HONESTLY, I often find myself wondering why we even bother to participate in elections that are, invariably, not so much about our choices as about going for the lesser evil or who has the most guns, goons, and gold.

If anything, next year’s elections won’t be any better and, in fact, appear set to highlight everything wrong about Philippine politics and governance, as exemplified by a largely execrable field of candidates who should, by rights, have long been tossed into the dustbin of history or languishing behind bars, but who, sadly, are likely to buy, cheat and bully their way to power.

And why not? They have practically been assured that happy days – for them anyway – are here again, by an administration that promised change but neglected to tell us it would all be for the worst.

Just look at the senatorial derby.

We have three candidates charged – one of them still in detention, in fact – for their alleged roles in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, including that 94-year-old master of selective amnesia and ever-shifting history, the quintessential political chameleon who apparently intends to break the century mark in the chamber should he win.

There, too, is the eldest daughter of Ferdinand Marcos, idol of the current all-but-for-the-official-declaration dictator, she who falsely claimed “ang liit-liit ko pa” when her father plunged us into 14 years of tyranny in 1972 and refuses, like her mother and other siblings, to acknowledge the suffering they – yes, THEY were in the thick of it – caused our people.

Oh, and did we forget to mention that, except for the ancient one, they’re all in the vomit-inducing lineup endorsed by the despot-in-waiting’s equally despotic daughter, a slate that includes a former cop who presided over the bloodiest days of the war on drugs; a literal sap who flouted the rules for the filing of candidacy, abetted no less by his principal who took time off from misgoverning the nation to hold his alalay’s hand; the former presidential mouthpiece who, after being discarded like a dirty rag after selling his soul for the chance to wiggle into the edges of the center of power, threatened to “be my own person again” only to beat the deadline and run for the Senate where he hopes to continue being a sycophant to an ungrateful master; and re-electionists who share the blame for running down the economy – and us with it – with Train.

Fortunately, the people get a chance to even things out to some extent with some sterling names in the opposition: Neri Colmenares, Erin Tañada, Chel Diokno, Pilo Hilbay, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, and yes, Serge Osmeña. And, well, maybe one or two more. We can only hope these good people get in to act as a credible foil to this murderous and utterly venal administration.

The elections will, of course, again be a boon for political dynasties, starting with a most in-your-face display of “what are we in power for” dynastic politics by the brats of the madman-in-chief, their brazenness rivaled by a husband and wife who presumably live in the same house but who are running to represent two separate districts of their city.

In Negros Occidental, they tout a “show of unity” but all I see is a dark pact to consolidate and ensure their continued hold on power and wealth. By the way, whoever coined “Love U Na” should be exiled to the darkest corner of the copywriter’s hell, if one exists, but I guess that is how to see their constituents, fools easily entertained or bought off.

There is also little to fire up the imagination in Bacolod City except, perhaps, for young physician Jan Kevin Moises, who is seeking the congressional seat as an independent and whose health agenda alone should be a welcome antidote to the usual empty platitudes of election campaigns, and good friend Celia Flor whose bid to return to the city council, if successful, is sure to be a boon for women.

By all means, do go out and vote, if only to get in as many worthy candidates as possible in the hopes they, at the very least, help establish desperately needed pockets of good governance, decency, honesty and accountability in a political landscape long riddled by corruption and entitlement.

Not to mention that it’s as good an opportunity as any to try to get even and hit the evil MAD (Marcos, Arroyo, Duterte) triumvirate where it hurts.

But don't stop with the ballot. Like most other elections in the past, next year’s are unlikely to bring any meaningful change.

It is the existing system of governance, in which political expedience trumps all other considerations, allowing the corrupt and the abusive to thrive and impunity to reign, that is broken and badly needs, not just fixing, but replacement.