Bello at Sociology Kapihan: Congress an "interesting laboratory"

The Sociologist and the Activist

Walden Bello, AKBAYAN representative and former sociology professor, discussed September 14 his experiences during Martial Law and how his academic background influenced his work in Congress at the Sociology Kapihan.

Bello said people trained in sociology enter public office with "low expectations," but Congress is "an interesting laboratory" for someone interested in how institutions work.

Sociology, added Bello, has helped him understand beyond “common sense” the socio-political systems in Congress.

Bello's training in sociology exposed him to theories that seek to explain phenomena in Philippine legislature, such as cleavages between "rhetoric and myths" and the true state of democracy in the Philippines, political dynasties, and the emerging partylist system.

Seeing these at work interest the "sociologist in (Bello)," the Congressman claimed.

However, as a legislator and a "change agent," how these phenomena support "unequal and undemocratic social structures" (except for the last phenomenon) frustrates the activist in him.

Bello claimed that his activism roots from the events of Martial Law and his involvement in the underground movement.

The anti-Dictatorship activist shared how he and allies used to steal confidential documents to their cronies because “the normal ...disclose covert bank deposits and expenditures of the Marcoses and research methods did not work under a dictatorship.”

“The dictatorship forces you to make choices,” Bello said.

Bello returned to the academe 1994 and was tenured 1997.

Returning to the professional field has not removed the values shaped by 20 years living underground, the Congressman asserted.

“The practical political output” has always been Bello’s priority in teaching when he was part of the Department of Sociology, he said.

Vision for 2010

AKBAYAN party-list eyes Rep. Risa Hontiveros as its senatorial bet, said Bello.

As for presidential bets, Bello said that AKBAYAN will ally with the candidate who “will do the least harm,” and rooted for Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II before he backed out.

AKBAYAN will try to provide the now Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III with a progressive program that will open up “spaces,” cracks in the foundation of the current system, to effect organized social change.

Bello described Aquino as a “blank slate,” the medium of the “politics of vision [that] can dissolve the politics of interest.” ▪

Article by Marie Julienne Ente