Seek the golden mean

Published November 12, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

BUSINESS BEAT                                                                                                                                


The Greek philosoper Aristotle espoused the golden mean.  Moral behavior is the mean between two extremes; at one end is excess, at the other deficiency.  Finding a moderate position between two extremes is acting morally.  The golden mean or rule is a good guide for the actions of men, especially rulers, that would lead to a just and peaceful state. It is a benchmark that the Duterte administration should use if President Duterte truly wants a better Philippines.  Already we see it has been applied in some instances but sadly not consistently.

In the case of Boracay, President Duterte should be commended for exhibiting courage (the mean between cowardice and rashness) in ordering the temporary closure of the island and its transformation into a family-oriented destination.  By declaring areas to be given to the original settlers, he has also corrected decades-long exploitation of native dwellers.  What needs to be done is to multiply the Boracay initiative in the many island tourist spots and even in urban areas like along Roxas Boulevard to better appreciate the breathtaking sunset view.  Taking the side of indigenous peoples means protecting them from the onslaughts of outsiders intent to exploit the resources of their land and ensuring the preservation of their culture and heritage by stopping the attempts to close tribal schools.

In the search for justice, the President’s determination to fight corruption should also include incompetence so that appointees who fail should not just be rotated to other positions but should be removed from government service.  Those considered corrupt should be prosecuted using the full force of the law in the same way as the Duterte administration has pursued the cases against Senators De Lima and Trillanes. Otherwise it will be perceived that the Duterte administration is selective and practices  discrimination in its fight for justice.

It has been observed that President Duterte is partial to those from Davao, those who were posted in Davao and those from the military in his appointments.  While this is understandable at the onset of his term, given his limited network as a mayor, one would expect that over time, the President should reach to the best talents, many of whom may not fit his initial limited criteria.  He should seek to have a presidency that is inclusive rather than exclusive.  Bringing in such professionals will allow his team to have a broader perspective that is more representative of the demographics of the country.

Given a term of six years and the promises of change in his presidential campaign, it is understandable that President Duterte is impatient for results.  On occasions, he has expressed frustration at the pace of progress of his priority programs.  However, he should have his team avoid “cutting corners” as these could lead to abuse of authority and deprivation of the rights of others.  A careful study of the situation could lead to solutions that are sustainable and reflect the values that any society should cherish.

Select members of the government bureaucracy, the military, and the police have been given hefty salary increases.  The rest of the bureaucracy are waiting, especially as inflation whittles the purchasing power of their compensation.  The success of the Duterte presidency will depend on the total bureaucracy; therefore all bureaucrats should be motivated to render better service to the Filipino people.

Beyond the bureaucracy, there are the Filipino people who voted for change for the better.  When will the fruits of the economic progress reach them?  Up to now, around 30% of the population are at poverty levels.  When will the Duterte administration lift them out of poverty?  What are the community-based programs for skills training and job creation that can be the stepping stone of the poor to join the mainstream of Philippine society?

The Duterte administration is just halfway in its term.  There is still time to shift gears and follow the golden rule.  For the sake of the nation, we hope it will.