A joke of an event

STRAWS IN THE WIND (The Freeman) - October 16, 2015 - 10:00am

Once again the election season has come to this country. The filing of certificates of candidacy started a few days ago and would be candidates are now queuing at COMELEC offices to formally declare their intention to run for various elective posts, local or national.

Nothing wrong with this, really, except that along with the honest-to-goodness aspirants charlatans and simpletons have joined the fray. Nuisance candidates, these are: But our fractured election law allows them to get chalked up as candidates.

So as of today (October 16) there are 76 candidates for president. Out of these only Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay, and Mar Roxas can be considered "serious" candidates. The rest of the COC holders? They are all doubtful contenders with doubtful political affiliations or none at all. Among them two or three may be psychologically sound, but most must have been suffering from some kind of character imbalances.

Nevertheless, media are only too happy to play up these people and their jokes of a platform which, telecast nationwide, the joke has become a national disgrace. There ought to be a law against the free-for-all acceptance of COC's. But the law of the land allows this, and so the joke goes on. It's electoral democracy, some social observes said. Yes, it's democracy. But in the context of our current social order our so-called democracy is becoming a big joke.

That's why Filipinos no longer take elections seriously. For decades since we became independent elections have come and gone. President after another president has occupied the Pasig office with his or her own policy framework and style of governance, but the country instead of progressing has continued to retrogress.

"Pareho ra na sila" commented our laundry woman when asked who was her favorite presidentiable. She had reasons to be skeptical because her mother used to wash clothes, too, as did her grandmother. Current statistics indicates three out of 10 families are poor in category. This, despite the high GDP registered in the last few years. Unemployment and underemployment have registered more than 10 million. Hunger and homelessness have characterized the lot of these people. And everyday some 5,000 Filipinos are getting out of the country to find jobs abroad.

What's wrong with the presidents we sent to Malacañang?

And so another elections season has come. May nine is the red-letter day. Every day from now until that day is circus day. The campaign period is still far off. But who cares? There are many ways of winning votes within or outside the campaign period. Trust the trapos–they never run short of tricks to trap votes for their selfish cause.

Buying votes is of course the traditional way of garnering votes. It's against the law and against morally accepted standard. But like other election laws, who bothers to comply? Time was when the practice was carried out secretly. Time was when to win the people's mandate through the power of banknotes was looked upon as reprehensible. But the years have warped the edges of our social conscience. Now only the fool of a candidate does not buy votes, nor try to win electors' favors through doleouts.

I know of an idealistic candidate, a lay minister actually, who never countenanced winning an elective office through dispensing favors. At one time while campaigning in a barangay a group of basketball players asked him for some cold drinks. His response: Sorry, I forgot my wallet. And when a couple visited him at home and asked for money for medicine, he advised them to go and see the social welfare officer. How do you think this fellow fared when the votes were counted? He landed at the bottom of the list of councilorial candidates.

Philippine election is no longer a contest of leadership and competence. It has become a joke of an event in which the big bettors win. No wonder life is becoming difficult for the average Filipino while our neighbors in other Asian countries are faring better.



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