Cory Aquino and the dumbing down of Philippine Media the root cause of decline in quality of Filipino legislators

Harry Roque’s law partner Joel Ruiz Butuyan complains about the quality of Senators but doesn’t put the finer on who should be blamed. Butuyan writes in his Inquirer column “Comparing past and present senators” today of “the faces of senators of the past renowned for their brilliance, juxtaposed with pictures of senators of the present who are regularly ridiculed.”

But, see, that’s actually on the leaders who tolerated the culture of mediocrity. Prior to the 1986 “revolution” that toppled the government of President Ferdinand Marcos, how many actors won elective office? Only one if my memory serves me right, Joseph Estrada. Rogelio De La Rosa ran but withdrew from the race. Actors confined themselves to local government unit (LGU) races for Councilor.

It was the Cory Aquino administration which opened the floodgates to actors switching over to politics. This was made possible by the TV networks which switched over to totally gross programming standards. Pilipino became the norm. The nightly newscast and FM radio stations weren’t spared. Even the anchors themselves became celebrities in their own right which saw the election of Noli De Castro to the Senate and Ted Failon to Congress.

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Butuyan writes…

According to people’s reminiscences of politics before the Marcos dictatorship began in 1972, politicians of those years captivated the masses with their eloquent speeches, and crowds trooped to election rallies to be enthralled by the oratorical brilliance of their leaders. Our parents and grandparents chose their leaders based on superior intelligence, sterling track record, impressive academic credentials, and unblemished reputation.

What Butuyan will not admit is standards were lowered post-Marcos. The bastardization of institutions went into high-gear. Post-graduate degrees were for sale. This is why government bureaucracy is in a sorry state as well. Appointees and career officials may meet the qualifying standards but don’t have either or both the competence and the experience. Sadly even the better educated on paper are also lackluster. Just look at Drilon and De Lima. The Vice-President takes the cake. She doesn’t articulate like a lawyer. You can’t make much out of her statements because they’re basically word salads in a mix of English and Pilipino.

The main culprit is the freewheeling liberal-leftist democracy we have. There is no emphasis on discipline and high standards for government service. Government has actually become the dumping ground of the mediocre. Contrast this with Singapore where potential leaders are subject to rigorous training in terms of educational background and experience. The Senators of today hire intelligent staff members to do their thinking and write speeches for them. Diligence is also sorely lacking. In place of this is complete staff work but this is dependent on the quality of the staff they hire. Good talent is also a rarity these days. What makes it worst is hiring is also not based on qualifications but connections and loyalty to the principal.

This is why we have barely competent elected and appointed officials occupying government posts. If we want the country to become respected then we should put in the hard work of reforms in the socio-political and economic aspects of society. Otherwise we will continue our descent into becoming a nation of morons.

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