine months), only two laws of national significance were passed - the 2017 national budget and the one postponing the barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections.

The country’s leading business chambers have identified a dozen legislative measures they would like prioritized. Business needs these to operate more efficiently, but none of these has been approved on second, let alone third reading. And there are many other important bills affecting various arenas where progress seems equally vapid.

Meanwhile, people are paying tax from their meager salaries more than they really should because tax reforms are not acted on quickly; they sit for three hours in a bus and are unable to meet their appointments because of hellish traffic jams as they await the passage of a law granting the President “emergency powers vs. traffic.”

If those in power today want to be reelected in 2019 they might want to ponder this: Voters are highly dissatisfied; they will increasingly seek change - and vote for leaders who act and deliver on their promises.

As I’ve raised in earlier columns I’m particularly concerned about the lack of action on tax reforms. The reforms could bring about monumental improvements to our lives. I’d hope Congress will pass the law in its totality before going into its next recess.  - Inquirer.net

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