We vote like we buy TVs, refs


By Tony Lopez Columnist

The nation is looking for new leaders.

In the May 13 elections, people showed they were willing to try new faces and inexperienced individuals. We vote for candidates because we recall their names. In the same manner, we buy refrigerators and television sets because we recognize the brands—and hope that they will prove reliable, and useful.

People think GE is the best ref. It is not. They think Sony or Samsung is the best tv. They are not. (Panasonic is the best in terms of quality, reasonable price and durability. Sony is still the best in color. Samsung has a reputation for having the best technology, but its TVs are fragile and easily conk out).

As for refs, well, I guess you can try any brand and still get the same cooling effect. Most refs break down after three years. It is true of Sharp, LG, American Home, Panasonic and yes, GE. (If anybody wants to dispute this assertion I have refs in my house with broken motors carrying these brands, and I am still waiting for the repairman. Their after-sales service is bad.)

So our politicians are like tvs and refs. They look good, dashing, warm, sincere, and even brilliant at first blush. But like most appliances, our elective leaders are all defective. Just like 100 percent of our politicians, our new leaders have all feet of clay. Like nearly all appliances, the after-sales service is bad.

Our new generation politicians may seem like they mean well and even be knowledgeable but most of them are incompetent. Like BS Aquino is. He has become the world’s favorite punching bag. Look at what the US, China, Malaysia, Hongkong, and Taiwan are doing to him.

How else can you explain that in the last 30 years, the number of poor people has doubled and the number of jobless doubled even while the national government budget quintupled to the present level—P2 trillion, roughly 17 percent of our P12 trillion total economic output or GDP? The explanation: incompetence and corruption.

Don’t believe the BS that if a president is clean he will be competent and do wonders. In reality, a corrupt president and an incompetent president both do the same damage—they destroy the economy. The first steals and thus takes away money that should otherwise go to basic services. The second doesn’t know what to do and therefore, doesn’t know how to raise revenues to render basic services. Is it any wonder that despite so-called robust economic growth, no jobs are being created and the poverty incidence has remained unchanged?

However, if you ask me, it is better to have a corrupt but competent president but than an absolutely incompetent but popular president. A corrupt president will create projects because only in so doing can he or she collect a commission. Projects add to the country’s inventory of infra—schools, roads, bridges, irrigation, power plants which create jobs and help modernize the economy which in turn attracts capital or investments.

An incompetent president doesn’t know what to do. So he doesn’t want to undertake projects because he doesn’t understand them. An incompetent president makes wrong decisions—like reducing the budget allocation of state universities thus denying the poor their only chance at becoming useful citizens.

An incompetent president will mothball a main power plant like the one in Bataan but doesn’t build alternative power supplies. The result is 12 to 18 hours of debilitating blackouts and the most expensive power rates in the world. This is one reason why the Philippines has not attracted investments. Our power cost, as a ratio of total cost of production, exceeds that of labor cost—20 percent vs. 10-15 percent.

So who are the GEs, Pana sonics and Samsungs among our newly elected politicians? We bought them with their reputation and hope they will be reliable and not defective.

You have them– Grace Poe, 44; Nancy Binay, 40; Sonny Angara, 40; Bam Aquino, 36; and JV Ejercito, 43. We voted for Grace Poe because we adore Fernando Poe Jr. We voted for Nancy Binay because we like the way Vice President JojoBinay does his job. We voted for Sonny Angara because his dad, Ed Angara has not really been that bad a political leader.

Angara, the elder, is the longest serving post 1986 senator. Besides, Sonny today is the best educated and best qualified of our next generation leaders.

We voted for Bam Aquino because he is another Aquino (in GE-speak for refs) and unlike most Aquinos, could, in fact, become the best Aquino since Ninoy Aquino Jr.

We voted for JV because we remain fixated with Erap Estrada, despite his warts and vices. And we voted for Cynthia Villar because Senator Manny Villar, just like the elder Angara, is not exactly a bad politician (hindisiyamagnanakaw, contrary to what BS Aquino was claiming during the May 2010 campaign). He runs a well-managed property conglomerate with the most extensive housing network in the country.

Sure, one of these days, we will discover that Grace and Nancy are not exactly competent. One of these days we will discover that Sonny Angara is just another politician, despite his blue-chip pedigree and education. One of these days, we will realize that Cynthia Villar is truly a cacique pala. One of these days, we will admit that JV Ejercito is not as good as his dad. (To me, Jinggoy Estrada did better as mayor of San Juan than JV though Guia Gomez is proving that she is the best San Juan mayor ever).



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