EDITORIAL - Politics as a profession
(The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Maybe Senator Koko Pimentel is truly a principled man, in which case he leaves a lot of people wondering about the professional and career choices he made. The self-righteousness with which Pimentel proclaims his principles gives people the impression he should be a pope instead.

This is not to say Pimentel should throw his principles out the window. But to carry on about having to share the stage with the man he believes cheated him in the elections does not make sense in a country that has seen far worse political imponderables.

Pimentel must remember that his fight with Juan Miguel Zubiri was for the 12th and last slot in the 2007 senatorial elections. One would have thought a man so hot on principles would at least be fighting for a place in the top three.

To be sure, one would have wished Filipino voters gave a damn about principles so that candidates of Pimentel’s caliber would not have to hang by their nails for the last slot. But sad though it may be for us to underscore it, that is simply the way it is in this country.

Sure, the president has been proclaiming to all and sundry that changing the mindset of Filipinos and shepherding them along the straight and narrow is the priority of his government. But two years into his term and the only thing he can show for it is the fall of his enemies.

Which is hardly a very principled way of leading by example. Instead, what the reality on the ground is telling us is that there is so much lip-service going on, of chest-thumping and crocodile tears crying but none of the selfless acts that can make an entire nation sit up.

Sympathy does not come automatically to every cry of cheating in a country where cheating is the norm. Besides, the real difficulty in eradicating cheating is not because it is already engrained in the Filipino psyche but because cheating comes in a wide variety of forms.

Pimentel is being naive if he thinks electoral cheating only involves some hanky-panky with the votes. But it is just as much cheating to buy votes or to give snacks or to even ferry voters to polling places.

One does not have to actually steal a vote to cheat. For every word or act that a person does to take advantage of a situation to favor himself unduly over others is a form of cheating. That is why, as someone once said, no man can adopt politics as a profession and remain honest.

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