Becoming and being

As we become in the era of Duterte, we change and that makes things permanent, long term and, hopefully, a better Philippines. Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” And change makes things, communities and nations better.

Note: This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on January 14, 2020.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte promised many things during the campaign. The many became challenges, and those realized four years after were opportunities. Two major campaign promises — illegal drugs and federalism — are challenges because the data set or baselines were not established and the goal not measurable. And that’s the thing with campaign promises made during the campaign period. They are not well thought out — essentially, just promises. And that is why transition from day one to hundred days after, as well as six months after, is critical. A team should be formed to put measurements to promises so that one can say if the same have been fulfilled and have caused improvements in the lives of voters.

The battle against illegal drugs is not just a supply-demand equation. Multi-points in viewing the war against illegal drugs are aplenty: rehabilitation, police operations, health issues, institutional, money laundering, community action, etc. To lump them together as “authorities were able to recover only 1 percent of the total shabu being consumed nationwide and were only able to seize just 1 percent of the dirty drug money being circulated across the country,” is a very simplistic way of looking at it. Still, without the baseline data and the data of four years, no one can truly say if we have made a dent save for anecdotal evidence.

On federal-parliament, it is not clear what PRRD wants and the direction he sees in how to achieve it. He blasted strongly at the start with the threat of enforcing a revolutionary government, but this has faltered since. If there is no revision or even just an amendment of the constitution, 10 years would have passed without much political reform, instituted. The six years of Aquino 3rd saw no political reform while the four years of Duterte had only the BARMM or the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. But if tandem voting will be pursued, there would be a need to revise the Constitution. If the economy will be further opened, the next step to sustain economic changes, we will need to have an amendment of the Constitution. Either way, time is passing by and the Duterte puzzle pieces need to fit the game plan of the six years and institute the changes in law, such as the effort to put together a 30-year infrastructure master plan law creating a national policy and setting aside a minimum of 5 percent of GDP or gross domestic product expenditure per annum.

We need permanent changes, things that cannot be altered by the change in the occupant by the Pasig River. We need to continue with the gains of the four years and further push these to the next 12 years. A Greek philosopher by the name of Heraclitus talked about the philosophy of change that is commonly called “becoming” and can be seen in a “dialectical relationship and contrasted with Parmenides’ concept of being.” Becoming is the “possibility of change in a thing that has being, that exists.” Parmenides, on the other hand, talked about “being.” Parmenides believed that the change or “becoming” we perceive with our senses is deceptive, and that there is a pure perfect and eternal being behind nature, which is the ultimate truth of being. This point was made by Parmenides with the famous quote “What is is.” Becoming, along with its antithesis of being, is one of the foundation concepts in ontology. Ontology is the “concept that directly relates to being, in particular becoming, existence, realities, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.”

Heraclitus is a “philosopher of Ephesus who was active around 500 BCE; Heraclitus propounded a distinctive theory that he expressed in oracular language. He is best known for his doctrines that things are constantly changing (universal flux), that opposites coincide (unity of opposites) and that fire is the basic material of the world. The exact interpretation of these doctrines is controversial, as is the inference often drawn from this theory that in the world as Heraclitus conceives it, contradictory propositions must be true.”

As we become in the era of Duterte, we change and that makes things permanent, long term and, hopefully, a better Philippines. Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” And change makes things, communities and nations better.

The eruption of Taal Volcano came like a thief in the night, but it has always been monitored. As an archipelago and a nation that straddles the line of fire, we remain resilient. We care more and lower our guard to help. Some enterprising merchants want to earn a fast buck from the disaster. Still, such annoyances are limited considering the outpouring of the vaunted bayanihan spirit. The local governments moved on their own, and PRRD was insistent and did an aerial view of Taal. And of course, there are individuals who think politics every step of the way by reckless comments that do not do much to alleviate the situation.

From becoming to what is is, the change that is Duterte will be better for the nation and, hopefully, the two remaining years can add more to the gains. The more permanent changes are, the better for it to remain long as the mayor from Davao marches to the sunset and turns the reins of power to a tandem ready to work for nation first!

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About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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