Category Archives: Philippine Elections
(Third in a Series)
We’re complaining about political dynasties, right? But haven’t we Filipinos realized that we are so guilty of creating the political dynasties in the Philippines? Yes, we have to admit it. We allowed the same politicians and their family members to lord it over in the Philippine political landscape.
When a politician, let’s say a mayor, could no longer run for re-election due to term limits, what would the honorable gentleman do? Turn his back on politics? Of course not! Power is so addicting. So many of those who experienced to be at the helm of either local or national politics (and enjoyed the benefits, including those “passed under the table”) would not just quit politics nor pass the torch to another person.
So, what would happen?
His wife would run for the position he previously held. Then that politician would run for another post – as governor perhaps. Most of the time, Filipino voters would allow them to win and usually they would be able to mesmerize (or buy) the voters to luckily get re-elected until they reach their term limits. Would it be the end? Would their thirst for power (and the so-called “benefits”) be finally satiated?
The couple would ask their son or daughter (or a grandson – or a granddaughter – or an in-law) to run for the positions they would vacate. The shocking thing (and you might not believe it), there are times that siblings, or even husbands and wives, would not give way to the other and so member of the same family would slug it out in the political arena. Anyway, this is not about family member squabbling in the political arena – this is about the political dynasty their families created.
Let’s continue then.
Let’s go back to the mother who just reached her term limit as mayor. Would she go back to being a full-time mother and wife? You were born only yesterday if you don’t know the answer to that question. Yes – she would run for the post vacated by the husband-politician. The husband would then aim for a higher position – run either as congressman or even senator. In case all family members win then for years that the power will change hands within the same family. The son (or daughter) is a mayor, the mother a governor and the father either as congressman or senator. When term limits are reached then they will just run for the position that a family member would vacate. Some siblings, and even in-laws, in the family are also occupying minor positions in the geographical units where they reside.
Did that family created their political dynasty? No! We ourselves did it. We Filipinos created the political dynasties in the Philippines.
Now, answer these questions – “How (did they perform) are they performing as leaders?” “What is the current economic, social and political condition of the country?” “Is the Philippines marching towards progress with them holding the reins of government for God knows how long?”
Of course you know the answers to the foregoing questions.
How many of the available positions in the Philippine government, local and national, are held by the same families who have been the gods and goddesses of Philippine politics since time immemorial? Most of them are offspring of the peninsulares who survived “America’s power grab” at the turn of the 20th century. Eventually they stayed in the country and reaped the dividends for doing so. And it’s not only the politics that they dominate. With the enormous fortune they inherited from their Spanish parents/grandparents, they also control the country’s economy. That’s why Filipinos would sometimes jokingly ask – “Did the Spanish rule really end?”
Only a few pure-blooded Filipinos and foreign expatriates of Chinese origin who became wealthy when the Americans took their turn to colonize the Philippine had the financial resources to challenge the Spanish mestizos for political supremacy in the Philippines, especially after the American granted the Filipinos their independence after the World War II. Some of them succeeded and when they experienced how intoxicating power is, they (and their offsprings) kept running and we kept electing them as if nobody else were qualified.
It is no longer surprising to know that politicians occupying national positions have one, or two family members and in-laws occupying seats in the local government.
Filipinos might ask – “When would having the same people from the same families passing the reins of leadership to each other in both the national and local governments after elections end?”
That’s up to the Filipino voters.
So, Filipinos should not wonder why the Philippines is until now classified as a “developing country”.
According to Albert Einstein, “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Why in the world we expect a better-performing government when we keep electing the same politicians? Are we insane?
(Second in a Series)
We also need to exercise our right to vote seriously. Refusing to sell our votes is only the first step. It’s about time that we should also set certain standards that candidates should measure up to before we write their names in the ballot – standards that are over and beyond the qualifications set by our Constitution for candidates seeking a particular public office.
It’s time for us to realize also that some personalities are venturing into politics not because they want to serve the people but because they think that they are so popular and such popularity could easily catapult them into a public office. Fame, like power, is also addicting.
An interesting question to answer is, “How many showbiz and sports personalities holding public office now were elected not because they are both qualified and capable to lead but because they are popular?”
There are other questions that we need to answer as honestly as we should – “What did those actors, actresses, singers, TV personalities, basketball players, boxers, and other celebrities who used their popularity to win contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in the localities where they were elected?” Those among them who were lucky to become President, Vice President, Senators or Congressmen (or were given cabinet posts), did they contribute anything to national development?” “What good if any did their ‘star power’ bring to politics and governance in the Philippines?”
If all those seasoned and veteran politicians who have master’s and doctorate degrees in law, economics, political science, public administration, and business administration and have been in public service all their life could hardly move the needle forward on socio-economic development, what do we expect from showbiz, media, and sports personalities who suddenly turned into politicians only because they are immensely popular and that they know that Filipino voters could easily be deceived. Do they honestly think that the skills and knowledge needed to run a public office can be acquired by taking crash courses in leadership and management?
Sadly speaking, this is how politicians and celebrities-turned-politicians think of Filipino voters – they can not only be bought and but they are also unintelligent. Most of those running for public office consider the Filipino voters cheap and ignorant – cheap because they are willing to sell their votes for a small amount of cash and ignorant because they don’t know how to choose the right candidate for a position.
