Why do Filipinos keep voting for crooks?

What’s in Filipinos’ heads everytime they go to the polling booth on election day? That’s the million dollar question every politician wants the answer to. For that matter, it’s the question that’s flumoxed political analysts for decades. And it is specially relevant now that much of the Executive and Legislative branches have been revealed for what they are — a bunch of crooks.

Philippine politics: A tiring cycle of voting for crooks then protesting their actions while in office
Philippine politics: A tiring cycle of voting for crooks then protesting their actions while in office
Why are the folks who inhabit Malacanang and Congress a bunch of crooks? Two words: pork barrel. Pork is money (incarnated in various forms over the decades) set aside by Malacanang for the purpose of bribing legislators. Thus, pork is the single biggest reason why the Philippine government is crooked — because it is the common criminal denominator underlying both the executive and legislative branches of the Philippine government.

Whereas, the three branches of government under Philippine-style “democracy” is, by design, supposed to keep one another in check, pork is what greases the conflict-of-interest that is the Malacanang-Congress tandem of thievery. Without pork, Congress would have no reason to kiss Malacanang’s ass. Without pork, politicians would find a reason to seek a seat in Congress that is a lot more noble than the opportunity to play Santa Claus by funneling chunks of the national budget into their constituents’ trivial “projects” and, of course, into their personal bank accounts.

Most important of all, without motivation to kiss Malacanang’s ass and with a more noble regard for their respective seats in Congress, members of Congress would be able to focus on aspiring to what being a legislator is really all about — crafting laws that are in the nation’s best interests.

Are these key principles that speak to the badness of pork hard to understand? Obviously they are — which is why the Philippines, at the moment, is engaged in a monumental “debate” over the fate of pork. Despite various rulings by the Supreme Court, on specific flavours of pork, pork allegedly still exists in this year’s proposed national budget.

Why then do Filipinos continue to vote for people who like their pork?

Some say that the answer to that question is complicated. For me it is simple. Filipinos keep voting for pork-chomping crooks because they do not know how to think. Rather than choose politicians on the basis of what they stand for, what national issues they consider to be paramount, what positions they take on controversial topics of national consequence, and what plans they have to change the Philippines’ wretched situation, they go to the polls equipped with a dismal understanding of the consequences of their choices.

Worst of all, Filipinos do not really understand what legislators do and what their role is in government. They think it is the job of legislators to fund and execute projects. That is not what legislators are supposed to be doing. The job of a House Representative and a Senator is to represent their constituencies in an overall collective effort to create laws and keep improving upon existing ones. Everything legislators do, whether it be conducting hearings, inquiries, and “probes”, schmoozing with their constituents, or meeting with members of the Executive branch should all be undertaken in aid of legislation. Nothing else. To do their job, legislators do not need pork.

Again, quite simple, really, but evidently a vast notion that is hopelessly beyond the grasp of the average Filipino mind.

And so come 2016, Filipinos will again go out and vote equipped with nothing more than their stunted intellectual faculties. For the politicians bidding for the lucrative offices on offer in 2016, it will be like fishing from a barrel. No need for a vision for the Philippines, no need for a roadmap to prosperity, no need for a platform. All they need are corny slogans, tired old catchphrases, and a good head for the medieval demons that haunt their constituents’ psyches.

What Filipinos will get the next election is the same government they have today, and the same one they had before the current one, and the one before that — a comfy den of crooks all feasting on pork.

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36 Comments on “Why do Filipinos keep voting for crooks?”

  1. Filipinos also keep voting for crooks because their thinking is “what’s in it for me?”. As long as Filipinos keep asking for freebies and dole-outs from their politicians, these will continue to be funded by pork.

    It’s, as you pointed out, politicians playing Santa Claus on an oblivious electorate.

  2. Indeed, why are the Marcoses back in power? They would make the Binays, Estradas, and Revillas look like beggars in terms of money looted from the public coffers.

    1. Indeed, why are the Aquinos and their allies are still in power? They, along with the oligarchs are also not just thieves but also murderers as well.

      HYPOCRISY much? 😀

    2. 99.9% of politicians are Crooks!
      You just have to choose the lesser evil.
      Marcos’s are not perfect.
      Admit it or not,
      Ferdinand Marcos is the only president who
      put Philippines to its highest status.
      The rest that succeeded just rob the country to its fullest.
      I’d rather have Marcos (particularly BB to continue his fathers legacy)run the country than any of them bastards waiting for their turn to get their filthy hands in the country’s coffer.

  3. What is the motive for someone to seek public office?

    Is it to serve the public interest?

    Is increasing the salary of the public official enough to eliminate corruption?

    I believe that people do not really understand the difference between the role of a congressman from a governor.

