WILL the coming elections bring us more of the same leaders that we have today? It looks like it. Note that each electoral district has a dynasty or a dynasty-in-the-making. Incidentally, these are not necessarily individual families, in tribal areas like Mindanao and the Cordillera, they are tribes.
Obviously these tendencies have been rankling the general public so much as to have a Constitutional provision against political dynasties in the 1987 Constitution, a provision that has been ignored or unsuccessful in being implemented for the lack of implementing rules. It is convenient to just ignore the need for putting them in place by those mandated to do so. In fact, it is also almost undoable with a legislature that has to come up with them when it itself is composed of dynasts and dynasty representatives.
What has unfortunately evolved is that not just connected-to political-power individuals are flocking to public office (by hook or by crook) but whole families that are now clans. It is a mimickry of being born to royalty. The heirs of political figures are expected, compelled, tracked to become the same. They have captured the throne to the detriment of their fellow citizens. It is literally and symbolically the family fortune to be passed on down the line. The rest of the public is the backdrop, the subjects to be ruled and the taxpayers from which the family fortune is derived.
The irony is that to try and calm down public opinion on dynasties the term limits law on political office was passed. Only to be honored in the breach and worse. Since the principal political dynast was given term limits, family members were drafted to take over the office.
With money politics and power play available for the incumbents, it was as easy as taking candy from a baby. Not only were ordinary and capable citizens willing to serve blocked from first base but the political dynasty enlarged bringing in direct and indirect relatives to fill out all the vital offices that would empower them to keep their kingdom. The cure was worse than the illness.
So, is this Democracy? With so-called elections and a political campaign to boot it has the trappings of Democracy but certainly not the substance, the essence of majority rule. That is not present in the kingdoms of political power that we have all over the country. If there is a change, it is superficial as in one political clan or dynasty replacing another. You might say the changes are a result of intramurals which means competition from within political power holders to the exclusion of the general citizenry.
The situation also has some bearing beyond strengthening the political status quo. Since political leadership has much to do with business and business has to rely on political leadership to thrive, there comes about an exclusive and symbiotic alliance between one and the other fostering their mutual benefit. This means it excludes the millions all over the archipelago mired in their lot and without much means or ways to better it. Does anyone wonder why there are a few enormously rich with their fingers in every business pie while the rest are engaged in baking it, toiling and sweating and earning a pittance in the kitchen for returns that only a few will partake of?
I am not writing a Marxist manifesto, just looking from the outside at what is going on in the upper reaches of this society and the picture is that it is not the Democracy that it purports to be. Beyond that, I cannot predict the future but with the information technology and outside-the-country exposure experienced by our large population of overseas workers there opens up to us the wide world of modern history including political history and revolutionary movements, which will be noted and might be acted on here. We still have the democratic vision and it is still a compelling one.
Meanwhile, in our legislature of political dynasts note the absenteeism, the irresponsible failure or unwillingness to craft meaningful democratic laws, the indifference to our problems in Mindanao, to our ever growing poverty-stricken population, the ignorance and laggardness about climate change, the tolerance of human rights violations, the supremacy of individual agendas, the token land reform, the arrogant behavior in legislative investigation hearings as well as the abusive use of taxpayers’ money. What does one expect when people believe in their divine right to rule? A travesty of Democracy indeed.
Maybe amidst the gloom and doom of today, we should do one small thing, force the repeal of term limits to start with and let us have only one dynast for life per electoral district so that there will be no encouragement for heirs in waiting to come in and take over. Pit them against each other rather than against the public. Maybe then they will look for a livelihood somewhere outside the political arena. But this may be wishful thinking.
Everyone is talking about the Constitution and its current issues from the prodigal use of taxpayers’ money to who is or isn’t a natural-born Filipino, who can vote or not vote based on biodata or no biodata, etc. Why in all these Constitutional matters is the Constitutional provision against political dynasties ignored?