Can we defend it in Plaza Miranda?

BEFORE the coming of mass television and way before the age of the internet, Plaza Miranda in Quiapo was the forum for political candidates presenting themselves to the people. It was also a venue for discussions of important public issues.

The speakers were there in flesh and blood delivering their messages before harsh public scrutiny. They spoke their hearts out without the aid of electronic prompters and without reading from scripts prepared by highly paid speechwriters.

The audience listened to real persons and not to creations of professional image builders.

The speakers were more transparent because they spoke without props and within breathing distance from the crowd who could observe their body language and sense if they were fake or real. That’s how significant Plaza Miranda was. It was the anvil for hammering the truth.

The expression “Can we defend it in Plaza” is attributed to the late President Magsaysay. It is said that whenever he discussed with his cabinet or advisers an important matter of policy or executive action, he would first ask, “Can we defend it at Plaza Miranda”?

When the Guy, as Magsaysay was sometimes called, asked this question, he touched the raw nerve of public service ethics, that is, public officials are servants of the people and should act by consent of the governed. Magsaysay went straight to the people and did not rely on an army of apologists, shock absorbers and propaganda spinners.

Of course times have changed and modes of communication are different, but basic moral values remain.

I hope that when our public officials decide on important issues affecting our lives they first bring up the merits of the case before an imaginary Plaza Miranda somewhere in their hearts./PN  


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