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Ang pagyakap sa isang ideolohiyang politikal o ang simpleng pagpapahayag ng paniniwala o adhikain na kaugnay sa politika ay maihahalintulad sa pagtatanim ng hangin. Hindi ka nakakatiyak kung ano ang iyong aanihin – hanging amihan ba o habagat. May salawikain nga tayo na ganito ang sinasabi – “Kapag nagtanim ka ng hangin, bagyo ang iyong aanihin.”

Kung ang makakarinig o makakabasa ng mga ipinahayag mo ay kahalintulad mo ng paniniwala, amihan ang hanging iyong aanihin. Ang pagsangayon ng mga kakampi mo ay parang hanging amihan na dadampi sa iyong mga pisngi. Maginhawa iyon sa pakiramdam. Ang papuring ibibigay nila ay parang malamyos na hangin. Presko.

Subalit kung ang makakasumpong ng mga ipinahayag mo ay kasalungat mo ang paniniwala’t paninindigan, hanging habagat ang iyong aanihin. Humanda ka sa paghihip nito. Dala ng hanging habagat ay ulan. Pihadong uulanin ka ng batikos. Hindi masarap ang dampi ng hanging habagat. Minsan may kasama pa itong kidlat, mga bayolenteng reaksyon laban sa adhikain mong politikal o sa mga pahayag mong malinaw na nagsasaad ng iyong paninidigan sa politika at kung sinong politiko ang iyong sinusuportahan.

Para sa mga hindi mo kaalyado at kakampi sa politika, ano man ang sabihin mo, tama o mali, eh para itong hanging ibinuga mo sa iyong likuran. Tama ka, ang tawag sa hanging iyon ay utot. Masangsang ito’t mabantot para sa kanila. Pero siyempre kung ang makakaamoy nito ay kabilang sa kampong pinili mong samahan ay sasabihin nilang ito’y amoy rosas at sampagita.

Ang paniniwalang politikal ay para kasing hininga, nakakasulasok at makabaligtad-sikmura ang amoy nito kung manggagaling sa bibig ng mga hindi mo kakulay. Wala naman itong kasingbango kung ito’y mamumutawi sa labi ng mga kaalyado mo.

Kung lilimiin natin ng mabuti, ang eleksyon sa Pilipinas ay parang ipo-ipo. Kapag ito’y dumaan, nagugulo ang mundo. Dulot nito’y pagkawasak. Pagkakawatak-watak. Pagkakagalit-galit. Pagkakakanya-kanya. At parang ipo-ipo rin ang mga politiko. Paiikutin nila ang tao’t paniniwalain. Sa sobrang hilo ng iba ay tila sila’y nagiging panatiko. Makikipagbangayan at makikipagaway, minsan makikipagpatayan upang ipagtanggol ang politikong animo’y Diyos na kung kanilang ituring. Sa sobrang hilo ng ilan sa mga kababayan natin ay kakagalitin kahit mga mahal sa buhay upang ipagtanggol ang parang sa tingin nila ay mga santo o santa na mga politikong kanilang sinusuportahan.

Habang nilalakbay mo ang dagat ng buhay at ang hangin ng politika ay hindi sumangayon sa direksyong gusto mong lakbayin ay dalawa lamang ang puwede mong pagpiliang gawin. Una, bumalik ka sa pampang at hintayin mong humihip ang hangin sangayon sa iyong kagustuhan. At ang pangalawa, ayusin mo ang timon mo’t layag at ipagpatuloy mo ang paglalakbay. Hindi mo kaylangang bumalik sa pampang. Wika nga nila sa English, “You cannot change the wind, but you can adjust your sail.” Patuloy ka lang maglakbay. Keep on sailing. May buhay kang dapat ayusin na huwag mong isama sa inog ng ipo-ipo na politika kung tawagin. Hindi katapusan ng mundo dahil lang natalo ang kandidatong iniidolo mo.

Lagi nating tandaan na ang politika ay parang hangin. Papalit-palit ito ng direksyon. Minsan ang kampo mo panalo, minsan talo. Ganoon talaga. Wika nga nila, sa mundo ng politika ay weder-weder lang.

The Business Venture Called Politics

How many of the incumbent local and national officials in the Philippines (and also in your own country) can come forward and with  heads held high say that they did not buy their way  to  victory?

The painful truth is that elections have turned out to be a business venture. Politicians are like businessmen who if they hope to win must be willing to make an investment. And the investor in the politicians would expect a profit, not just a return on investment.

How much should a politician invest? Do the math.

According to the Commission on Elections, the number of registered voters for 2022 polls hit 63 million.

Last year (2020), the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6095 amending provisions of RA No. 7166. The bill provides that those running for President and Vice President can spend up to P50 per voter for their campaign. That used to be P10 per voter. From P3, senators, district representatives, governor, vice governor, board members, mayor, vice-mayor, and councilors are now allowed to spend up to P30 per voter. But those who were not born yesterday know that candidates for national and local elections spend way much beyond what the laws allow.

Beyond what the statutes allow, a candidate has to dig deeper into his pocket if he hopes to win. Vote-buying is no longer a secret making this writer say that election now is nothing but a business venture. It is no longer the best and most qualified candidates getting elected but the ones who have enormous financial resources.

A candidate willing to pay at least P500 for every voter is likely to win. The percentage for winning gets higher if the one seeking an elective position has the capacity of making that amount higher… like P1000 to P2000 for each vote.

Now, do the Math if you wish to know how much a candidate needs to prepare for his election bid. Include the amount needed for campaign advertisement, salaries of campaign leaders per geographical unit (province, town, city, barangay, districts, or zones) depending on which position is being sought, and other miscellaneous expenses. Don’t forget to add the amount a candidate is willing to pay for each voter (multiplied by the number of voters.)

