Stand-Off at the NAIA

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philppines - The scene at the NAIA airport last November 15 looked like one lifted from a local movie, one that you would like to blot out from your memory as it again put the country in a negative light. It was almost as bad as the Luneta incident which resulted in the death of several Hong Kong tourists, except that no one was physically hurt in the later incident.

The similarity was that both were consequences of bad communication and coordination among government agencies. The airport drama succeeded, however, in showing some of the worst aspects of our culture - "lusot" or tendency to outsmart the other (the Arroyos attempt to leave the country without formal clearance from DoJ), taking short cuts (Supreme Court justices hastily issued the TRO without giving due scrutiny to background documents); and finally, the absence of what I consider a most critical attribute in all aspects of governance - "trust" (among all parties concerned). Its presence could have generated the needed goodwill that could have prevented the occurrence of that brouhaha that again intrigued the international press.

Perhaps even Secretary De Lima could have tempered her sense of justice with a little mercy. Perhaps too, the Arroyos could have waited for a few more hours, a few more days. But the upside is that we learned lessons which could perhaps help in the design of content for orientation of public officials, systems, and procedures for implementing policies, and structures for inter-agency coordination.

They would be useful guidelines for all of us when we examine our roles as citizens of this country. The recent incident reinforced a general characteristic of our decision (individual or collective) processes - the lack of a comprehensive framework that would enable us to understand the relationship between the personal and cultural, the political, the economic or the ethical/moral aspects of an issue or problem.

This kind of self-reflection is similar to what National Artist Frankie Sionil Jose would like a sector in our society to do. They are those concerned with culture (artist, teachers, art patrons, cultural activists); media practitioners, and select decision makers in the private sector and government. …