Repeat performance?-A A +A
Monday, February 4, 2013
THE Commission on Elections needs to correct the excessive and violative-of-law election spending of candidates during the coming May 13, 2013 national and local elections. For too long has the poll body allowed candidates to borrow and spend millions (even billions in the case of presidential candidates) more than legally allowed. That runaway extravagance has corrupted both the electoral system and the politicians participating in the system. Ultimately, we the citizens end up the biggest losers.
The justification given by the candidates to fork out more money than they can afford often borders on the ridiculous and the incredulous. They say the expense is necessary so that the voters can get to know them and their qualification to represent the constituents. So they flood the city with stickers, posters, streamers and billboards, and their faces appear ad nauseum on television, and radio incessantly screams about their "accomplishments."
And since that is apparently not enough, the Election Code is further shunted aside. The (let's call him trapo) candidate puts thousands of what he calls his household or family leaders on the payroll, each of whom will guarantee him at least five more additional votes, not necessarily because these captive voters know him or believe in his accomplishments; but simply because they expect to get paid by him. He justifies the millions of pesos in election payroll over-spending by convincing himself and others that he needs to do it in order to win, and he has to win in order to serve.
And he does win, as many "trapo-playing candidates" win. He is now ready to serve the people.
But first, there's the matter of paying back the donors and the lenders who provided him his campaign kitty. There's also the vendors, the trisikad and jeepney drivers associations, the informal settlers and the other similar sectors who he promised to help, preserve and protect. Then there is his campaign machinery, the thousands of family leaders that he promised to provide jobs to.
And so the donors get the juicy government contracts or their businesses get government priority and protection. The sidewalk vendors crowd the streets and the curbs with impunity, the politician providing them his protection as promised. The trisikad and the public utility vehicles lord the streets while the traffic enforcers and the law-abiding drivers watch helplessly.
A sizable chunk of the yearly budget goes to the payroll of job-order family-leaders-turned-casual-government-employees. As for the squatters, they are allowed to stay where they are, where they remain poor and malleable until the next elections. The public anticipation and promise of real, honest-to-goodness transparent government service gets stuck as a... promise.
Will May 2013 be a repetition?
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 04, 2013.