Most Filipinos would rather stay in an abusive relationship than a healthy one. This is evident in the latest SWS survey result showing that most Filipinos are satisfied with Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s performance despite his government’s glaring incompetence and abuse of power.
In fact, those who are dissatisfied and who are calling for a snap election might just end up regretting it since BS Aquino’s popularity — if we are to believe survey firms owned and operated by family and friends of the Aquinos — hardly falters even in times of crisis. Unfortunately, a snap election held now would likely result in the incumbent President winning again. In short, the whole “democratic” exercise is futile when Filipino voters are concerned.
No wonder some people are wishing for a coup d’état instead. They should not hold their breath though because it is so easy for an incumbent with access to a bottomless barrel of funds to win back the support of the Filipino public and lull them into submission by hiring public relations firms and paying a few members of the media to write something “nice” about them.
As it is, it is already very hard to motivate Filipinos to do something to escape their own misery. Some people think the majority of Filipinos are just too lazy to stand up against tyranny or worse, are simply satisfied with the status quo. Likewise, it could also be a combination of Filipinos being in denial and being too scared of the unknown. They are in denial that something is wrong with the person they voted for and they are also scared that they might end up with someone “darker” and more “sinister”, which is why they stick to someone familiar or what they refer to as the “lesser evil” yet predictably mediocre.
When you read history books from around the world, you will realize that people from advanced societies took matters into their own hands by not only ousting their abusive leaders, they also executed them in public. The execution of King Louis XVI of France in 1792 comes to mind. The French revolutionaries showed no mercy in beheading him and his loved one Marie Antoinette. The Russian Imperial Romanov family also suffered a similar fate in the hands of hired assassins. The idea behind their elimination was to remove the chances of any member of the old aristocracy from ever resurfacing again and reclaiming power in the future.
In the Philippines however, members of ruling dynasties even get voted into power every election instead of being eliminated or executed for their corrupt activities. It will not be a surprise when Presidential sister and celebrity Kris Aquino wins a seat in Congress or even wins the coveted Presidency itself in the near future. And after her term ends, her sons will likely take over the reins running only on the “Aquino” name. After all, Senator Bam Aquino won a Senate seat using the same. His resemblance to slain former Senator and “hero” Ninoy especially when he wore a similar pair of spectacles in his campaign posters also helped him charm the voters.
Recent events are proving the Binays of Makati are giving the Aquinos a run for their money. Currently, the Binay clan has become very powerful with Patriarch Jejomar Binay as the Vice President, daugher Nancy as a Senator, Mar-Len Abigail Binay-Campos as Congresswoman of Makati and Jejomar Binay, Jr. or “Junjun” as Mayor of Makati City.
Junior Binay flexed his political muscle recently when he seemingly forced his way through an entry/exit point of a gated community despite a “no-exit after 10pm” policy enforced at that gate. He and his handlers simply argued and threatened the guards manning the gate and got their way in the end. As expected, his father and siblings in government defended his actions and claimed that his demand was simply an entitlement of his position as Mayor of Makati City. He will suffer no further consequence as a result of his seeming display of arrogance as recorded by the CCTV camera. This PR disaster might even work for him and win him another term as Mayor. That’s how pathetic the situation is in the Philippines. The Filipino voters love-hate relationship with the members of the dynasties is something for the books.
To be fair, it’s not only in the Philippines where dynasties flourish. An India Times article discussed this phenomenon in the past. Indeed, this also happens in places like India even with a parliamentary form of government. Some of the reasons mentioned in the article, which also applies to the Philippines is that “it is convenient for parties to turn to established brands rather than take a risk with a newcomer”. And, “with the kind of money needed to contest elections it’s difficult for fresh candidates to raise funds or resources to match incumbents or their family members.”
In other words, candidates who don’t have any funds or who do not get any financial support from anyone but who might have better ideas about running the country do not have a chance at all of winning an election. This is especially true in the Philippines with incumbents who use a big portion of the pork barrel funds or taxpayer’s money to finance members of his own political party who are running for government during an election.
The article further elaborates on why dynasties flourish in some parts of the world:
One reason for voter confidence in dynasts (sic) could be the inability to look beyond clan and kinship networks, which prompts voters to back a family over generations. Some political families are former royals who still command respect and fealty. A more compelling motive could be the belief that dynasts are more efficient distributors of patronage than a greenhorn trying to find his feet. Finally, in a perverse way political families might represent a safer bet to garner and allocate scarce resources since they’ve been doing it for generations and have a reputation at stake, compared to a newcomer who could either be inefficient or only interested in lining his own pocket.
Things could change only if political parties are forced to become more democratic due to pressure from voters, and there are drastic reforms in the way election campaigns are funded.
The last paragraph could be a key to changing the political climate in the Philippines. It is simply a matter of the voters getting wiser and punishing erring government during elections by not voting for any politician associated with a political party that has a record of abusing their power in the past and who doesn’t have a platform or vision for the future of the nation. Some political parties in the Philippines like the Liberal Party seem more focused in retaining their power than improving the lives of the Filipino people.
Likewise, the incumbent President should not be allowed to use taxpayer’s funds to support his “Team” during elections. For instance, it was absolutely absurd when BS Aquino kept joining the campaign prior to the mid-term elections in May 2013 for his party’s candidates. Unfortunately, most of the members of the public didn’t see anything wrong with him using the government’s resources during the campaign. People don’t realize that Presidential funds could have been used during the previous election campaign. No wonder most unknowns and underfunded candidates didn’t stand a chance.
Lastly, an anti-dynasty law will help eliminate political dynasties from flourishing in the Philippines. At the moment, Filipinos are “free” to vote for anyone they prefer including those who have had insignificant accomplishments in the past. An anti-dynasty law can end the abusive relationship Filipinos have with a public servant like BS Aquino.
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