DEMOCRAY is said to be “less a specific set of government institutions and more a cluster of values, attitudes, and practices that the nation share a common understanding of and agree with.” These values, attitudes and characteristics include, though may not be limited, to the following: 1. Power and civic responsibility are freely exercised by all adult citizens, directly, or through our freely elected representatives. 2. The majority rules but minority and our individual rights are respected. A democracy guards against a very powerful central government. Through the “principle of subsidiarity” (that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority). It decentralizes government to regional, provincial or state, and municipal levels, ensuring that all levels are genuinely accessible and responsive to us, the people. … [Read more...] about Are we a true democracy? No, we are not. Why do I say that?
Why politics matters making democracy work
Burlington, Iowa: I am here in this quiet, clean and friendly Midwestern city to visit with my eldest daughter and her family and learn a little bit more about the famous Iowa primary, which for now forty years or so has provided the earliest indication of who would be nominated as the official presidential candidates in the national conventions of the Democratic and Republican parties. Americans I have spoken to on this trip seem to have the same problems as Filipinos at home. They need all the help they can get in finding candidates to support in the 2016 elections. There seems to be a lack of material for national leadership everywhere. This is not helped by having all the candidates self-nominated without a screening process. Here, the primary precludes the possibility of 130 candidates filing for the presidency, but this is not to suggest it has eliminated all its problems. The US primary as a screening process In 1976, the Iowa Republicans chose Gerald Ford, while the Democrats … [Read more...] about Even in the US, democracy isn’t working
For reasons that I will explain, I return today to the subject of integrity, which was the focus of my previous column (“Grace Poe and the politics of integrity,” The Manila Times, 16 June 2015). After reading and noting all the comments and reactions to the piece, I realized that I left a number of points hanging and unresolved. The biggest is that I did not find space for a definition of integrity that will aid public understanding of the virtue and principle, and help people in becoming persons of integrity. Second, I could not find space for Stephen Carter’s “eight principles for a politics of integrity,” which I believe will be particularly useful for us at this time when we see the ethical roofing of politics and government sagging badly, and when we cannot trust our leaders, beginning with President BS Aquino. Integrity: First among the virtues He says integrity requires three steps: Discerning what is right and what is wrong; Acting on what you … [Read more...] about Principles for a politics of integrity
President Aquino’s disclosure that he intends to tap Senator Grace Poe as his and the Liberal Party’s presidential or vice-presidential candidate in the 2016 elections wasn’t at all surprising. His first choice, Mar Roxas hasn’t, as it is usually put, been “rating well in the polls,” registering pathetic single-digit popularity scores. And if he doesn’t control the next administration, Aquino is likely to end up in jail, what with such obvious anomalies under his term as the P157 billion Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), which was essentially his hijacking of funds for purposes other than those authorized by Congress. Aquino has issued about 5,000 SAROs (Special Allotment Release Orders) for purposes of payments unauthorized by the appropriations law, which could translate to that number of separate charges of technical malversation, and taken as a whole, of plunder. If the next President isn’t his puppet, Aquino at best could spend … [Read more...] about Not a democracy, but celebrity rule
By Edgardo J. Angara Former Senator The inaugural conference of Academia Filipina on Friday, February 24th, could not have come at a more appropriate time. It’s on the eve of EDSA. Analysts have noted that Filipino liberties are once again in jeopardy some 31 years after People Power overthrew a dictatorship. Freedom House recently said that freedom in the Philippines is declining, citing the thousands of bodies turning up since the drug war began. Amnesty International exposed a murderous racket involving policemen and funeral homes earning thousands for every drug pusher or addict killed during anti-drug operations. The gruesome murder of Korean national Jee Ick-Joo inside Camp Crame illustrated the utter disregard for the rule of law and the brazen violation of human rights of no less than by law enforcers themselves. More troubling is how today’s lawlessness and violence have sparked very little outcry. The institutions that should have served as the bulwark of … [Read more...] about Why is our freedom declining?
