JESUS  C.  SISON:  ENTER  THE  'REFORM  SOCIETY'?

MANILA,  July 13, 2004
(MALAYA) by  JESUS  SISON - 
'While local governments may boast of providing new jobs, the untold story is that they also create joblessness in the process.'

I WONDER what the new government of President Arroyo will be called. "Strong Republic" served its purpose in proppelling the President to a six-year term. She will need another call name considering the challenges facing the the Republic in the years ahead. The present government is riddled by problems. Radically, however, both government and people need to be reformed. How about calling the next six years "Reform Society"? I am almost sure President Arroyo would consider the shift of the parliamentary system as the biggest legacy of her administration. That's why she's advocating it.

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Politics is a never-ending cycle. Now that newly elected local executives have assumed office, the report is that the casuals are being displaced by appointees of incumbents. Casuals are the easy victims in this local rigodon because they don't have security of tenure. While local governments may boast of providing new jobs, the untold story is that they also create joblessness in the process.

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People have begun to read the position of President Arroyo on Charter change. The public well recalls her campaign promise to be a transition president to a new system of government. Of course this does not necessarily mean her stepping down, but merely assuming another role, possibly as prime minister, in the parliamentary government that may be set up by 2007. But at this point, everything is speculative. We have to wait for signs to show that the administration is resolute in its intent to give the country a new system of government.

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One of the official problems the country faces is the need for low-cost and efficient energy. This calls for immediate attention lest we go back to the black days during the initial year of the Ramos regime. In a masterly stroke, then President Ramos solved the problem through a concentrated effort of legislation, BOT arrangements with power distributors. Long-term alternative power generation inclusive of the Malampaya gas resource we now have.

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The resurgence of the power problem is due to projected power requirements of an ever growing population and industrial expansion. The latest announcement from Energy Secretary Vince Perez to fast-track the privatization of Napocor is a good move. This will mean less public and more private sector participation in the generation of power.

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The copyright law is presently a hot topic discussed in conferences abroad (Taiwan, Germany, Singapore and the US). There is a trend which seeks to justify unauthorized reproductions of intellectual products for the reason that it stimulates market activities. A concrete example is the pirating of Hollywood movies and video materials which has allegedly created a high consumer appetite in the Asian market. The logic is, if pirating opens more markets , it must be good.

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Video lovers can buy Hollywood movies from VCD, DVE, CD street hawkers in Manila. Mind you the copies are flawless in terms of technical quality. "Galing sa Taiwan," buyers are told. Of course, the situation is unjust to the original artists and producers. But the widening of market means pirating has also improved the legitimate outlets intellectual property owners benefit from. But we know the old school thought insists: piracy is outright theft and violation of property rights.

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A moral recovery program for a new government may not mean much considering that our people have material needs more than those that relate to mores and virtues. For those who saw the recent Spider Man 2 flick, we find the empty shell of a young man played by Tobey Maguire who decided to abandon his Marvel Hero role in order to attend to his own life and identity. All of us are like Tobey attending to ourselves at the expense of the nation.

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Our Spider Man soon realized that there was a demand for heroes in a society beset by criminalities and other forms of injustices and abuse. We also need to make heroes of ourselves. Only an effective moral recovery program can bring us to our senses to be patriots and katipuneros (about 40,000 of them when the armed revolution erupted), or else we will continue to slide down as Asia's basket case.

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Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle admits a decline among the youths who are interested in entering the priesthood. He lamented that "the environment creates circumstances that makes a person less receptive to (the priest's) kind of life." Looking back, the best and the brightest boys become priests. Frs. Gomez, Burgos and Zamora were the cream of the Filipino youth.

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The 60s and 70s were the peak years in which seminaries swelled with candidates. The establishment of the rival Iglesia Filipina Independiente (or Aglipayan Church) speeded up the indigenization of the Filipino hierarchy such that after the first Filipino bishop was consecrated in 1906, there were in 1965 18 Filipino bishops, about 2,000 native priests and 349 Filipinos enrolled in 27 religious orders (including Orders of Frayles). Today, all archdioceses and dioceses are headed by Filipino bishops; superior generals or religious provincials are Filipinos. Indeed we have come a long way in establishing an all Filipino Roman hierarchy and clergy.

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Sex scandals are peripheral to the more radical problems that surround the Catholic priesthood. Bishop Tagle may have hit it on the nail by pointing at the "environment." As we see it, the youths are more sexually liberated given the Internet, media and modern lifestyle. Celibacy has become an anachronism. If the Church insists on compulsory celibacy, then the laity may take over priestly functions, much the same way that lay people and nuns now give communion and conduct Bible services. Priests are a vanishing tribe.

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How about a "culture of biking?" As early as 2002 then Marikina City Mayor Bayani Fernando set up a Bikesway Office which promoted biking as an alternative transportation for intracity trips. Inaugurated a year after on February 2002 was an 18-km cycling route in addition to bicycle parking facilities. The route is continually being extended so that if can reach the 68 km cycling lane that has been planned. In other Asian counties like Vietnam and China, bicycles and other non-motorized transport is preferred. Given the fare hike which now makes commuting more expensive, the culture of biking may just find its day.

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More trees mean healthier ecosystem, it's good to hear from DENR Secretary Elisea Gozun that the country's forests have expanded from 5.4 million hectares in 1985 to 7.2 hectares, based on satellite imaging taken in 2002. Gozun said several factors contributed to this development, among them being increased public awareness, massive tree planting by public and private environmental groups, as well as the capacity of trees to regenerate when they are not touched for a long time.

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In the early 1900s when the Americans occupied the country, our total forested land area was 30 million hectares. We are therefore on an uphill climb in trying to recover our lost forests prodding all Filipinos to commit themselves to environmental responsibility to improve our forest cover. Outside the June Arbor month, let's plant trees, ornamentals, herbal plants, vegetables in pots, etc. Let's create a Green Year.

Email address: jesssison_2000@yahoo.com


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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