With the national elections being some nine months away, the noise level of political chatter is slowly but surely percolating once again. Indeed, election fever is arising. For the Filipinos, the year 2022 portends a breath of fresh air for a nation that has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the election fever arising quite earlier than expected, social media is nonetheless abuzz with speculations on who would be the possible contenders for the presidential race. Unsurprisingly, the ruling party is already sending out feelers in social media on its prospective presidential and senatorial endorsees. Obviously, the mandate is pointing to a nominee successor, who is the direct kin of the incumbent President.
A Left Field Contender
Interestingly, amidst such media murmurings, a left-field contender openly declares his intention to run as a presidential candidate. Whilst considered as a political newbie, the man possesses an extraordinarily high EQ, which could turn into a groundswell. Could this be the tipping point that would rise to the challenge of lifting the Filipino people out of its dire straits?
For some political pundits, a regime change would be a welcome development. For the longest time, Philippine politics has been marked by popular votes and dynastic rule. Sadly, the political parties leave much to be desired in espousing ideological agendas. Partisan politics continues to dominate the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Presently, the political milieu still favors political patronage rather than politics based on ethical principles.
Aspirants for the Elections
In his classic book, The Way, St. Josemaria Escriva has this to say, as a reminder, to those politicians aspiring for the next elections:
You have, as they say,”the gift of gab”. But in spite of all your talk, you can’t get me to justify – by calling it “providential” – what has no justification.St. Josemaria escriva, The Way, 37
Harsh as it may be, the words of St. Josemaria are meant to drive home a point, that is, the importance of practicing the virtue of sincerity. This takes on a special significance especially when the politicians embark on the campaign trail. Normally, those aspiring for government election spend much time promising voters the “sun, moon, and the stars”. This is tantamount to “starting on the wrong foot”. On the contrary, it makes good sense to “say what you mean and mean what you say”.
An Agenda for an Integral Ecology
Speaking about political agendas, one of the most paramount reforms needed in government policy is that of the environment. According to Germanwatch.org, the Philippines was ranked second in the Global Climate Risk Index 2020. Historically, the country has been regularly ravaged by extreme weather conditions in addition to natural catastrophes.
In crafting the political agenda on the environment, it may be good to take time out to consider the Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ written by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. In essence, it voices out the urgent appeal of the Pope to men and women of goodwill, including politicians as well, to get involved in the development of integral ecology.
“A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people’s quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth.”Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’, 194
To the aspiring politicians, the Holy Father exhorts you to set aside short-term legislations geared toward quick short-term gains. Rather, the Pope says further that “What is needed is a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and inter-disciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis. Often, politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies.” (LS, 197)
The Principle of the Common Good
The main driver for the development of an integral ecology hinges on the principle of the common good. By definition, the common good is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment”.[GS,26) Its primary object is directed towards the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity.
Furthermore, the common good calls for social peace. This refers to the stability and security provided by a certain order that promotes distributive justice. Whenever this is violated, violence always ensues. Society as a whole, and the state, in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good. (LS, no.157)
Finally, an extension of the common good is the notion that future generations are entitled to share in God’s gift to humankind. Hence, in pursuing a vision of integral ecology, the Holy Father emphatically states that “we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.”(LS, no.159)
In closing, it is my fervent hope that the contenders will launch their election campaign based on their respective visions of a better tomorrow underpinned by the principles of the common good, solidarity, and respect for the human dignity of the Filipino people.