A Reflection On Our Reform Work and the Current

A Reflection On Our Reform Work and the Current
Political Crisis
Joy Aceron

I am sure we in the governance and reform movements
are now having difficulty focusing on our “projects”
given what’s happening in the country. We do
development and reform work with the hope that it
could somehow improve the condition of our people.
Meanwhile, the government loses millions of pesos to
unscrupulous deals entered into by politicians who do
not even have the mandate to be meddling with the
negotiations in the first place (e.g. What the hell
was the COMELEC Chair doing in an ICT contract
negotiations? !). We toil everyday to prepare documents
and reports, develop ideas and proposals, organize and
conduct meetings, conferences and forums, while
politicians in golf courses discuss how they can get
billions of kickbacks from loans which we and our
children will pay.

Unbelievably outrageous! This formula of governance
does not even cancel out! It’s always negative for us
and our country! It’s like Alien vs. Predator.
“Whoever wins, we lose.” We already feel abused as it
is—overworked and underpaid. It is as if we were just
given enough ropes to hang ourselves. Working in the
private sector seems to be a better option in times
like this. At least there are no pretensions that they
are working for reforms and development. We, on the
other hand, opted to work in civic organizations,
academic institutions, development NGOs and probably
some in the bureaucracy because we believe that we
could make a difference here. Or so we thought.

What’s more infuriating is the very apparent efforts
to suppress the truth! It seems getting the real score
behind the NBN-ZTE deal is impossible. Truth-telling
is supposed to be the norm; but with what is
happening, it is becoming extra-ordinary and
spectacular. Secretary Romulo Neri remarked when he
was pursued by protesters: “the truth is deeper than
what you think.” Does Secretary Neri mean only people
with powers ala Hiro Nakamura should know the truth
because he thinks ordinary humans like you and I
cannot handle it?

Those in power owe it to the people to tell the truth
or at least facilitate the search for the truth by
bringing out the facts, no matter how difficult and
painful the process could be. They owe this most
especially to those who work day and night for this
country, still serving and loving this country even if
it doesn’t seem to love them back.

Fortunately, “lies do not only quarrel with the truth,
they quarrel among themselves.” But for the truth to
prevail, people have to stand up for it and “speak
truth to power.” I see Lozada’s exposè and the support
he is getting as a stand for truth and a struggle for
this country to move forward in nation-building. All
the service that we render to our country and to our
people are meaningless if we do not stand up for the
truth. We must know the truth because we owe it to
ourselves.

Though difficult, we must strive hard to stay the
course of taking the little steps towards reform and
development. Given our country’s precarious condition,
we simply cannot afford to leave it behind. There is
always the need to balance the political actions that
are required from us while painstakingly continuing
our little steps (the never-ending technical,
administrative and partnership tasks) on governance
work to build on reforms and development. This is a
challenging predicament—a difficult balancing act that
we are forced to do because the so-called leaders of
this country are in business of betraying the public
trust whenever they can.

If the reform-minded become oblivious of their work
and give in totally to outrage, we might totally lose
the small victories (such as the best practices,
governance models, policy and bureaucratic reforms)
that we, and the generation of reform workers before
us, worked so hard for. We may fail to build on those
little victories, which hopefully will at the very
least contribute in preventing the same crisis we now
face from happening again. At the same time, we should
be ready to respond to and join the more radical and
broader actions that could unfold because not doing so
is a disservice to what we work for every single day.
Governance and reform work on the one hand and the
protest actions and “political” involvements one the
other hand must be viewed as a continuum and not a
divide that we tread as the need arises.

All of these multi-faceted approaches and actions that
we take will hopefully come together in the future to
bring about the fundamental and structural changes in
the country’s politics and governance that we so
desire. Hopefully, one day we’ll wake up and say, “The
gradual changes we painstakingly labor on have given
birth to this new world.” It requires a big amount of
faith and just as much hard work. It’s something we
personally and collectively deal with every single day
because while we hope for the best in continuing our
reform work, the fact remains that “a country of
victims cannot afford to be patient.”

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