I’ve been seeing a lot of views being aired about the emerging sameness in how the coming 2013 elections is being shaped by traditional Philippine politics. This time, the buzzword is “dynasties” — how the sons and daughters of aging politicians are stepping up to claim the offices and realms held and ruled respectively by their parents to ensure that the on-going efforts to secure their clans’ respective interests are continued.
Even before the word became the buzz amongst the chattering classes, I had already pointed out early this year the insidious way with which dynastic political collusion laid the groundwork for the delivery of specific outcomes using supposedly fair and transparent “due process”. During the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona which transfixed Filipinos over much of the first half of 2012, father-son-brother tandems seemingly worked the Lower and Upper chambers of Congress like a tag team…
Juan Edgardo Angara (Aurora) (Son of Senator-Judge Edgardo J Angara who voted â€œConvictâ€) is both a signatory of the impeachment complaint against Corona and one of the spokespersons of the prosecution team in the trial. He is serving his third term as representative of the lone district of Aurora. During the impeachment trial, his father, Senator Angara, refused to be inhibited as Senator-Judge in the trial despite the younger Edgardo holding a key position within the prosecution panel.
Joseph Victor Ejercito (San Juan) (Brother of Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada who voted â€œConvictâ€) â€“ JV Ejercito succeeded his brother Jinggoy as mayor of San Juan City in 2001 and held that office until he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010. Ejercito had expressed plans to run for a Senate seat in 2013. During the impeachment trial, Ejercito had contradicted the sworn testimony of Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco that the House leadership did not force any member of the Lower House to sign the impeachment complaint against Corona.
Jack Enrile (Cagayan) (Son of Senator-Judge and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who voted â€œConvictâ€) â€“ Legendary â€œspoiled bratâ€ who was â€œonce suspected of having his bodyguards shoot down a guy who stared at him in a nightclub.â€ (Domini M. Torrevillas, â€œDemythologizing Jack Enrileâ€ Philippine Star) and allegedly linked to a â€œnumber of â€˜incidentsâ€™, ranging from the supposed suicide of his sisterâ€™s boyfriend, to the shooting of perceived enemies and criticsâ€ (Rina Jimenez-David â€œThe mythology around Jack Enrileâ€ Inquirer.net).
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…and underlying all this at an even deeper, more fundamental, level is the reality that political parties in the Philippines are no more than election winning machines — devoid of any real philosophical or ideological underpinning. This has always been the most evident feature of democratic politics in the Philippines, the lack of any meaningful substance beneath the veneer of good intentions, colourful symbols, and catchy slogans.
“Opposition” parties which traditionally tap into a well that owes its supply of vote-generating-sympathy to the Filipino’s renowned victim mentality condition always make their pitch all about the “evils” of the incumbent and how they are supposedly in solidarity with other movements, initiatives, and organisations (such as other parties) in mounting a “united” effort to reform the Philippines’ tired democracy — starting with the immediate removal of the incumbent. This, for example, has long been the tagline of the so-called “Black and White Movement”, a “movement” that seemingly does not have a definition of purpose that goes beyond opposing anyone who is against Aquino-Cojuangco yellowist interests….
The Black and White Movement say they beg to differ. They call the perception that the Opposition “have no real agenda except to remove GMA” a myth and instead profess the “truth” that:
Many in the opposition have clear advocacies and agenda for good governance […]. And there are some in the opposition today who were reformists within the GMA administration.
But of course.
“Many in the opposition” do have clear individual advocacies (agendas would probably be the better choice of word). But that does not necessarily mean that they are united in spirit as an Opposition group in any way more profound than the name (“Genuine Opposition”) that they go by. History shows that once the typical “opposition” objective (removal of an incumbent) is achieved, the lofty ideals of any “united” opposition (past and present) vaporise as well. Each moron politician that was originally part of the preceding “united opposition” then goes his/her own way to found his or her own splinter “party” and pursue their own respective personal agendas. “United” opposition parties or alliances in the Philippines are almost always unions of convenience, no more than that.
True enough, despite pages and pages of blurb on the need for “reform” all over the Black & White Movement website, it all came down to this statement by “helga” (one of the B&WM owners) in a comment in their blog:
[…]it would be a no brainer list, really. Everyone from Team Arroyo would be on the Black List. No fun in that.
This was referring to how the Movement presumes to classify Philippine politicians into Black (no-vote) and White (yes-vote!) as a “guide” to the electorate in their efforts to “elect into Congress men and women of moral courage…”. To which they add “…who will exact accountability from the GMA regime for the unabated corruption and extrajudicial killings”.
This sort of prevalent systematic oversimplification and overt demagoguery of such movements for so long has consistently succeeded at diverting the flaky attention spans of Filipinos from the reality that there really are no genuine good intentions in politics — only the personal and clan interests that are the only goods of value being traded between personalities and their parties.
Why then are we surprised only now that the perpetuation of dynasties are what Philippine “elections” are really all about despite in-your-face evidence that that has always been the case in the Philippines since time immemorial? Who knows? Filipinos have long exhibited a talent for being blissfully ignorant — or just lazily oblivious — of obvious problems and the even more obvious solutions of these.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.