Maaalalang may duda si Jose Rizal sa kakayanan ng mga Pilipino na pamunuan ang sarili. Kinondena niya ang rebolusyon ng Katipunan bilang pagtatapon lamang ng buhay dahil duda siyang magawa mang palayain ng rebolusyon ang Pilipinas at makamit ang kasarinlan, hindi pa handa ang sinumang maupo na mamumuno para pamunuan ang Pilipinas sa tipo ng pamamahala na kumikilala sa mga karapatan ng mga mamamayang Pilipino.
Maaaring nakikinita ni Jose Rizal na sa pagkakataong magtagumpay nga ang rebolusyon ay papalitan lamang ng mga ilustradong Pilipino ang pananamantala ng mga Kastila. Walang tiwala si Jose Rizal sa kapwa niya ilustrado ng kanyang panahon sa kahandaan nilang inintihin ang mga dapat na layon ng pamahalaan natatakot siyang lamunin ng kapalaluan ng kapangyarihan ang mga ito at malimot na ang mga adhika.
Tunay ngang may batayan ang kanyang mga alinlangan dahil nauwi sa patayan sa sariling hanay ang himagsikan. Pinatotohanan ito sa pulong sa Tejeros na ikinasanhi ng kamatayan ni Andres Bonifacio, Antonio Luna at iba pang mga Pilipino sa kamay ng kapwa Pilipino.
Ang ganito ka ganid na kalakaran ay patuloy na katotohanan sa demokrasya magpahanggang sa kasalukuyan. Makalipas ang mahigit isandaang taon mula ng lumaya ang Pilipinas sa mga Kastila, pinatunayan ng pamamahala ng iilan sa kapangyarihan ang mga alinlangan ni Jose Rizal.
Demokrasya nga kung ituring dahil sa regular na eleksiyon ngunit ang katotohanan ay pinamahalaan ang Pilipinas ng iilang mayayaman at makapangyarihan para rin lamang sa mga interes ng iilan.
Ano ang palagay mo?
Ano kaya ang karapat dapat na gagawin upang matigil na ang kahibangan na ito at mapatunayan natin kay Jose Rizal na namulat na tayo sa ating mga pagkukulang at handa na tayong pangatawanan ang hamon na noon ay hindi sya naniniwalang kaya nating panindigan.
Paradoxically, since the ouster of the Spanish colonial regime, Philippine democracy has been merely a legitimizing mechanism for oligarchic rule.
For purposes of analytic clarity, democracy literally means “rule by the people”, or rule with the consent of the governed. Oligarchy literally means “rule by the few”. Oligarchy can be in the form of aristocracy, which is “rule of the best and the brightest”, or plutocracy, which is “rule by the rich”.
In Philippine context, consent through elections means that a consensus has been reached as regards which among competing elites shall be conferred the legitimate power to plunder the nation within a limited number of years.
This conundrum can be traced back to the Spanish colonial regime where the purpose of governance was clearly to systematically plunder the Philippine colony in order to secure economic development for the Crown. Spanish mercantilism was designed to maximize the Crown’s extraction from its colonies at considerable cost to economic development of the empire.
Independence did not free the Philippines from the colonial culture of plunder in governance. It only spurred the competition among elites for power vacated by the Spanish colonial regime. Perhaps this was the rationale why Jose Rizal did not advocate for independence. Instead, consistent with the liberal ideals, he fought for human rights through democratic reforms by demanding representation and accountability.
Our democracy is an elected oligarchy. Our formal democratic institutions do not guarantee democracy. Our congresses have been perpetual repetitions of the tragedy of Tejeros convention of 1897 where elites maneuver each other out of power, which cost the lives of Andres Bonifacio, Antonio Luna and the noble ends of the Katipunan. Even our “people power”, as a mechanism of accountability, is now suspect. After it has not delivered on its promises, it is reduced into an apparatus of disgruntled elites to claim lost power.
In the wake of the scandals that haunt the Arroyo administration, as a people, we are forced to reexamine our beliefs regarding the legitimate ends of democratic governance.
Democracy is essentially an affirmation of the sovereignty of the people as a collective of dignified human beings with rights. That is, the people are not things or mere means to an end. Ideally, a democratic government is an agency established to guarantee that the people have all the freedoms possible and the capacities to live the life that they have reasons to value. By representation, democracy demands that the people have the power to decide which among competing policies best serve their interests and to hold accountable those who misrepresent them.
Until this colonial culture of plunder in governance is effectively dismantled, willful corruption through our democratic decision-making procedures cannot be averted. Elites will continue to violate human rights by creating opportunities to convert public goods into private gain.
Unless we reorient our culture of governance by grounding it on the democratic imperative to respect, protect and provide for human rights, we shamefully dignify the doubts that bothered Jose Rizal more than a century ago.