According to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the biggest boost a presidential candidate can get in the 2016 elections is an endorsement from current President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III. “Everyone wants his anointment,” Lacierda reportedly said. Indeed, so important is this “anointment” that even presidential nemesis Vice President Jejomar Binay is willing to sellout to BS Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) in exchange for that winning blessing from the Son of Heroes.
This says a lot about Philippine politics. Despite years of political pundits pushing for “voters’ education”, an issues-based (as opposed to a personality-based) debate, and a focus on platforms to evaluate candidates’ merits, the national chatter in the lead up to the 2016 elections will still come down to the same voodoo-style mysticism. You can imagine the astounding damage to the country such a style of politics could wreak. Take Senate President Franklin Drilon’s belief that despite LP standard bearer Mar Roxas’s dismal popularity numbers, he will fly on the wings of BS Aquino’s support. “The endorsement of the President… whoever he will endorse will benefit [from it],” Drilon asserts, echoing Lacierda. Considering that Roxas’s weak character and bad administrative faculties have, for so long been laid bare before the public in times of crises, we may still see him as President of this sad nation!
It is difficult to see hope in ever seeing a Philippine electorate that chooses its leaders wisely. No less than the Senate President himself espouses this sort of thinking. Rather than encourage Filipinos to evaluate candidates on the basis of their vision for the Philippines, Drilon is encouraging them to vote on the back of a blind faith in President BS Aquino.
So it’s hardly surprising why Filipinos always have to suffer bad leaders. Because they:
(1) Limit their choices to traditional politicians who come from entrenched dynasties;
(2) Are too lazy to sort out bad from good on the basis of candidates’ platforms and strategic visions for the nation; and,
(3) Are too beholden to a comfort zone filled with notions of heroes, martyrs, and prayerful poets.
In short, it is par for the course that Filipinos in 2016 will apply that renowned national trait of theirs: Laziness.
To be specific, lazy thinking. When one is lazy in one’s thinking, one is also sloppy in one’s judgment. Mar Roxas botched pretty much every chance given to him by his boss to shine. And yet he is still considered to be a serious contender in the presidential elections of 2016, all on the basis of that much-coveted anointment by President BS Aquino. What does that say about the much-trumpeted (and much-assumed) “wisdom” in the majority vote in the Philippines.
Nowhere in the current National “Debate” has this simple topic been raised:
How do the current crop of ‘presidentiables’ envision the Philippines in 2022?
By 2022, the Philippines will likely have ballooned into a nation of more than 115 million people — like adding more than half the population of Australia in six years. The way things are going, it is likely that the majority of those Filipinos will live in the same wretched conditions they do today. So something different needs to be done to alter that current trajectory.
What could the next president achieve over that time to do just that? As usual (as in the last several elections), there is no answer — because Filipinos do not demand answers from their candidates, only dole-outs, dance numbers, and personal affiliations. That’s pretty much the extent to which Filipinos apply their minds in this most critical of coming democratic exercises.
Will the next president oversee the transformation of the Philippines into a nation that earns its place in a region of high-achievers — industrially strong, a producer of consequence, one that is self-sufficient and truly independent, a credible contributor to the dynamics of a much-envied community of nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)? Or will it remain the same beggar state that it is, scrounging around for “foreign investment”, sucking on the teat of its overseas foreign workers (OFWs), and pimping out the cheap labour on which astounding profits are raked in halfway around the world?
Until those sorts of discussions find a place in the Philippines’ political “debate”, Filipinos will forever be stuck — stuck within the same space their politicians prefer them to remain. The status quo remains so because someone benefits from it. Unfortunately for Filipinos, that beneficiary is not the majority but the same small handful of oligarchs whose political futures they presume to “debate” using their small-minded idea of what political “debate” is.
[Photo in meme courtesy Joanne Escober.]
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