The Philippines’ current list of “potential” candidates is very disappointing. Most of them are from the same crop of bozos from the country’s current ruling class. Their membership to this “elite” club means they are first loyal to their families and friends before they are loyal to the country and its people in general. Therefore, it is almost a guarantee that candidates from this group will more than likely continue the world-renowned Filipino tradition of patronage politics or padrino system, which is a system that makes a mockery of the country’s institutions and undermines the democratic principle of rule of law.
It’s not just the list of candidates some people are worried about. The country’s automated election system or precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines have zero credibility with some sectors of Philippine society. There are people who believe that the machines can be rigged the same way they have been saying it was rigged during the 2010 Presidential elections. They believe that a lot of those who won the last two elections may have been products of vote rigging. This includes President Benigno Simeon Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay. Calls to investigate their claims and scrap the use of the PCOS machines are unfortunately, falling on deaf ears. That is not surprising considering the alternative, which is manual counting of the ballots that takes weeks to conduct and potentially deadly for those manning the ballot boxes.
The Presidency is big business in the Philippines. Whoever wins will have access to bottomless funds from taxpayers and various revenue generating entities. He or she can divert the use of said funds to his “priority” projects. These projects can include bribing Congress into approving his self-serving policies using pork barrel funds. He or she will also have a say albeit indirectly, in the approval of contractors for various infrastructure projects. In other words, whoever wins the Presidency can act like a king and treat the Philippines like his or her personal fiefdom similar to what BS Aquino has been doing since Day One of his Presidential term.
A President acting like a monarch in the Philippines is partly the fault of the Filipino people for allowing it to happen in the first place. In other decent societies, the people would have rioted or stormed the Presidential gates years ago once news got out that the President used public funds to bribe Congress just to impeach his political enemy in the Supreme Court. Not in the Philippines. Filipinos are too “patient” and “forgiving”. To be precise, Filipinos are too beholden to their public servants especially when the public servant has a popular name and is related to a celebrity. Most astounding of all, those who criticize these public servants tend to get labeled as “negative”.
Some of BS Aquino’s critics for example, say that the President cannot solve everything. What they are saying is true. The President of the Philippines cannot solve all the problems in the country. However, he or she can make things worse. And this is true in the case of BS Aquino. Because he prioritized the wrong things – like the persecution of his political enemies instead of spurring infrastructure upgrade and fostering unity and love of country – the situation in the Philippines became even worse. One just needs to look at the traffic situation in Manila, which has been ranked as the 5th worst in the world, and the appalling condition of the public train system. The government’s slow response to natural disasters and degrading treatment of victims of tragedies are also proof that not much has changed since BS Aquino took over. Victims of super typhoon Yolanda can attest to this. They still live in shabby conditions years later and have yet to see the donations from around the world in goods and in cash. The funds are reportedly unaccounted for and the goods have since rotted away in the warehouses of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The fact of the matter is, if the country’s systems were enforced and institutions respected, the President’s job would not be so complicated. It would still be hard due to the number of problems he has to deal with but it wouldn’t be as convoluted as it is now. A classic example is BS Aquino’s proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Because BS Aquino and his peace panel came up with an agreement that is against the law starting with negotiating with known terrorist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the peace process in Mindanao has been stalled. BS Aquino’s deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front also resulted in the massacre of 44 Special Action Forces by members of the rebel forces during a legitimate police operation in the terrorist’s haven.
The bottom line is, in the Philippines, leaders lead the way in breaking the law. No wonder even regular folks refuse to follow the law or do not recognize the law. The biggest irony of all is that BS Aquino himself, in a lot of instances, refuses to uphold the country’s Constitution, which is often referred to as the Cory Constitution.
So far, the possible contenders for the next Presidential Elections is a good indication of what the future holds for the Philippines. This early we are seeing potential candidates like Senator Grace Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas pandering to the irrational and disruptive actions of a powerful religious sect, the Iglesia ni Cristo, just to gain their block votes. Their statements defending the sect’s actions shows the lengths with which they will go to just to win the coveted Presidential post. This includes disrespecting the country’s institutions and disregarding the systems in place. They are not going to be good for the country at all. Filipinos need to find someone who can uphold the country’s institutions and unite the nation.
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