Force of Habit vs Force of Change

And so I take my cue from a political mentor and inspiration in saying “Institutions mold, influence and motivate behaviour.”

“My loyalty to my party ends, when my loyalty to my pocket begins”

In the next three months leading up to Philippine Midterm Elections, we will once again milk the politicians’ pockets. But in the next three years, they will milk our hard earned money.

Again, we will be blinded by our need to survive, more than our need to live. We will sell our conscience for meagre amounts, that we will regret, again sell, until it becomes a force of habit in our practice of politics as citizens.

This has been the sad reality in Philippine Politics for whatever timeframe you have in mind.

But even as this is common knowledge to everyone, I find it ironic that we continue to question why our country remains poor, underdeveloped and growth laggard.

While some are still in constant denial with these truths, I find it reasonable to make all of us accountable to these facts. We have silently resisted change and reform. We pay lip service to our role in change making but really know nothing else other than motherhood statements as solutions to our problems that any politician or influential personality can say. How can we then change it the right way if we often don’t know what to change and how to change?

Change making is not single pronged as many think it is. Changing the system or changing the people’s attitudes alone won’t cut the slack.

And so I take my cue from a political mentor and inspiration in saying “Institutions mold, influence and motivate behaviour.”

While behavioral reform is equally as it is inseparable from institutional reform, institutions and systems does most of the damage control when politicians or people tend to become overly abusive with their so-called rights and discretion.

Systemic change is something not a lot of people are comfortable talking about or even doing. This is because their convenience is sacrificed and the process of learning new ones often becomes taxing and exhausting. However, this change is more rewarding than that of the temporal changes that we have been accustomed to supporting for many years now.

The problem with the change that we’ve been so accustomed to supporting is that it tends to work for a limited and short amount of time only, for only a specific and particular purpose that lapse or fade through the course of a certain period. It tends to disregard most of the time consistency, stability and longevity.

On issues like the RH Bill and sin taxes for example, we tend to disregard the process and the system that brings up situations where resolutions tend to take forever, conclusions are not reached and no closures are arrived on issues that urgently need decisions because we are overly focused on the results and the results alone.

So what does this do? Without an orderly system, political actors, parties and personalities will tend to change minds like playboys or playgirls tend to change partners. What makes it worse is that this is not usually in the practice of the use of conscience, but more motivated by convenience and money. False to what they are called, representatives in this manner fail to standby convictions that take into account their grassroots moorings and the internal democracy in their respective parties.

In short, the power of the purse is most influential rather than the power of people. If there is pork barrel on one side and the other is threatened for non-release if they do not switch, politicians who are threatened will be forced and swayed by the power of the purse, not by the power of conscience.

These all happen because in reality, we have a system of money and power alone over a supposedly system of order in our society.

It is called patronage and it makes all of us submissive to the whims of the powerful and the wealthy, thus making us modern day slaves whether we like it or not.

Question: Why do bills/laws like the political party development act and proposals for charter change amendments take a back seat over other measures?

Are they less urgent? NO.

Are they misunderstood and made to be misunderstood? YES.

You just don’t blame legislators if quality bills that make the system orderly don’t get passed. We all have to make citizens accountable because they do not show the same amount of vigilance and aggressiveness as they do with temporal measures to pressure government to pass these quality or I feel, even more important legislation.

Bottomline: If we only think to get by and merely survive, then let’s throw away from our vocabulary the word growth and development because there is no way we’re going to achieve it if we stay with this current mindset.

We have to think in short, medium and long term. We want to have a good life, right? If you are always stressed everyday to find you can serve on a table, do you call that a good life?

If we want to achieve development, think beyond surviving. Let us embrace, imbibe and support change where institutions can properly govern politicians, politicians can properly govern people and people can properly govern their own.

There is no better way to change than to begin with the word “sacrifice.”

It is tough to break a force of habit, but the force to live is what should compel us to become forces of change.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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