Pacete: Hippodrome of Philippine politics


WE ALWAYS want to have a Philippine run by Filipinos. Those who want to run the government should first win the election. All candidates are expecting to win but only the will of the electorates can make them win. Then there’s the spectacle of Philippine politics. (I don’t want to call it a circus).

To get elected, the candidate has to spend a fortune. (One can lose his inheritance for politics). Those running for national positions could start with millions and end with billions.

Candidates would spend for newspaper, billboard, radio, and television ballyhoo. In order to win, a candidate needs a battalion of campaign workers, especially those who are running for president, vice president, and senators.

Quality campaign workers need to be paid and fed. They cannot work with empty stomach and barren wallet. These bright guys necessitate a fat travel expense to fulfill their mission. It is alleged that many politicians allot millions to sweeten the deal with the voters. (I don’t say it’s bribe money. Filipino culture does not accept that). At any rate, money is an important ingredient to attain victory. You can disagree with me.

The national handlers are the big bosses but there are also local bosses running the show. Under them, there are fixers to trouble shoot what is hard to hit. (We don’t want to believe that politicians have also goons to be paid).

To narrow down our imagination, there are experts and specialists working under the local bosses. (We all know that.) If local bosses hire them, they don’t work for free but for a fee considering the nature of their work. Hiring them is more than business venture.

There is a prohibitive cost for winning an election in our country and that could be the reason why some politicians are obliged to kowtow to the rich and the famous. They are the minor gods with private planes, bus companies, ships, and chains of malls.

Politicians need benefactors and election financers. We can call them godfathers, king makers, or simply “The Most High.” If the candidates win, they could bend some rules for the gods.

The spending does not stop if the candidate wins. A congressman or a senator from the province needs a house (presentable mansion) in Manila while working in the House of Representatives or Senate. Mr. Congressman or Mr. Senator needs to enhance his house in his district or his province. Mrs. Congressman or Mrs. Senator may want to show (and tell her “kumares”) that a beautiful house is a symbol of being honorable.

Both houses (Manila and province) should have legislative staff to attend to the needs of the constituents. They have to be paid handsomely. This honorable legislator now needs aides (also for the wife), bodyguards, image makers, media men, and organized “purok” and “barangay” leaders for his reelection (three years after). He has to accommodate his relatives and friends as members of his permanent cheering squad.

There are also non-relatives who would form a line and ask financial assistance… aid for pageant candidate, wedding, basketball league, fiesta celebration, medicine bill, school supplies, calamities, etc. The honest income of Mr. Senator or Mr. Congressman may not be enough to handle the request from the constituents considering that there is no pork barrel now.

Politicians may now use their power and influence to survive political disaster in their career. They have no choice but to use their power and influence to keep afloat. The rest is history. We know how our national leaders withstand and even develop a comfort zone in their habitat. With this in mind, we remember what former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said, “The Philippine political system has all but collapsed, having become rotten to the core.”

Former President Ferdinand Marcos has also his statement, “The Philippines is a sick society desperately in need of reforms…” Senator Ninoy Aquino made his comment also, “If I were to become president of the Philippines, I would establish some sort of an authoritarian regime that would put things in order in the country.”

I love what former President Fidel Ramos said, “This is a challenge to our leadership today: that we cast away the old politics that divides us and work together instead for the common good and the national welfare.” That is Philippine politics. Care to dare? Don’t be funny!

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