Just less than 12 months in the lead up to the 2016 elections and there is hardly any talk about which presidentiable has what strategic vision for the country. Instead, all the talk surrounds who is for or against who amongst the power brokers and which election winning machine (also glibly known as political parties in the Philippines) is going to back who.
So much for modern “democratic” practice. It turns out Filipinos remain irrevocably comfy with pedigree platforms whenever there are elections. At the forefront of the popularity battle (if we are to believe these “surveys”) is Senator Grace Poe who is known for nothing more than her being the daughter of the late movie idol Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ).
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Strangely enough, the so-called Philippine “intelligentsia” is abuzz over the usual politico-speculation. What is it exactly they are “debating”? Nothing of substance that is of any intellectual consequence as far as the future of the Philippines is concerned. The only stake that current Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III may have in all this is whether or not he will be thrown in prison after 2016 on account of the gazillions he and his henchman Budget Secretary Butch Abad applied their creative “accounting” to in order to fund their pet “projects”.
It’s not as if a lack of experience, inherent skill, leadership qualities, and statesmanship will stop any bozo from ascending the Philippine presidency. The incumbent himself, President BS Aquino won despite being the most unqualified among otherwise brilliant candidates in 2010. Unfortunately for Filipinos, 2016 may go down in history as the most brain-dead presidential election in history. This time none of the candidates even come close to the minimum bar of statesmanship chops that make real national leaders. To be fair, none of this matters to ordinary Filipino voters who, even when faced with good choices, tend to vote for the worst option.
Truth be told, Filipinos are mere lemmings. It is one thing to be mere followers of a leader. Not ideal, but if Filipinos are lucky enough to find a good one, at least they will be following that goodness. Unfortunately, Filipinos are worse than followers. Their lemming-like behaviour predisposes them to panicked rushes in droves towards non-goals prodded from behind. Proof of this can be found in asking a Filipino the following two simple questions:
(1) What is a specific long-term goal Filipinos should aspire to seeing their country achieve, say, in six years; and,
(2) What is it about your choice of president that makes him or her the best person to execute towards that goal?
Filipinos, from the lowliest most ordinary of schmoes up to the most pompous of self-appointed “thought leaders” will probably be left scratching their heads mulling over possible answers to these two simple questions. Why? Because Philippine elections have traditionally never been about the future.
Participants in the Philippines’ national “debate” surrounding the 2016 elections today can be likened to a bunch of birds applying their bird brains to the noble cause of pecking at each other over breadcrumbs thrown at them by a bag lady at the park, not knowing that the big loaf from which these crumbs come from are held by the lady close to her chest beyond their reach.
There is bliss in the thought of being in a competitive “search for insight” in the company of the bird brained — which is why the Philippine national “debate” rages on in all its noisy glory. What are Filipino voters looking for? Besides identifying the next “winnable” one, the more important task of imagining a Philippines six years hence seems to be beyond the capabilities of the intellectually-bankrupt people that comprise Philippine society.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.