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Democracy in the Philippines. - some questions of a newly arrived friend -. I.

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Democracy in the Philippines

- some questions of a newly arrived friend -

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I.

Democracy in our huge countries and societies means representation of all people. How do Philippine people influence, who is representing them? Of course you have the right to vote. But who select the ones for whom you can vote? Do you have a possibility to influence the selection of these candidates – for example in the nomination processes of different political parties? If not, or not really, there is something wrong the system.

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II.

Democracy means participation of people in political decision making. Are you asking to participate somehow in decisions, for example on a fair tax system, on environmental policy or on the development of the public health system by the candidates for the major political decision making positions, the candidates for president, vice-president, senators, congressmen? Do they stand for such decisions and ask you to vote for them because you share their positions? If not, there is something wrong with the system.

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III.

Democracy means respect for human rights and the protection of the rights and interests of disadvantaged groups and minorities by a strong state. If somebody disturbs the interests of powerful or rich people in the Philippines, can she or he be sure to be protected by the state when they try to push her away or even kill her? If not there is something wrong with the system.

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IV.

Democracy means, the promotion of self-determination and freedom of each citizen. To ensure this the principle of subsidiarity has to be followed, which assigns as many as possible rights and powers and competences to the lowest level of society and administration – where the citizens have more direct participation – and obliges the respectively next higher level to support the lower level in using these rights. How do you see the distribution of rights, power and competences between Barangays, Municipalities, Cities, Provinces and the Central State in the Philippines? Does it follow the principle of subsidiarity? And do these lower levels of democratic government also have substantial parts of public revenues to enable them to honour their right and obligations? If not, there ise something wrong with the sytem.

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V.

Democracy means control of power, which first of all is control of executive power. If your president, governor or mayor misuses their power for their own private business or even for the violation of human rights of other citizens – can you be sur that they will be stopped bu the parliament or respective councils and by the courts? And can you be sure that theu will be forced to resign if they continue with their wrongdoings? If not, there is something wrong with the system.

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VI.

Democracy means equal value of each person and therefore equality of opportunities. Do people – for example – have the same opportunities to influence political decisions or to be selected as democratic representatives on national or local level? If not, if these opportunities are connected to weahlth and power and the connection to the so-called dynasties, there is something wrong with the system.

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VII.

Democracy will function only if leaders are elected with regard to their moral qualification, their competence and their qualification to take decisions. Are you ready to vote for the most qualified among candidates or will you give your votes to an idel, a dream, a name?

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VIII.

Participation in decision making – one of the constituting elements of democracy – needs people with sufficient level of information and understanding of the respective issues. Are you rady to spent enough time to colelct such informationa nd to develop opinion based on information? And do you resquest actively such information from your local media – radio stations, papers, TV – when you realize that they do not provide enough or only distorted information on important issues?

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IX.

Participation in democratic processes needs commitment. Are you ready to invest time and energy into your participation in the democratic processes, be it in form of control of the elected representatives, active participation in thematic decision making and personnel selection on political parties, readiness to take over yourself the role of a representative?

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X.

Democracy needs ethical standards of activists and leaders. It needs absolute willingness to respect the rules and laws, a minimum of fairness between political opponents and competitors and the readiness of leaders to serve first of all the people and the country – more than their personal interests. Are you ready to be an active democrat, with knowledge and competence, commitment and willingness to serve? Because democracy needs democrats