POLITICAL actors have traditionally been classified as “left-leaning or right-wing” and at times “centrist” based on their positions on major governance issues such as: role and size of government, welfare policies, production and delivery of public goods, stance towards the private sector and human rights, among other governance issues. Since the re-start of the Philippines’ life as an independent nation in 1946, we might say that there wasn’t much difference with the two main parties formed, the Nacionalista and Liberal parties, in terms of where they stood in the spectrum. And more telling, the Filipino on the street probably couldn’t tell the difference no matter which political party or mix thereof governed the country. The Communist Party of the Philippines, while not participating in elections, has long held out a political vision that would be at the other end (leftism) of the spectrum but seeks to govern by victory from a … [Read more...] about The need for a different political spectrum
[This is the Dec. 12 editorial of the New Delhi daily The Mint, supplied to The Times by the Tribune News Service-TNS.] In a courtroom speech in 1953, Fidel Castro made the claim: “Condemn me, it does not matter! History will absolve me!” But Castro himself would make the job of history much more difficult during his more than 47 years of rule over the tiny island nation of Cuba. Castro’s death last Friday has prised open the debate once again: What will be history’s verdict on Castro? His revolutionary ascent to power in 1959 came at a time when the communist movement was meandering in the post-Joseph Stalin USSR and the ideological divergence between Mao Zedong’s China and Nikita Khrushchev’s Soviet Union was widening by the day. Ironically, Castro’s death has come at another important historical juncture—as the world is entering 2017, the 100th year anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution which brought Vladimir Lenin to power in … [Read more...] about Why Fidel Castro’s communism failed
The credibility of election results is of utmost importance. That, all can and do agree with. However, listening to the arguments during the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearing held on March 23, 2016, one sees that it seems that there are very few people who truly understand how to make elections credible. Comelec, Smartmatic, and most of the politicians present seemed to be interested only in resolving the issues in order to get them out of the way–not necessarily to make our elections more credible. Almost three hours were spent discussing the problems Comelec faces because of the “receipt” issue (VVPAT, or Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail). For example, much time was spent by Comelec in explaining why the printing of the “receipts” could not be done without going through the display verification routine first, thus doubling the time the voter spends in front of the machine. Comelec further explained that if they disabled this … [Read more...] about Few understand how to make our elections credible
The surprising result of the US 2016 election awoke many Americans to a fact they’d rather not acknowledge: The US is under attack from foreign nations armed with weaponized information. Indeed, the US’s top spy agencies all credit Russia with hacking the Democratic National Convention’s email servers, and subsequently leaking information that helped to sway the election. But from the Russian point of view, the US cast the first stone, and Russia’s attempts to influence the US and other countries amounts to little more than an active defense. According to Dr. Ken Geers of cybersecurity firm Comodo, Russia has long been a powerhouse of information warfare, and it’s “something we haven’t gotten our heads around” in the West. US spy agencies since World War II “knew all about the Russia problem,” said Geers, who has worked with NATO and the NSA, told Business Insider. Russians are good at math, operational … [Read more...] about How the US and Russia are fighting an information war — and why the US is losing
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island recently spoke with Business Insider while promoting his newly released book, “Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy.” Whitehouse is a fierce critic of the role that money plays in politics in a post-Citizens United America. Elected in 2006, Whitehouse is the ranking member of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election. Business Insider discussed a number of topics with Whitehouse, including the lessons learned from President Donald Trump’s election, what the Democrats must sell to voters to win in 2018 and 2020, and the continually evolving role of money in politics. This interview has been edited for clarity. Allan Smith: How has corporate influence harmed the Democratic Party specifically? Sheldon Whitehouse: It rather specifically kept us from getting a majority in the Senate in … [Read more...] about A top Democratic senator opens up on why Hillary lost, how Democrats can counter Trump, and why the Russia investigation is just getting started