Choosing the most qualified and capable among sets of candidates is not a rocket science. We can evaluate their qualifications corresponding to the position they are seeking. We can check their track record. We can hear them talk during the campaign period both in person and through any form of media. We can determine who among them are eloquent and could articulate their platform of government and who are dumb and merely banking on their popularity so they could get the support of unsuspecting voters or they have truckloads of money to buy votes. If we find those celebrities truly qualified, capable, and sincere in their desire to serve this country and they are the best among the candidates vying for an elective position, then we should vote for them.
We have to separate the wheat from the chaff. We need to exercise due diligence in distinguishing the qualified and capable candidates from a pretenders. Electing leaders unto whom we give the mandate to lead – unto whom we pin our hopes for a better nation – is not a game. Elections are not popularity contests.
Governance is a serious business and should be done on a full-time basis. One cannot be a public servant on a part-time basis who would attend to her/his duties and obligations only when there are no shooting sessions for movies and TV shows or there are no practices or games to play as athletes in any sport.
We should never entrust a public office to clowns.
Down to 5 presidential aspirants (in alphabetical order, not the writer’s order of preference)… Binay, Duterte, Poe, Roxas, and Santiago. With only three months left before the elections, the presidential race is beginning to heat up. Things will get more exciting once the official campaign period kicks off.
The bets for the presidency have already bared their platforms of government for the scrutiny of the voting populace. They, even if the official campaign period is yet to begin, have been posting and airing their respective campaign ads in print, broadcast and social media with each of them attempting to convince the electorate that he/she is the best and most qualified to lead the country in the next six years. They are taking turns in courting the voters promising, as usual, the moon and the stars should they get elected. They and their legion of supporters have been making rounds in the provinces holding meetings and performing activities intended to increase their chances of winning. Their respective “dirty tricks departments” have been doing their best as well to open their opponents’ cans of worms to tarnish their reputation and make them less competitive.
Analyses and results of pre-election surveys show how fickle-minded are the voters. Different candidates ended at the top of voting preference at different period of times.
Had elections been held a couple of years ago Binay would have won. However, his popularity bubble burst when pricked by accusations of corruption hurled against him and his family. His place as the most preferred presidential aspirant was taken over by Poe whose ascension to the Senate was undoubtedly aided by the popularity of her father, the late Fernando Poe, Jr., the action king of Philippine cinema. It is also the FPJ factor that may catapult her to the most powerful seat in Malacañang.
But the voter preference meter for the 2016 elections suffered another fluctuation when Poe was said to have actually renounced her Filipino citizenship some years back to become an American thereby making her technically not qualified to seek the highest position in the land. When COMELEC barred Poe from running for President for the aforementioned, down went her numbers in the surveys.
It was at that juncture that Duterte’s popularity started to gain ground. The Filipinos who are tired of decades of cronyism, patronage and political compromises saw a glimmer of hope in the feisty mayor of Davao city. Duterte saw his steady climb in the surveys which made him finally decide to throw his hat into the presidential derby after dillydallying for sometime.
However, he committed a serious blunder that may have permanently damaged his quest for the presidency. In one of his trademark verbal outbursts, he was construed to have cursed Pope Francis. It did not sit well with the Filipinos, most of whom are devout Catholics. As to whether Duterte’s candidacy recovers from that miscue or not will be made known after the 2016 presidential joust.
The other candidate known for feistiness is Santiago. She continues to occupy the bottom of election surveys and it is believed that it may take a miracle for her to say that “the third time’s the charm.” Santiago is seeking the presidency for the third time.
Quietly lurking on the shadows of the leaders in the surveys is the administration’s bet, Roxas. He has yet to occupy the top of the voters’ preference but make no mistake about it, he is seriously contending for the presidency. He has no less than the backing of the government ran by the members of the political party where he belongs and the endorsement of the incumbent President. However, such endorsement from a President who has been making some unpopular decisions as of late may be seen more as a kiss of death rather than a shot in Roxas’ arms. But who knows if the Cory factor still weaves a political magic. The yellow army of Cory Aquino may have not forgotten yet how he unselfishly gave way to Noynoy during the 2010 elections.
Santiago and Poe know too well how is it to run against an administration bet. The former lost to Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 elections and the latter’s father, FPJ, failed in his presidential bid against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 2004 polls. Both Santiago and FPJ led the pre-election surveys. Even early election results then showed them leading comfortably. But they both ended up runner-ups to the eventual winners. They cried foul to high heavens but to no avail.
The most recent (January-2016) Pulse Asia survey shows Poe on top again. This came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring that the COMELEC can’t cancel Poe’s candidacy (yet). Surpisingly, Roxas, statistically tied Binay, and Duterte at 2nd place. While Roxas was up 3 points from his 17 percent rating in December, 2015, Binay and Duterte suffered a decline of 10 points and 3 points, respectively. Poe’s ratings jumped by nine points from 21 percent raising speculations (and fears) that she might win come May 9.
So, will there finally be a “Poe” in Malacañang in 2016? Not if the other contenders can help it. Binay and Duterte, however, must seriously do some damage control for the issues bedevilling them at the moment. Roxas on his part is uncertain whether being identified with an administration whose gains in the economic front were stained by the blood of 44 members of the Special Action Force who got killed in the Mamasapano encounter and cursed by the country’s senior citizens whose hopes of getting an additional P2,000 monthly pension was vetoed by the very President who endorsed his candidacy. Santiago, on the other hand, need to dish out a magical performance out of her bag of political theatrics in order to convince the voters that she’s got what it takes to be a President of the Philippine Republic.
As it is, those leading in the pre-election surveys may have the edge yet nobody knows for sure who will win. But one thing certain and inevitable, just three more months and Noynoy will relinquish the presidency to whoever wins the 2016 Elections.