SCENES on nationwide TV of candidates grinning from ear to ear as they filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) provided me with moments of disquiet and depression. Fifty-two percent of Filipinos (a whooping 52.5 million) just self-rated themselves poor. Yet I did not hear any candidate tell journalists covering the event how they felt and what they were going to do about it.
The situation is so dire you would expect the candidates to woo people’s votes with well-laid out economic strategies on how to reduce the poverty-incidence rate in the country. Instead all one hears are grand flourishes, motherhood statements, on human rights, the rule of law, national security, sovereignty, etc. none of which the nation’s fifty or so million poor can relate to.
My suspicion is politicians don’t talk about the core issue of poverty for three reasons that are also the three faces of their greed and ambition.
First, they don’t know what to do. They assail the administration’s economic strategies not because they have something better but simply to instigate gullible voters to put them back in power.
Second, they are not campaigning to serve but to enrich themselves and enjoy the perks of power and privilege. How, for instance, could a senatorial candidate spend a billion pesos in campaign expenses if he/she was not sure he/she would recover all that expense and more?
And third, they simply don’t care. Why bother with a tightly buttoned-up economic program when they can just buy the votes of the poor which, from experience, would usually take care of them until the next elections?
No less depressing was the way the press covered the filing of COCs. Because mainstream media networks were out mainly to get an elephant’s share of the mammoth campaign advertising budgets, journalists didn’t dare make anybody squirm in discomfort over questionable programs or a lack of them. They did nothing more than allow all candidates to put up a nice façade to the public even as they mouth off fancy claims of love of country and people.
I still have to hear a journalist ask a candidate what he/she intends to do about the 52 percent poverty incidence in the country. In the face of the people’s clamor for a stop to political dynasties, no journalist is asking for the filers’ reaction to the Arroyo proposal of taking out term-limits. They simply report without comment or question that the Binays are cementing their hold on Makati, the Tupazes on Iloilo and the Gullases in Talisay, Cebu.
It’s business as usual in the coming elections. Money will trump good judgment and it will be poverty as usual for the 52 percent as winning officials investigate without end but never solve their problems.
This is simply depressing.