Middle Class

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

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At the beginning of the ,  of Caceres issued a pastoral letter entitled "Hope and Wait with Perseverance" which we published in this paper. The Archbishop's letter intends to be a pastor's guide to our local communities as a preparation for the historic and critical 2010 Automated National and Local Elections.

While we find the pastoral letter to be frank and cogent in its rehearsal of the analysis of the nation's political culture, we note its boldness in unequivocably advocating for the rule of the "middle class." We believe that this position advanced by the Archbishop's pastoral letter deserves to be examined by the community if it is ultimately to be adhered to or not.

In its proffered analysis, the letter states that Philippine politics is an oligarchy in which around 300 elite families rule across national and local governments. Characteristic of this oligarchic politics, the letter further discloses, is the preponderance of election fraud and violence, costly campaigns, political turncoatism, quid-pro-quo transactions, extrajudicial killings, and power hoarding. These are clearly undeniable.

The call for "middle class" rule is, however, different. Viewed immediately and solely from the perspective of ideological politics, the pastoral letter's advocacy for the emergence of the "middle class" appears to be the privileging of one particular socio-economic class to replace the ruling elite. Were this the case, this is no real social transformation but simply the removal of one shackle to be replaced by yet another.

But is this what the pastoral letter intends?

Closer inspection reveals otherwise. The pastoral letter identifies what it calls the "middle class"-in the prose of PCP II-as those "neither so poor that they have nothing to give nor so rich that they have nothing to need." The "middle class" to which the pastoral letter alludes to is not motivated by ideological interests, but by the virtue of social justice which is directed towards bridging the chasm between the marginalized and the powerful.

In other words, the call for "middle class" rule is a call for people empowerment wherein our nation's and communities' social goods benefit not only a handful, not only a majority, but everyone.

Is this an achievable goal? Can people of different religions and faith-persuasions within our communities unite under such a goal? And in view of the 2010 Elections to which the pastoral letter is directly concerned with, which candidates embody this goal? Answers to these lie in the serious and communal deliberation of the stance espoused by the pastoral letter.