The rule of law cannot easily take root in the Philippines because the nation does not possess the political maturity to sustain a thriving republican democracy. The concepts of the rule of law and democracy are fragile ideals and aspirations, which need constant vigilance and a continuing active social commitment. They are not indigenous to any one particular people or nation in the western world, not even the United States of America where they have eroded over time.
In order to foster the rule of law, democracy must be supported by the integral, moral discipline of its citizenry. It is a discipline that does not come about through force or imposition. It does not come by as an unconscious, random natural process. Rather, it is the product of a volitional, conscious choice and effort, individually and collectively, to progress beyond the past and well on to the future, based on the sense of a common good for the greatest numbers of people. It is a learned, informed, and enlightened discipline, which is promoted, encouraged and permitted to develop and evolve over time. It is powered by the same kind of determination a medical student might have to studiously, dedicatedly apply himself to his medical studies and practice, in order to become an effective physician and potent healer.
By and large, the consciousness of Philippine society is still very much tribal, at worst, or feudal, at best. The nation is stuck in the feudal mentality of its historic past, and the ongoing failure of the nation to confront and transform its poor, historical self-image has only fueled a pervasive social indifference, self-denial, and hypocrisy.
Efforts in the past to externally change this have not succeeded, because the nation's backward feudal mentality is very deep-rooted in the national psyche. Such mindset manifests from its grossest manner in the rural areas to its subtlest in the highly populated urban areas. It blankets the country extensively with its regressive value system (the real Juan Tamad syndrome) and detrimental social by-products, to the point of suffocating and driving away the nation's brightest, progressive and promising minds, who are forced to leave the country for the greener pastures of opportunities, challenges and the promise of fulfillment elsewhere.
The nation cannot seem to rise and transcend upward to the skies beyond its roots in the ground. Thus, the people are deluded into a smug contentment of crawling and spreading themselves on the ground only like a creeping vine's tendrils, instead of sprouting thick sturdy branches and tall tree trunks by aspiring to heights of excellence and greatness. It is a catch-22 situation unfortunately. The nation's political, social, religious, and educational institutions conspire to reinforce and assure the ongoing mediocrity of the nation.
To aggravate matters, the people do not have a shared collective vision or goal of what they want their nation and country to become in the 21st century. So, people just plod along doing their own individual thing from day to day. Neither have they been blessed with a leadership that can sincerely fire the nation's collective imagination and motivate the people toward a brighter, glorious, truly prosperous future.
For Filipinos, the presidential form of government has become another socio-political instrument for preserving political opportunism and societal mediocrity. It is unfortunate that the country never gave the parliamentary system of government an authentic working chance. The latter could have been a good political experiment and laboratory for the nation to rediscover and reinvent itself. During pre-colonial times, native Filipinos governed themselves through the consensus-building political-social unit of the "barangay." It is my view that this pre-colonial administrative structure would have been the evolving early attempts of the people toward parliamentarianism.
Parliamentarianism was an opportunity for the people to politically develop and cultivate their appreciation for the rule of law in a democratic setting. However, it is now just another lost opportunity to the nation, just as many economic growth opportunities have been missed and lost in the past. How true can this be? We do not have to dig deep in research to find out. We only need to note how well Filipinos based and working overseas have done or are doing in their foreign environments. When presented with the opportunity to thrive, they did!
A nation without a dream is a people condemned to the hopelessness of their mediocrity. A country without a vision of its future is a nation robbed of its present and enslaved by its past.
At no point other than now can the following Filipino word be more meaningful — Mabuhay. It does not only mean "Welcome." It also means "Long live," or, better yet, "Come alive."