CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/05 May) — Traditional politicians who will not willingly step down to give others a chance to enter the public service are not true leaders. They are misleaders, greedily hanging on to public office, aiming to keep their monopoly on power and privilege. So are political dynasties in their insistent hold on public office.
If they were true leaders, our society would have the benefit of statesmen on all levels, all eager to push development and progress even if they’re not in office, and all supportive of good democratic governance.
Unfortunately there is a dearth of such leaders. The continued worsening of our society’s problems are clear indicators of their absence.
Look around and note how long years of abuse by trapos and hypocritical misleaders have devastated our sense of values, bastardized governance, and trivialized the public service.
Because we allowed our politicos to use money as a substitute for competence or integrity, our level of development remains in the category of underdeveloped, or Third World. They misled us!
What hurts is, it isn’t even their money that is used to mislead us; it is money extracted from our pockets, passed around as pork, then diverted into their pockets.
Many if not all of our so-called representatives and senators seem to view legislative work as unnecessary or redundant, preferring pork and its variations.
Then in the misguided, badly motivated state of our masses, they reward hypocrisy, artifice, and superficiality with high office and privilege. Naturally, the latter are encouraged not to serve but to enjoy their tenure at public expense with gusto and relish.
Watch them parade in their finery; note how a do-nothing, say-nothing Lito Lapid puffs up just by being addressed as “The Honorable Senator.” What’s so honorable about him?
Or watch the always acting Bong Revilla: who seems always out on location for a B-Grade film set in medieval times. He tries his best to look like a senator when not on location or when shedding crocodile tears complaining of being unfairly tagged as a pork barrel thief. Honorable?
There’s the spoiled brat Mikey Arroyo and his brother Dato who gate-crashed Congress for the pork. Between them and their mother, they made more than P21 million per year in entitlements in their heyday, becoming bigger millionaires by the year! Honorable?
Then there’s a half-literate pugilist who buys himself a congressional seat which he can’t even occupy from being absent most of the time. The Pacman’s idea of lawmaking is hitting the air while sparring in boxing gyms.
With such low standards for our politicos, it’s no surprise that even the Pacman’s wife thinks she can run a province with nothing but a marriage certificate to show.
It’s pathetic for our polity to have descended to such depth of superficiality and asininity. Enthroning these people insults the memory of Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, even our own intelligence.
Trivializing the political system, bastardizing the government, is offensive to our society’s sense of decency. Stupidity injures our republic and denigrates our citizen sovereignty. But we allow it anyway.
Does anyone worry that slowly, gradually, like erosion eating up the hillsides and riverbanks, our tolerance for wrongheadedness is eating away our value system? You cannot turn common sense and folk wisdom upside down without corrupting our institutions and stultifying our political maturity.
Already, there is ambivalence in the public mind about the morality of pork, patronage, or the dependency of the grassroots on trapos.
None of this is good for the policy of autonomy or self-governance. It encourages the furtherance of pork and its exotic versions as instruments of manipulation, control, and dominance over naïve voters.
As long as this mentality prevails, traditional politicians—trapos—already in abundant supply in our society, shall prevail.
It is hardly surprising, for instance, that one fabled congressman from Davao gave voice to the allure and (to him) the importance of pork, saying: “Kung alisin n’yo ang pork barrel, ano na ang magagawa namin?” (“If you take away the Pork Barrel, what would we in Congress do?”)
Poor guy: it didn’t occur to him that his job was to make laws and not hand out money or projects!
And poor Davao constituents who thought they elected him to represent them and to make laws for them and for our society!
Poor media also: they doted on him, glorifying his cutesy habit of tending garden plots in the congressional compound instead of seeding the Lower House with ideas for alleviating society and solutions to the plight of the poor in his district.
And of course we ourselves are the poorer for elevating ignoramuses and clowns to the lofty halls of congress, only for them to turn it in a pigsty.
That this has been going on for years, hardly anyone notices, or is it rather that everyone prefers not to notice? Can it be that they don’t notice how pork-funded projects fill the landscape with inferior infrastructure, credit-grabbing billboards, and pompous streamers?
But it goes on. And so the political system and the bureaucracy keeps filling up with misfits and impropriety and corruption with impunity.
That’s the folly of electing misleaders instead of true leaders!
Manny among others is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of Southeast Asian Publishers Association, director at development academy of Philippines, member of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, vice chair of Local Government Academy, member of the Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. [email protected]