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To VP Leni: Forget ‘Daang Matuwid,’ your slogan is more powerful

/ 11:52 PM June 27, 2016

To Vice President Robredo,

As you begin this important journey, I hope you consider one recommendation: Forget “Daang Matuwid.”

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Yes, it was a catchy slogan. It was even effective to some degree, projecting an image of an administration and a president determined to stamp out corruption at all levels.

But then that image fell apart.

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In the wake of scandals led by the DAP and Mamasapano fiascoes, that catchy slogan came to be perceived as a hypocritical battle cry, empty words of a president determined to wipe out corruption — except if it involved his closest allies.

Besides, ‘Daang Matuwid’ was a deeply flawed slogan in the first place. For one thing, as I noted in a previous column, it made the fight against corruption sound like a religious crusade.

And that was a bad idea. Fighting corruption is a political struggle. And in political struggles, the roads are rarely straight and clearly defined.

Often there are bumps, twists and turns. Sometimes you need to take sharp detours. Compromise, even retreat, may be necessary.

There’s a scene in the movie, “Lincoln,” in which the American president, played by Daniel Day Lewis, describes the use of a compass to explain the importance of flexibility in politics.

“It’ll point you True North from where you’re standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps and deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way,” Lincoln says. “If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead, heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to swing in a swamp, what’s the use of knowing True North?”

Lincoln, considered one of the greatest U.S. presidents, led the final push to end slavery in America, not by putting himself on a pedestal and preaching uncompromisingly about the evils of the despicable practice. He ended slavery by forming alliances, outmaneuvering and sometimes winning over foes through the power of his arguments — and sometimes through compromise.

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“Daang Matuwid” is an illusion. The path to meaningful social change is tortuous.

Many Filipinos who support you understand this. They understand that you may have to compromise as you try to lead the nation in this difficult time. What’s more important is affirming your vision for the future.

‘Daang Matuwid’ doesn’t do that. But your own slogan does.

In fact, your slogan is more powerful.

“Laban Kasama ang Laylayan ng Lipunan.”

“Struggle Together With the Marginalized in Society.”

It may not be as catchy as Aquino’s. But it captures the spirit of what needs to be done.

Now, you could have said: “Laban Para sa Laylayan ng Lipunan” — “Struggle For the Marginalized in Society.”

But you did not. You said “kasama” instead of “para sa.” And that is significant.

I can only speculate that the reasons are rooted in the kind of leadership you’ve already shown:

As a human rights lawyer who once defended struggling farmers of Sumilao;

As a progressive reformer who instinctively zeroed in on the plight of the Kidapawan protesters even if it meant breaking with a leader, already portrayed as a hacendero president, who appeared to blame the poor farmers for the bloody assault they endured;

As someone from the martial law generation, a Martial Law Baby, who rejects the idea of leaders as know-it-all saviors … and who understands that the struggle for change must be waged together with the weakest and most vulnerable in Philippine society.

“Kasama sila” is the right way to frame that slogan — because the strong and wise leader draws strength and guidance from the people she is supposed to lead and serve.

It’s not about rising above the people. It’s about moving forward with them so you can rise together.

***

Walang katiyakan ang mga susunod na taon.

Malinaw na ang bagong yugtong magsisimula ay kakaiba. Maraming magagandang pangako. Marami ring pangamba.

Kakaiba ang istilo ng bagong pangulo. Prangka daw, sabi ng mga sumusuporta sa kanya. Subalit walang takot daw niyang susugpuin ang krimen at korupsyon. Na itataguyod daw niya ang kapakanan ng karaniwang Pilipino.

Wag na lang daw pansinin ang mga pasabog. Wag na lang pansinin ang pagmumura. Wag mabulabog sa mga pang-iinsulto sa kababaihan, sa malalaswang biro. Bale wala raw ang mga ito. Dahil ang mahalaga ay padating na ang pagbabago.

Sana nga.

Alam namin na bilang bise presidente, mahirap ang kelangan ninyong gawing pagbabalanse.

Pero may mga tao sa bagong pamunuan na maaaring maging kakampi ninyo: sina Jun Evasco, Judy Taguiwalo at Leonor Briones. Isang matalik na kaibigan ko, si Noel Kintanar, ay sumang ayon nang sumapi sa bagong gabinete. Mga taong may matibay ang pananalig sa demokrasya at kapakanan ng sambayanan.

Bilang bise presidente, marami kayong maaaring maging kakampi. Pero alam naming may mga mahihirap na desisyong kelangan ninyong gawin. Maaaring hindi namin magustuhan at maunawaan ang iba sa mga ito.

Hindi kami laging sasang-ayon sa gagawin at sasabihin ninyo.

Subalit batay sa inyong nakaraan, isa kayong pinuno na handang tumanggap ng puna, isang lider na matiyagang magpapaliwanag ng posisyon at makikipag usap kahit sa mga di sumasang-ayon sa ninyo.

At kung malinaw na nagkamali kayo, buong tapang ninyong aaminin ito at tatanggapin ang responsibilidad sa kamalian.

Hindi magmamatigas. Hindi mapipikon.

Hindi magmumura: “Don’t f— with me.’

Hindi sisisihin ang iba: “Binola niya ako.”

Na sasalubungin ninyo ang hamon na unawain at iwasto ang anumang pagkakamali. Dahil ang pamumuno ay hindi lang tungkol sa isang tao o isang partido.

Kasama lahat. Kabalikat lahat.

“Laban kasama ang laylayan ng lipunan.”

Hindi matuwid ang daang kinakaharap ng Pilipinas. Maraming mga lubak. Matitirik ang mga liko.

Lakad na ho tayo.

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On Twitter @boyingpimentel

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TAGS: Daan Matuwid, Judy Taguiwalo, Jun Evasco, Leni Robredo’s vision, Leonor Briones, new Philippine administration, Noel Kintanar, President Benigno Aquino, Robredo slogan, Vice President Leni Robredo
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