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.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.
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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.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.