Right to run-A A +A
Saturday, October 20, 2012
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) recently called to a hearing, 57 out of 84 senatorial aspirants to justify the legitimacy of their candidacies. That’s a whopping 67 percent of suspect nuisance candidates. I cringe at the numbers.
Are we, as a nation, teeming with delusional candidates? Or are we so lacking in meaningful activities or convictions that we can simply allow ourselves to be utilized as pawns in political games? The presence of these nuisance candidates makes a mockery of our electoral processes.
I don’t question the Comelec. They owe these loonies due process. However, I do question our eligibility requirements for elective office. They focus on age, citizenship, residency and literacy. Perhaps, it’s time they included mental, moral and physical fitness.
The camp of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims that her health is so frail, she must be confined to a hospital instead of a jail cell and yet she is physically fit to take on the rigors of an elective post. She’s too sick to be a jailbird but she’s well enough to be a congresswoman. How does she expect to serve the people from her hospital bed while she purportedly fights for her life?
In the same light, why do we allow prisoners to run for office? How can they serve their constituents from jail? The impracticality as well as the immorality of the situation boggles the mind. Why must convicted felons be allowed to run for office? Even after they have served their sentences, do they possess the moral ascendancy to lead? Having broken laws, should they be given the privilege to legislate or enforce laws?
While the Constitution “guarantees equal access to opportunities for public service,” the Constitution does not bar us from setting more stringent standards for elective office. One does not violate the Constitution when limits are applied equally to all.
Serial nuisance candidates should be banned for life from running for any elective post. Prisoners, convicted felons, terminally-ill patients and medically-challenged individuals should restrain themselves from running for an elective post. Can you really effectively serve?
Those above 75 should gracefully retire from public office. Those above 65 should give up their executive positions. While many may still enjoy mental and physical fitness at this time in their lives, they should have the magnanimity to give way to the younger crop.
More limits should be set for elective posts. Only one re-election in one’s lifetime should be allowed for every elective position sought. This will not likely dismantle political dynasties but this will set perpetual term limits and compel the succession of new leaders.
The best leaders think beyond their terms and lifetimes. New leaders cannot be groomed if old leaders cannot find the courage and humility to step down. Real leaders lead the way but they also gracefully give way.
Running for office is a right but serving the public is a privilege.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2012.