Noynoy’s social contractBy Fernando Fajardo
On Monday, President Benigno Aquino III will face the country to give his State of the Nation Address for the third time.
To understand better what he will be saying about his accomplishments in the first two years and what he intends to do in the rest of his term, we must remember how he looked at the state of the nation before he occupied Malacañang and what he promised to do. Where can we find this? We find this in his Social Contract with the Filipino People, which also serves as his platform of government.
In the contract, Noynoy saw the great damage that corruption brought to the country. Corruption, according to Noynoy, robs our children of their protection, nutrition and education; destroys our families and communities; steals from our farmers and workers; deters businessmen from investing in our economy and erodes our spirit as individuals, as communities, as a people.
As a consequence of corruption, according to Noynoy, we have lost trust in the democratic institutions we so courageously reestablished after the dictatorship and our proven capacity for collective outrage and righteous resistance has been weakened. We have ceased to depend on the patriotism and civic engagement that used to animate many of our efforts; we have become divided and alienated, focusing only on ourselves and on our individual pursuits. Our moral faculties as a people have been paralyzed; we have retreated into a dark world of self-absorption and cynicism and our collective despair has reached its lowest point.
Noynoy envisioned for us a country with a reawakened sense of right and wrong, through the living examples of our highest leaders; an organized and widely shared rapid expansion of our economy through a government dedicated to honing and mobilizing our people’s skills and energies as well as the responsible harnessing of our natural resources; a collective belief that doing the right thing does not only make sense morally, but translates into economic value as well; and public institutions rebuilt on the strong solidarity of our society and its communities.
Noynoy’s mission is to encourage us to make these changes first in ourselves—by doing the right things, by giving value to excellence and integrity and rejecting mediocrity and dishonesty, and by giving priority to others over ourselves and to make these changes impact many aspects of our national life.
In the contract he committed himself to a transformational leadership from a President who tolerates corruption to a President who is the nation’s first and most determined fighter of corruption; from a government that merely conjures economic growth statistics that our people know to be unreal to a government that prioritizes jobs that empower the people and provide them with opportunities to rise above poverty; from relegating education to just one of many concerns to making education the central strategy for investing in our people, reducing poverty and building national competitiveness; from treating health as just another area for political patronage to recognizing the advancement and protection of public health, which includes responsible parenthood, as key measures of good governance; and from justice that money and connections can buy to a truly impartial system of institutions that deliver equal justice to rich or poor.
On the economy, Noynoy promised changes from government policies influenced by well-connected private interests to a leadership that executes all the laws of the land with impartiality and decisiveness; from treating the rural economy as just a source of problems to recognizing farms and rural enterprises as vital to achieving food security and more equitable economic growth, worthy of re-investment for sustained productivity; from government anti-poverty programs that instill a dole-out mentality to well-considered programs that build capacity and create opportunity among the poor and the marginalized in the country; from a government that dampens private initiative and enterprise to a government that creates conditions conducive to the growth and competitiveness of private businesses, big, medium and small; from a government that treats its people as an export commodity and a means to earn foreign exchange, disregarding the social cost to Filipino families to a government that creates jobs at home, so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity; and when its citizens do choose to become OFWs, their welfare and protection will still be the government’s priority.
Having seen now what his social contract or platform of government offers, we should not be surprised if he will now report about his successes in fighting the evils in government (or perhaps his frustrations) and in putting the country on the right footing to achieve faster, sustainable and inclusive growth and where he would improve further to ensure that we reach this objective.
With about 100 million people now, the Philippines is 12th in the world in population size. If we were an average producer, we could have also accounted for 12 percent of the world. This is not to be. In 2010 we only had a little more than $2,000 in per capita GDP, which in ranking is only 123th in the world.
I know nothing much has changed in this regard in the last two years but from what I see so far with Noynoy, the Philippines is on the right path to being a real global presence as far as the economy and governance is concerned