The Call for Social Democracy

By Hadji Balahadja
Ateneo de Davao University

The NBN-ZTE controversy and the problematic testimony of "Jun" Lozada are actually the latest and relatively severe symptoms of the decay of a liberal democracy dominated by traditional politicians. They manifest the ripening of the evils of liberal democracy in a pre-existing situation of grave social inequality.


Liberal democracy, while theoretically promoting formal equality under the law, does not promote equal social power, so that the already powerful gain all the more power, because they have the economic and intellectual means and social connections to use the law to their own advantage.

Liberal democracy in the Philippines amounts to "elite politics:" the participation of and advantage to the economically wealthy and socially prominent families and individuals or their media allies.

In this dysfunctional liberal democratic dispensation, we now see laid bare before our eyes the ascendancy of arrogant and manipulative media at the service of vested interests.

We watch with horror at how prone traditional politicians are to ally with anti-democratic elements of the Marxist-Leninist extreme Left and the fascist extreme Right, for their own selfish agenda, at the cost of the lives and the bodily integrity of our soldiers, police officers, and patriotic public officials and ordinary citizens,

We grieve at the breakdown of our basic securities as a nation, i.e. defense, internal security, food, water, energy, and the environment.

We gaze with alarm at the decline in livelihood, education, health, security, peace and order, the increase of poverty in absolute terms, the sense of hopelessness of many of our people, after two People Power uprisings rendered useless by the nefarious ways of traditional politicians acting within the framework of liberal democracy.

It is indeed time for change. It is time for change to a society in which formal equality under the law is made life-giving by promotion of real equality in social power, so that all citizens can participate on equal terms in the burdens, benefits and governance of societal life.

It is time for a society with sufficient participation in if not control of governance by the majority of our nation, composed of the working masses of farmers, fisherfolk, industrial labor, small businesspersons and professionals, and ministers of the faith communities.

It is time for a society ably defended and nurtured by the pillars of democracy; democratic political and civic organizations and social movements, the Christian Churches, the Muslim community, the military, the police, academe, business, and responsible media.

It is time for a society whose leaders and citizens effectively safeguard and promote, with their lives, their honor, and their intellectual endowments and material possessions, our basic securities as a nation, i.e. defense, internal security, food, water, energy, environment.

It is time for a society that clearly and militantly combats anti-democratic elements by a spirit and with measures that are committed to human rights and international humanitarian law.

It is time for a society that is able to give its youth the means to achieve a happy and prosperous future. It is time for a society that cares equally for all its members.

It is time for social democracy. It is time for social democracy in the Philippines.

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