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The Philippines as a

democracy in progress
(Understanding civic

The pork barrel scam: when defining

the problem is part of the problem



Those who were not in the


The politician as provider

The politician as provider

Hardware (governance issues)

software (problems of citizenship)

One hundred years

(of formal democracy)

Sultans, rajahs, datus

Rizals insight

An immoral government is matched by

a people without morals; an
administration without conscience,
by grasping and slavish townsmen

Culture talk: When analysis

results in paralysis
The concept is vague and static
As total "way of life" --- gives the
illusion of permanence
Values education programs:
exercises in futility

Paradigm shift
We need to put on new lenses --- so we
can begin seeing the problem in a new
Stop the culture talk
focus on key "actionable" elements:
knowledge and skills, habits and
"practice makes perfect"

The new paradigm

A case in point

The absence of a public sphere

Our incapacity to:
Situate ourselves within a larger
society --- beyond friends and family;
Imagine a society of anonymous
Think of and act for the interest of an
abstract public

The absence of a public

Making sense of public life:
the habitual extension of the ethos of
intimacy to the larger society of
anonymous others
Our preference for private solutions
to obviously public problems

Implications for politics

Incapable of addressing public issues
as public issues;
People not likely to treat elections, or
any other democratic exercise, as
opportunities for discerning the
common good;
Candidates are routinely seen in
personal terms

Traditional politics
People are seized by the overpowering
charisma of would-be saviors;
Seduced by the glamour of celebrities;
Drawn into the patronage networks
operated by cynical machine politicians
Failure of governance

Our goal
Acquire the appropriate ethical software
to make our institutions work as
The software: Citizenship;
Citizenship = participation (versus mere
Participation: Situating ourselves within
the larger society of anonymous others;
Knowledge, skills, habits, dispositions

Bringing it all together:

Ultimately, it is based on the mental habit of
recognizing common interests and choosing to look
for collective rather than individual benefits (Cox
1995, online, 5/7). In everyday life, this would mean
activities that bring about an enlarged interest, a
wider human sympathy, a sense of active
responsibility for oneself, the skills needed to work
with others toward goods that can only be obtained
through collective action, and the powers of
sympathetic understanding needed to build bridges
of persuasive words to those with whom one must
act (Galston on Tocqueville and Mill, 2004).

Where we stand: The Philippines is not

a failed democracy
The Philippines is not a failed democracy, it is
rather a democracy in the making, a work in
Filipinos can take comfort in --- and be inspired --by the fact that the mature democracies existing
today are the painstaking work of several
There may be a lack of fit between the ethical
demands of republican institutions and our political
culture, but this is a reason to change culture, not
to lose heart and slide into autocratic rule

Our strategy
Identify or create everyday
opportunities where people may
learn to ride the bicycle of
Because practice makes perfect

Example 1
Would not requiring people to
REGULARLY clean their places of
work (and not just their homes) make
them better custodians of the public

Example 2
Would not creating REGULAR
opportunities for people to DIRECTLY
help determine local government
projects make them better
stakeholders of their communities?

Example 3
Would not giving young people
opportunities to IDENTIFY community
problems and PROPOSE REAL
SOLUTIONS to these problems help
them become real citizens?


If Philippine democracy is a work in
progress, what about democracy in other
countries (for example, in Southeast
Asia)? In what respect can we also see
other Asian (or Southeast Asian)
democracies as works in progress? What
challenges are these democracies facing
or have faced? How similar or different
are the experiences of these other Asian
(or Southeast Asian) countries?

Maraming salamat!