  4. As I have said before, many Filipinos still don’t know the main functions and responsibilities of their leaders both in national and local level. This is the reason why they keep putting those undeserving politicians into office just because they are giving alms to the poor or simply by having a smooth eloquent warm conversation with them while smiling as a simple pseudo sign of being a good managers.

    Since not all Filipinos are aware of the local government code and the mandates of constitution, it is now time to educate the electorates about the role of their leaders. A policy which authorizes the duty of the public officials to be strictly plastered within their place outside the public offices in a vernacular words would greatly help to enlightening the minds of masses and this must be adhered definitely. This will be the basis to overseeing the duties of their leaders while they are in office. Also, it would serve as the main source of complaints from their constituents if failure arises on the side of officials while performing their duties aside from the promises they harped about before elections.

    Perchance, this is a better way of making the voters make wise of their own choosing during elections. Would result in being ashamed of continuously asking freebees from their leaders. The politicians would also end this long tradition that markedly portrays outside of their main functions.

    The main point here is being transparent and accountable in the execution of duties and responsibilities vital to the relationship between leaders and followers for the greater good of the nation. A form of spoon-feeding if strictly followed may be a good start for a critical analysis needed to be installed in the minds of uninformed Filipino citizens.

  5. @jigs

    you raised a good point.

    The question now is: Who is mandated to educate the voters regarding the concept of government? COMELEC? Political parties?

    And if so, why is there no massive and intensive voter‘s education?

    No plan? No budget?

  6. Thank you, Jigs! Finally, someboby came up with something with more sense. Let’s just find a way to educate our countrymen! Is there a way we can mobilize young people to be engaged in this endeavor? Can we pose a challenge to them to rise in their own communities and lead this movement? We are not lacking in leaders, we just have to motivate them and point them in the right direction.

  7. We are a population of 97.7 million and for the life of me there is not ONE HONEST, INCORRUPTIBLE politician that we can find to lift us out of this misery. Very frustrating!

    1. Waiting for a father figure to lift us out of our misery is part of the problem. We are the intelligentsia. How many of us are involved in community activism? In school boards? in working for progressive candidates? Or do we just sit in our ivory towers and wring our hands? GRP is a good start. Where do we take it from here?

      1. Seabee, you hit the nail on the head. Yes, how many of us just sit in judgment and not do anything. GRP, do something to incite people to get involved!

      2. Problem is the ones who strive to make a difference are ridiculed and shamed at best and murdered at worst. It’s simple crab mentality at work.

        Don’t want to be a negative Nelly, but that’s how things are in the Philippines. Have to do something about ridding that toxic attitude first.

  8. Why do Filipinos keep voting for crooks?

    1. Because many love political carnivals/circuses and because they are ignorant unschooled and gullible. Oh yeah they
    love song and dance numbers.

    2. Because many love vote buying and are corrupted by the corrupt politicians.

    3. Because many love doleouts like CCT and Pantawid including cash doles before, during
    and after elections.

    4. Because there no local or national debates that will allow smart choices for the electorate to choose.

    5. Because the COMELEC is part of the problem!

    6. Because of political patronage!

    7. Because many of the people are deceived by
    political slogans and promises including
    black propaganda lies and manipulated
    surveys!

    8. Because media can be bought!

    Name your own…

    1. Its more like window dressing, a handsome/pretty face a false facade, a defective psyche, amoral etc. Most of the people are sold to politicians who act more like showbiz personalities. Glitz attracts people without brains… get?

      1. WOW, you are a genius.

        Although being ‘ammoral’ is a good thing in politics…as morals are often mis-used to justify all sorts of hideous acts!

  9. I am a Filipino…and I still cannot understand why people vote these Crooks into public offices. Erap Estrada, the convicted plunderer is elected as Mayor of Manila…Manila is supposed to be the intellectual HUB of the country…

    Either Filipinos are mostly mentally retarded; or they don’t care…”Bahala Na” attitude…Garbage in, Garbage out…We got Garbage in public services..

  10. This begs me to ask these two simple questions… should everyone still have the right to suffrage? Or should they prove it first?

  11. >> What’s in Filipinos’ heads everytime they go to the polling booth on election day?

    Absolutely nothing at all. All the average politican has to do is fill it with nonsense of his own choosing. Add 500 pesos, and the spell is complete.

  12. @ interxavier: good point. With so many Filipinos doing the way they do, I am more of the belief that the right to suffrage shouldn’t be given to just any Tom, Dick, or Harry. I think people have to prove themselves worthy of that right.

  13. From the Facebook group, I posted:
    1. Mass media, like the crime hero movies of the seventies, help the people see crooks as heroes.
    2. Crooks are actually among the elite of the country, so they have much control, even over the government institutions.

