Coming clean does not result from silencing and muffling voices. The work of democracy is grounded on reasoned debate and argumentation and not on gagging people from telling what is in their minds however flimsy the information is.
Coming clean does not result from the importuning of power and abusing it to serve narrow purposes and intents. The work of governance is ministering to the needs of the least advantaged and not to the needs of the greedy impostors in the high places.
Coming clean does not result from recollecting the vast promise of possibilities that we have lost because of the in-fighting among the members of the ruling elite. The work of public administration is attending to the requisites of a just and equitable life for the many citizens who need more from law precisely because they have less in life as a result of the machinations of those who call the shots.
Coming clean does not result from the vending of an image concocted by public relations professionals, spin-and-spawn doctors whose business is to create false impressions that sell—or that fool. The work of leading a people to greatness is more than making people consume loads and loads of fantastic impressions but giving concrete evidences of effective public management, the evidences ranging from successfully addressing the concerns of the everyday life of citizens to providing opportunities to enrich the life of their mind. These requisites to effective leadership may range from addressing the price of the galunggong to rearranging the basic social institutions that matter to the least advantaged because when these institutions have been rearranged they bring about the necessary social change.
The Philippines had a share of a president who scared the populace with his tactics about “reds” and “communists” and “terrorists.”
He scared us out of our wits—and many believed him—and on he proclaimed his program to save us all from the political perdition wreaked by the oligarchs.
Next he talked of “national security” and in its name, he invoked the right to put in prison those who crossed his path. In effect, he killed dissent and arrested dissenters. At a certain point, he even banned rallies and demonstrations. And no, you could not talk rumor about the sacred family even if some of them did not know the rubric and ritual to sanctity.
We thought that the past has gone beyond us.
We thought that this past that we remember but that which we do not want to happen again would not come and revisit us.
We thought that this past that has haunted us for so long will remain in the background and will be part of the books of our unhappy and sad republic.
We thought that this past that has no presence because it is a useless phantom lurking large in the tortured mind is now buried in the grave of those who lent a hand to the number one author of terror in our lives.
We thought that this past that prohibited free speech has been unmasked as one tactic to make us blind to the excesses of authority had already been exorcized.
We thought that this past that prohibited free assembly has been overturned and that we have redeemed ourselves from the shame and embarrassment of not being able to gather and together talk with sense about our common future.
But here we go again with an executive gag order prohibiting members of the Cabinet to talk unless with prior permission from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
This is one for the books because we repeat ourselves. We repeat bad and ugly history because we do not learn from its lessons. The endpoint is that we will be condemned if we do not grow wiser. The gag order does not have any context in honest governance and leadership.
We tell President Arroyo: Move on from there, move on from the scandals by governing well. This is the least that the contested presidency and administration can offer. Redemption begins here—in governing honestly and well.
Published, INQ V1N15 2005