It is safe to assume that majority of Filipinos would still prefer our country in its present form – a free democratic country, even if some are openly wishing to put an end to the vicious cycle of politicians milking our national coffers dry for their selfish ends. That being the case, it behooves upon everyone to painstakingly safeguard our freedoms and keep the flame of liberty burning even if we are so pissed off with the drawbacks of a rowdy democracy. The best way to keep this state is to keep the authorities in check via a vigilant citizenry and a lively opposition.
This opposition does not just refer to that shadow alternative government sowing havoc and intrigues just so they can wrest control from the ruling party but also from all parts of the political spectrum expressing their general opposition to whatever the administration is doing or saying. Everyone should be on the lookout for the excesses, omission or mistakes of those in power. Everyone expects and enjoys free expression and can comment, complain and make outright criticisms and rants in the social or in mainstream media. The free exchange of ideas ensures that no one has the monopoly of good intentions and plans for the country. The ruling party may even pick up good and implementable ideas from the crowd and execute them for the benefit of the entire country. Anyway, all the good things that happen during the term of the ruling party are to the credit of the president regardless of who thought of the idea first.
The Opposition’s main and the most important role is to question the government and hold them accountable to the public. Any Government has to remain accountable or answerable to the public at all times and a good Opposition can put the spotlight on serious issues and have them resolved quickly. People in power must realize that they are not in position by divine right but that they were placed there by the voting citizenry as servant leaders. They are not there to rule but to serve.
There are several kinds of opposition. A constructive opposition emphasizes more on discussion, ask questions, resolution of problems being faced and help in amendments and passage of important bills. At the same time, they warn or bring in focus issues that government is not addressing effectively at its level.
Whenever the ruling party proposes a bill for discussion, it is necessary to have discussion from all the possible angles. The opposition brings to the notice of the government all the possible alternatives and suggests corrections in the bill for discussions and finally supports the government in case special majority is required. It is unthinkable not to have opposition in legislation. If everybody agrees on something, it is likely to be wrong.
A disruptive opposition is another – one that opposes everything for the sake of opposing. It is not good for democracy. Nothing is right for this group.
Nowadays, social media helps the opposition. Social media makes it possible for ordinary people to communicate directly with public servants. Anyone can post anything about everything around them. It is their easy platform to say their piece. Everyone now is effectively a media outfit since a mere post or comment can reach countless audience whereas before, you have to publish your work before others could even hear or read it. A wise administration can then monitor the netizens’ comments so that they can always know the pulse of its citizens.
A strong opposition complements democracy even if it exacts endless patience and civility for those in power. In the event of a weak opposition, ruling government may become complacent and insensitive for the duration of their rule. Impunity may take over as the authorities feel they have the monopoly of power. This feeling corrupts and brings in a number of abuses. It also results in a lackadaisical performance of their duties. Without an effective opposition the government of the day, becomes dictatorial and unaccountable and could pass laws which favor a selected few or a particular tribe or group.
The worst that could happen is the possibility of having a government that is run by a tyrant, a high-handed dictator or a revolutionary leader whose power is unlimited. Plato the Greek philosopher, predicted in his work “The Republic” that governments would go from: Aristocracy – rule of the capable and virtuous; to Timocracy – rule of the famous who love to be honored; to Oligarchy – rule by a cliché of insiders; and to Democracy – rule by the people. But a democracy without virtue and self-control ends in chaos; out of which a Tyrant would arise.
Jim Powell in his article “How Dictators Come To Power In A Democracy” in The Forbes also enumerated the following lessons and observations:
- Germany may have the highest educational system during the 19th century but it seemed that the level of education alone would not prevent tyrants from sprouting.
- Bad economic policies and foreign policies can cause crises that have dangerous political consequences.
- Politicians commonly demand arbitrary power to deal with a national emergency and restore order, even though underlying problems are commonly caused by bad government policies.
- In hard times, many people are often willing to go along with and support terrible things that would be unthinkable in good times.
- Aspiring dictators sometimes give away their intentions by their evident desire to destroy opponents.
- A political system with a separation of powers and checks & balances does make it more difficult for one branch of government to dominate the others.
- Ultimately, liberty can be protected only if people care enough to fight for it, because everywhere governments push for more power, and they never give it up willingly.
Curiously, people are now getting a bit jittery on what the future holds. It pays to take heed with what is happening in the US which also has just elected its new President. Suddenly people are curious of what George Orwell wrote in his novel “1984”. Orwell’s name has become a common word in modern vocabulary– just like the words Marcosian and Machiavellian, describing a situation, idea or societal condition that can be destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It denotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the “unperson”—a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments. ” (Wikipedia)
For the good of everyone then and as a matter of prudence for our President, it is better to encourage opposition and listen to whatever they are saying while he still enjoys tremendous popularity and immunity and has the chance and means to correct what otherwise could be grounds for serious legal suits once he is out of power. The trend that former Presidents get jailed has been set in the case of the previous two and there could be a third if the inertia gets underway. If the present administration stifles dissent or complaint, it could only build the pressure leading to cases to be filed later. I am pretty sure they have no intention at all of figuring out how to break the trend by reading Plato or George Orwell too.