For the millions of pesos those candidates extricate from their coffers what do they wish to get in return?

It’s not difficult to determine what drives people to run for election (and seek re-election). It’s as simple as A, B, or C.

A – a political position is a business venture for which they expect to get returns for their investments and a whole lot of profit (How? Use your imagination!!!).

B – an opportunity to wield power allowing the one who holds it to protect personal and family interests and to advance other personal motives and agendas.

C – love for public service.

The citizens who care are hoping it’s the C. For those who sell their votes, A and B. Why? Come on, don’t tell me you don’t know.

Let me end the way I started – with the following question.

How many of the country’s incumbent local and national officials can come forward and with a head held high say that they did not buy their way  to  victory?

Allow me to ask one more question.

How many local and national officials whose assets did not exponentially increase at the end of their terms?

And one more…

How many of them ran (and obviously won) and will seek reelection – for the love of public service?

What We Filipinos Ought To Realize (4)

(Last of 4 parts)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

In the first three parts of this series, I identified our serious faults as Filipinos – we sell our votes, we use questionable standards when choosing leaders, we treat elections as if they are popularity contests allowing immensely popular but inexperienced and incompetent celebrities to win, and we either keep  restoring from the “recycle bin” the same traditional politicians or replace them with any of their family members.

Our inability to choose the right leaders is clearly one of the factors preventing us from reaching our full socio-political and economic potential as a nation.

We know that the government plays the most essential role in leading all efforts to make this country progressive. We need the best leaders if  we really want to become a “developed nation.”  It  is our responsibility as citizens to select the best  ones to hold the reins of government. Unfortunately, we keep failing to do so.

The funny thing is that after we put them into  power – the politicians who won because they have the money to buy votes, celebrities-turned-politicians who are inexperienced and incompetent, and “recycled politicians”  and the members of their political dynasties – we expect them to perform well. After every election, we expect a better-performing government.

And why would we expect a different government – a more effective one – when we know that we keep electing the same politicians or use the same old rotten standards when choosing new leaders?

Let us revisit  Albert Einstein’s definition of  insanity – “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

But assuming that one day we restore our sanity and finally we refuse to sell our votes – finally  we learn to elect into office the most deserving and most qualified among candidates – would the wheels of national development start rolling?

Not quite yet!

There’s one more problem, a problem more serious than our failure to vote wisely and conscientiously. The more serious problem of Filipinos, as mentioned in the first part of this series, is the mindset that that the leaders we elect are solely responsible in solving all of our society’s ills and nation’s problems.

We view our relationship with the state at the vantage point of “self-entitlement.” We think that it is the duty of our leaders to give us “this and that.” We say that the government should do “this and that” for us. See, we expect too much from leaders whom we don’t even choose using the best and most appropriate standards.

Is it the duty of the government to provide each citizen with food, clothes, and shelter?

Of course not!

What the government does, generally speaking, is to formulate, implement, and enforce the laws of the land, to build infrastructure, to ensure peace and order, and to create economic and other opportunities that would help its citizens enjoy the conveniences of life and have the best chance to get good education and find  or create means of livelihood.

It is also not the duty of the government to provide everybody a job?

One of the functions of the government is to create an environment that would promote economic growth. They have to make sure that businessmen would be encouraged to invest and initiate  businesses activities thus creating job opportunities. But jobs are not given in a silver platter. We have to search for job openings and apply and make sure that we have the required qualifications for the jobs we want. Getting ourselves ready for employment is a personal responsibility. The government will not deliver to our doorsteps the jobs that we want.

The government itself is also an employer but it cannot possibly provide each citizen with a job. It is also impossible for the private sector to employ everybody. That’s just the reality. Harsh it may be.  Those  who won’t  get employed, or do not want to work for others because they have better plans for themselves, could perhaps succeed as entrepreneurs.

Not everybody would get a college degree. Not everybody is trained and destined to be in a workplace – either in the corporate world or in the academe. Some of us will be factory workers, sales clerks, farmers,  fishermen, plumbers, drivers, gardeners, or what-have-you. It doesn’t matter whatever jobs we have for as long as they are decent and they allow us to earn a living honestly.

Don’t reason out that you came from a poor family and your parents could not send you to school to get a good education and have a better chance for a better life.

This is just how many of us Filipinos are. When we don’t  succeed in life, when things don’t turn the way we expect them to, when we are not doing well in the different areas of our personal lives, we are always ready to check our “blame list” to find somebody or something to put the blame on. And our favorite whipping boy – the government. When we are done accusing our leaders for  not doing their job well causing us to become losers, we next vent our ire on our parents saying that they did not work hard enough to ensure that we live a good life when we become adults.

We need to throw away that “blame list” for whether we like it or not we are personally responsible and accountable for our success and failure. There comes a time in our lives when we should become be self-sufficient, a time when we, not the government nor our parents,  decide for ourselves and take full control of our destiny.

We Filipinos need to realize that unless we recognize our faults and change there’s no way our country becomes progressive and “developed.” We will  never gain the respect of the community of nations  if we remain the way that we are now.

Something was said by John F. Kennedy  that we should reflect upon – “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

We Filipinos ought to realize that there are two requirements for a country to become progressive and developed – good government and cooperative citizenry. Remove one and a country is doomed. The citizens and their leaders need to work harmoniously towards achieving national goals. There’s no other way. Both of them need to work hard. They have to work hand in hand. The one thing we should bear in mind is we have control over who would lead us, of who will be holding the reins of government. So, if we fail to choose the right people to man the executive and legislative branches of our government, then don’t expect our country to do better… to be better.

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