Monday, December 17, 2007
Political institutions are important in a democracy for a number of reasons, which may as well be enumerated in the light of such institutions as they exist in the Philippine context.
Elected officials, forming a government institution, are indispensable because their election by the citizens is that which makes any democratic government representative. With officials being elected, the constitutionally-stipulated control over government legislative decisions can be said to represent the will of the people. Our two branches of government, the executive and the legislative, assume their posts and perform their duties only after being duly instated by the electorate.
The institution of free, just and regular elections is likewise vital in any democratic government. The elected officials who will pursue their represented people’s common good are selected in often and justly-conducted elections wherein threat is relatively rare. National and local elections are scheduled regularly in the Philippines wherein seeking public office and electing officials are free, and wherein fairness and security are being provided by such social institutions as the military.
The freedom of expression is a necessity in any democracy. Citizens should be given the right to express themselves without the risk of being gravely punished for criticizing officials, the government, the socioeconomic hierarchy and the dominant ideology. The Filipino masses can openly declare public opinion without running the threat of being counterattacked by the criticized.
Also, it is imperative for a democracy to have access to alternative sources of information. Citizens have the right to search for independent sources of information form other citizens, professionals, journals, magazines, books, telecommunications, among other things. These information sources like the media actually exist in the Philippines , are under the effective protection of the law and are not being manipulated by the government or any other single political entity trying to control public political thoughts and attitudes.
Autonomous organizations are also an important democratic institution. They are necessary because only with the right to constitute relatively free associations like independent political parties and advocacy groups will hasten the accomplishment of citizens’ several rights and other such things required for the effective operation of the democracy. Workers’ unions, peaceable assemblies and the like are quite dynamic in directing the political destiny of the Philippines , as may be exemplified by the bloodless people power revolutions in Edsa.
Inclusive citizenship is also a required institution in a democratic government. A permanent adult resident of a country and subject to that country’s law should not be denied of the rights accessible by others. It is important for Filipino citizens to have the right to vote in the election of officials in liberal and fair elections, to seek elective office, to have self-expression, to compose and partake in independent political groups, to gain access to independent sources of information, and rights to other liberties and privileges needed to operate effectively the political institutions of a democracy.
With all these political institutions, human interactions in a democracy’s economy, politics and society can be regulated. Majority rules but the rights of the minorities are upheld. If followed faithfully, the democracy can be labeled sound. Otherwise, as is manifest in the present regime, the rule of the people is dead.