Monday, July 2, 2007

Politics: Philippine-style?

It is only in the Philippines, where the longest-running elections take place. And it is also where politics has become commercialized at the seams.

Why not? With billions in countrywide development funds at the disposal of each legislator, who wouldn't be tempted to dip his hands in dirty politics? And the politics of dynasty seems to be getting into the fabric of society. It's not only insulting to the wisdom of others, who like the scions of traditional politicians, have keen sense of appetite to serve the public, but downright frustrating to have public officials running public offices at the expense of taxpayers' money without doing anything but to fatten their stomachs, cheating on public funds that are supposed to be for projects.

From the way it looks, as if nobody else in the Philippines is capable of dispensing quality service and intelligence as those being done by those already in power. As if the only ones qualified to become politicians are the sons and daughters of those already sitting at the throne of power. So that when the father or mother is done with the term, someone in the family is handpicked to run for public office again. How do we know that the funds used to defray the costs of election campaigns are their own, and not taken from the coffers of government? And the politics of patronage is seeping into moral fibers of public officials so that when they are in power, all they have to do is repay those who have helped them won the elections, by granting them bogus or sub-standard contracts. Worse is that some of these projects turned out to be ghost projects, with the funds being split between the contractor and the public official concerned.

Under the Philippine Constitution, the Commission on Elections was created as an independent body, free of influence from whoever it is sitting in power. But that's not the case at this point in time. Everybody knows that all cabinet officials, including those whose public functions are autonomous in nature, are appointed by the president of the Philippines. As if being appointed to such constitutional bodies are something that the appointees owed to the appointing power. Let us just pray to God, that the Supreme Court justices will not be tainted in so far as court decisions are made to favor the sinister wishes of those in the upper echelons of government. Otherwise, the country's Constitution is already doomed, if this happens. And we will have a democratic government that is inutile, in whatever way you call it.

Alone, the recent election that drew political sensations from all sectors of society had been marred by killings and protests. International observers confirmed that there were cheating, which the administration vehemently denied of any hand, if there is any, in such sinister electoral manipulations just to clench victory.

Prior to the election proper, the administration made pronouncements that the Team Unity would notch a landslide victory against the Genuine Opposition. Despite the government's machinery at its disposal, the G.O., with a handful of resources, except for the people's mandate, was able to garner most of the trusts that were translated into quality votes thereby allowing them to win almost all the 12 slots in the senatorial contest. The fate of Pimentel is something that the people have to watch out because it appears that Zubiri's votes in Mindanao are already estimated to be more than that of Pimentel's total tally.

If Senator Antonio Trillanes is correct to say that indeed there was cheating involved that favored the victory of Zubiri in Mindanao, what else is left for the Commission on Elections but to decide once and for all, the fate of these two candidates. What happens right now is that negative comments are cropping up from all directions, which all the more make the electoral waters murky at the most. Had Trillanes been in the shoes of Pimentel, it would have been a different story. As days pass by, the waiting is not yet over and those charged for manipulating the election results would have surely a good day in the proper courts, if only to quash whatever doubts the electorates have against them.

No wonder, election time is now gaining ground as one of the tourists attractions that the Philippines will ever have, under the presidential form of government. Won't it be timely to shift to the parliamentary form of government so that the tussle between the upper and the lower house can be avoided, and not to the detriment of public interests.

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