Limits of politics: What the private sector must do

ariel-nepmucenoWHEN our political system fails to cure the ills plaguing our society for generations, and when the government is held hostage by the difficulties of our dysfunctional democracy, the private sector has no other choice but to become resilient and come to the rescue of our country.

We must accept the fact that, for the last 100 years of our independence, we have not succeeded in making our country strong enough to be among the best in Southeast Asia in terms of sustained economic progress and social stability. We are dwarfed by the achievements of our neighbors, like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. We could even hardly recall and believe that we once ranked second only to Japan in the 1960s. Now, even Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia seem to outpace us.

We must accept the reality that, in the coming decades, poverty and corruption will keep haunting us, since our political system is not capable of quickly paving the way for the solutions that we urgently need. Meanwhile, our neighbors are resolutely focused on strengthening their capabilities and competitiveness.

Challenge to business groups

PARAMOUNT to our country’s survival and progress is the patriotic response of our business organizations to relentlessly pursue excellence in the field of wealth creation. They must learn how to virtually ignore the limits of our political system. The frustration and desperation they feel in response to the endless scandals, investigations and prolonged political battles must not derail their expansion plans.

While they lobby for adjustments in some of the economic policies of the government, and while they risk their corporate interest when they openly advocate for the end of the corruption that victimizes them, those in the business sector must simultaneously become successful in terms of stability, growth and the employment they create.

Our business groups must also believe and strive in becoming global leaders. That is their historic obligation.

Role of civil society

THE government must always be sensitive and responsive to the criticisms and clamor of the community. However, we must not cease from organizing ourselves when the government callously ignores our dilemma and aspirations. On the contrary, when the government is alienated from our needs, it becomes even more important that we are organized and proactive.

Civil society must address our common interests. It must ensure that, in the absence of a political system that efficiently delivers the services and programs that uplift our people’s welfare, it must maintain our core values and aspirations.

In debates, discourses or even clashes, where the battle lines are clearly drawn between what is morally right and wrong, we must throw our full support behind the heroes and the advocates of integrity and honesty. We must rally behind those who valiantly fight for the welfare of our country. We must not allow the enemies of reforms, who prefer corruption to continue to thrive in our government agencies and ruin the efforts of the few good men who oppose the usual schemes of betraying our people, to succeed.

We cannot replace or duplicate the fundamental functions of the government, but we also cannot afford to wait in vain until the government becomes available for the delivery of our most basic needs. Civil society has already proven its contribution to our quest for real change. It must continue with its selfless and occasionally risky social campaigns, especially when the government appears complacent.

The mandate of our intellectuals

A SOCIETY that has ceased to define its dreams is destined to fail. We are entitled to list our best objectives, and we are obliged to design the framework for our success and strategic vision as a society.

The intellectuals who are capable of providing the blueprint for our success must ensure that our road map gives premium to our country’s best interest. They must provide us the tools to influence the leaders of our government. The strength of our civil society is only as good as the vision impressed on our national consciousness. We must know for sure where we want to bring our nation.

Those who are capable of dreaming for our people must use all available avenues to advocate reforms, and plan on how to improve the lives of Filipinos and make them proud of our collective achievements. Our intellectuals and dreamers must join academe, research institutions, the media, civic organizations and government agencies, and help build our vision for the country.

The apparent weakness of our political system must not be the end of our road. We must accept our historic duty to always move forward when all else seem to have failed. The role and power of the private sector is deeply engraved in our history.


Ariel Nepomuceno is the deputy commissioner for the Enforcement Group of the Bureau of Customs.


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