President BS Aquino The Last, I mean The Third, was correct in urging the electorate not to vote for candidates simply because they could act, dance and sing. However, he shouldn’t have stopped there.
Here are thoughts that he should have added for a more meaningful exercise of the right of suffrage:
Voters should not go for a candidate simply because his mother has died or a husband has been assassinated.
All candidates promise to carry out reforms. Voters should determine if candidates had ever undertaken any meaningful reform in their political or professional life.
The death of a respected figure or candidate has a deep emotional impact on the public. Nevertheless, voters shouldn’t let their emotions prevail over the need to examine the personality and capability of the family member who replaced the deceased candidate.
Sympathy for the surviving family members of a candidate who died while running is nothing new. This happened in 1965 when reelectionist Sen. Gaudencio Antonino died in a plane crash. He was replaced by his widow, then La Union Rep. Magnolia Antonino, who won resoundingly.
The late Cory Aquino became opposition candidate in the 1986 snap presidential election principally because she was the widow of the assassinated Ninoy Aquino. It was never proven that she had won over President Ferdinand Marcos but it’s often been said that she knew virtually nothing about governance.
President BS Aquino won in 2010 mainly because of national sympathy over the death of his sainted mother, former President Cory. Now, which is worse – voting for a candidate because he knows how to win attention or voting for one just because he or she is related to a deceased person? Hey, why should we be talking about which is worse when we could junk both at the polls? Looking back, it appears to me that the voters who elected the entertainers were also the same ones who voted for BS Aquino for president.
As regards promises of reform, talk is cheap. Every election, we’ve been hearing candidates rant against graft and corruption in government and vow to institute reforms. Even long after the Aquino administration had been swept into the dustbin of history, graft and corruption and the need for reforms will still remain election issues.
It still confounds me why voters fell for the promises of “tuwid na daan” of then candidate BS Aquino. What has he done in his entire political life that speaks of a reform-minded individual? During the years that he was a congressman and a senator, we’ve heard of his having girl friends but never about his advocacies for reforms. We also know that he was a champion in several shooting competitions among congressmen but nothing about his championing of pieces of social legislation. Why is it that when he became a candidate, he immediately symbolized reforms? Bah, tell that to the farmers of Hacienda Luisita!
Four years into the Aquino administration, we are still waiting for the promised reforms.
If the Aquino administration really wants only better candidates to be elected, then it should certify the long pending bill strengthening political parties. Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has been an advocate of this political reform bill since 2001 so the president should have no problem pushing for it in the Upper Chamber.
The political party reform measure would provide the death knell for political butterflies. This measure should benefit the Liberal Party at present because most local and national politicians are Liberals. If the law is enacted, these politicians will have no choice but to stay with the LP even if, say Vice President Jojo Binay of UNA wins in the 2016 presidential election.
It should also go for an amendment to the Constitution to separate local and national elections. No law will work to strengthen political parties as long as local and national candidates run at the same time. There have been many instances where local candidates of a political party supported national candidates of another party. A political party has no legal power to force members to be loyal to its national slate, so locals can thumb their noses at it while pushing for other party’s bets.
Also, separating the two elections would give candidates more time to explain their platforms while on the hustings.
I’ve covered all elections since 1992 when local and national elections were first synchronized and I noted that there were too many speakers onstage. Thus, national candidates have had very limited time (3 to 5 minutes) to discuss what they stand for.
I know this is very difficult, but if the President is really for political reforms, it should also push for a law to implement the constitutional ban on political dynasties. Bye-bye, Bam Bam?