    1. Forgot this point:
      3. The Philippine jologs media are actually targeting the middle class, not the poor. In order to de-power the middle class and help make them poorer, because it affects their habits and decisions.

  14. That’s not only the issue here. Because of the 1987 constitution, it does not limit any citizen esp uneducated showbiz personality to be in politics. The main job for legislators is to write laws, how the hell can a uneducated citizen who was voted to office esp in the senate able to write laws? Equal rights? Ya right. But you still have to be qualified. Surgeons could not perform heart surgeries unless they have a medical degree and years spent as an intern. Many politicians like Miriam Santiago spent decades understanding the constitution. In a blink of an eye, a popular uneducated and unqualified politician are being elected in office like m. Pacquiao (he spent more time playing basketball), Lito Lapid, bong Revilla ( who now in jail), Lani mercado…….. More more….

  15. @ benign0: “Worst of all, Filipinos do not really understand what legislators do and what their role is in government.”

    It’s not that Filipinos “do not understand what legislators do”, it’s really because majority of them don’t care to understand. It’s too tedious for their lazy and parasitic mindset.

    First of all, what is the sense of loyalty to most of the new generation of Filipinos? MONEY!

    Evidently it can be observed in most of the peoples’ daily way of life and thinking.

    During election times, voters’ accepting bribes from politicians is common in community conversations.

    During rallies/demonstrations, most people marching in the streets are paid by the organizers starting from as low as P50 plus a snack of very cheap sandwich and artificially flavored juice per person.

    For majority of Filipinos to be more concerned about the future welfare of their country much more of their posterity is not profitable at all.

    Because they have very cheap perceptions concerning their food (almost everything is just artificially flavored and unreal i.e. hamburger, milk, chocolate, mayonnaise, etc.), means of transportation (very uncomfortable and unsafe), clothing and even their dignity, a free snack costing less than a hundred pesos is often enough for them to sell their souls and that of their children’s and great-great grandchildren.

    The most ironic of all is that they proudly shout to the whole world that this is the essence of their “Pinoy pride” and “Ako’y Pinoy, may agimat sa dugo…”, as part of a lyric of one of the OPM.

  16. From the 1987 Constitution on Article V: Suffrage…

    “Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.”

    Hmm…

    “No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.”

    There’s your problem. It’s like saying anyone can own an AR-15 rifle regardless of “literacy, property, other substantive requirement.”

  17. hindi pa ako bumoto sa buong buhay ko. kung boboto ako pero hindi naman confident sa lahat ng kandidato eh wag na lang. sayang lang oras ko.

  18. I think Araling Panlipunan classes should stop the discussion on history in the upper years of secondary high school and instead prepare the youth to become better voters by giving them an honest situationer on what’s really happening. Plus they should be educated regarding their responsibilities as voters and as citizens. They should also be educated in the functions of government agencies, officials, etc. That way they could possibly come up with better decisions about who to vote when the time comes for them to exercise their right to suffrage.

  19. I like all the good comments and great suggestions here and all are good healthy information that makes sense …the need to get rid of crooks who are currently in government offices and preventing crooks from getting into government offices. I know how everyone and myself is frustrated and mad on what is going on in the Philippines like the plundering. What can we do about it? I like the suggestions given by most here and agree that

    1) to change back the laws and requirements to qualify a person to enter any government office including disqualify anyone with previous offenses

    2) to educate the public specially the large segment of poor and the squatters who are mostly uneducated and the main recipients of these bribes, cakes and are main targets of these crook officials. Educate the poor with real news and information and townhall meetings, start a grassroots campaign to change bad habits and the way they vote and to think for the good of the country. Get the young involved.

    3) have a watch group to monitor election polling stations for bribing and vote box switching and reward whistle blowers.

    The newspapers should continue to expose all these crooks relentlessly until it sticks on everyone’s minds so no one will forget. Go further by adding them on history books not only to bring shame on the accused but to remind everyone not to follow.

    I was not born there but went to school in the philippines and Love it like my own country.
    I am sure there are more suggestions but someone has to start somewhere and it needs actions by many. Don’t lose hope, it can be a long battle but can be done.

  20. As the old saying says: “right education begins at home”.

    Based on personal observation on many families (middle and lower class segments) in different parts of the country during my travels, obviously this is not true. Actually it’s in contrast.

    Perhaps based on this personal observation this is the obvious evidence of prevalent and nauseating corruption, brazen wiliness and deceptive practices in the government.

    The saddest part of all is that “good manners right conduct” is not even given appropriate emphasis in school to supplement shortfall of virtuous parenting in most middle and lower class families of the country.

    Having said this, what kind of hope awaits the future of this country?

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