"Any call for a people's initiative towards systemic change should emanate from individual reflection, introspection, and transformation."
The Philippines has witnessed several revolutions in its rich and storied history, from the early revolts launched by the likes of Tamblot, Sumuroy and Dagohoy against the Spanish Occupation up until the peaceful People Power Revolutions led by an enlightened citizenry. Today, the threat of external invasion is no longer the main problem. The country is no longer enslaved by other races or by regimes. However, the Philippines today is a product of the doing and undoing of its own citizens- of Filipinos.
Filipinos have largely been dependent on their government for the improvement in their lives. While it is true that the government plays a critical role in ensuring that basic services are unhampered, productive jobs are available, and support systems are in place, individual responsibility is an equally critical component for the development of any nation.
As individuals, we are given the privilege and responsibility to elect our leaders through our right to suffrage, to push for necessary policies, programs and projects through our representatives both at the national and local levels and other participatory mechanisms, and to peacefully assemble when elected officials are perceived to be abusing or exceeding their authority to favor a select few in society. In fact, the sense of individual responsibility bestowed upon each of us may be the only effective weapon we have against the abuse of government power.
Today, however, it is unfortunate that only a few people maintain a strong sense of individual responsibility for their own words and actions. While the avenues for political participation have expanded with the emergence of social media, the opportunities for political deception have also increased. As a result, many decisions of great national importance have been compromised due to a lack of individual discernment.
Part of individual responsibility is self-restraint. Self-restraint is necessary to make societies harmonious, especially in a pluralistic country such as the Philippines with multiple ethnicities and religions. The lack of collective restraint in our country has given rise to the passage of new laws, meant mostly to answer for the failures of our citizens to comply with the basic laws of the land. Truth be told, our failure to exercise restraint and to discipline ourselves are the reasons why we sought a Rodrigo Duterte as President.
Today, we are entering a crucial phase in our young democracy. We have problematic institutions. We have crooked officials in both elective and appointive positions. We have a broken system. However, these do not excuse us, citizens, from accountability and responsibility for our country’s terrible state.
Any call for a people's initiative towards systemic change should emanate from individual reflection, introspection, and transformation. It calls for a revolution from within us, Filipinos. Unless we are able to recognize our faults and courses of action individually, the fruit of any revolution will only be at face value. The same problems will persist and the same faces will be in office.
Thus, I call on each and every Filipino to protest against our own faults and misgivings to our country. This is a revolution that we must first launch within ourselves!