CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 June)–It is the misfortune of our teleserye-addicted society that trivia, tsimis, and cinema dominate the consciousness of the electorate.
Too many Filipinos live in virtual reality, unable to distinguish between what’s real and what’s reel-created illusion.
There’s a tale about the iconic action star Fernando Poe who was popular in Muslim Mindanao: a scene showing him facing gun-wielding attackers would provoke some gun-toting viewer to spray the screen image of his attackers.
Too often we confuse reality and unreality. So we indulge the antics—on or off camera—of a Bong Revilla, a Jinggoy Estrada, a Tito Sotto, or a Lito Lapid as ersatz statesmen. They are today’s icons of virtual reality in politics.
Bong and Jinggoy aren’t even real—not Revilla but Bautista, and not Estrada but Ejercito. And behold Manila, the Ever Loyal City of colonial Philippines: its mayor and vice mayor aren’t real either. Both are celluloid concoctions.
Perhaps Manileños think “Erap” and “Isko” or any other alias will do just as well or as badly in a world of ersatz living. Erap is actually Joseph Ejercito in real life, while Vice Mayor Isko Moreno is actually Francisco Domagoso. Who cares in a world short of honor and sincerity, right? PLASTIK!
Be that as it may, but the pork-addicted trapos (traditional politicos) listed by Janet Lim-Napoles and her tribe gained entry to the government’s treasure house, thanks to virtual reality and naïve votes—and stole billions!
It appears now that Bong and Jinggoy and Tanda were able to do so with help of conniving staff members and other functionaries, even family members—who then constituted what amounted to a web of corruption.
No great surprise there; they’d had lots of practice in forming conspiracies, big and small, to launch their successful candidacies.
To get to where they are today required hatching a conspiracy composed of ward leaders, a hierarchy of campaign operatives, a network of high and low connections, and lots of money and financial contributors eager for a share of the bonanza after elections.
Then the conniving conspirators wove a tale of high-sounding campaign messages that made the candidate appear good enough to be statesmen. They produced contrived video clips and sound bites for propaganda and media commercials designed to endear the ambitious trapo to an unsuspecting electorate. A high-stakes courtship of the public.
Of course, naïve voters, of which there are millions, fell for the razzle-dazzle and voted for them. What the voters didn’t know was that it was all a smoke-and-mirror show, a put on, like a game of charade distracting them from reality.
So naïve are these voters that even B-Grade show-biz characters, swashbucklers, and comedians appear heroic to them. They don’t know that a vote is the key to the entrance door of the treasure house we call Government.
So they trooped to the polls and gave away their vote not knowing they were handing over the treasury’s key to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves!
And now, the same voters who gave Ali Baba and company the key—and maybe also an axe with which to break the pork barrel—are upset at the billions carted away by the campaign hypocrites and posturing trapos. Now there’s nothing to spare even for their balato!
Woe to our country that its elites should let the impressionable and the under-educated rabble do the choosing of its leaders! A plague on the houses of the thieving hypocrites!
The elites and the high-flying oligarchs do not suffer if our society is ruled by corrupt and greedy trapos. In fact, they find it profitable because they always share in the loot of plunder and brigandage—cornering government contracts, providing and maintaining tax havens, and so on.
It is the nation’s unfortunate who suffer the consequences of the elites’ misguided, selfish, thoughtless collaboration with the trapos.
Those who campaigned, supported, or contributed to Tanda, Pogi, Sexy, and the rest of the sordid characters on Janet Lim-Napoles’s list should look into their inner selves and ponder what a great disservice they have rendered to our society by being enablers of grand larceny, scam, and thievery.
It is so painful to contemplate that the supporters and voters of these accused scammers may include many of our own families, friends, and neighbors. Who among our own relatives provided the means for these shameless trapos to fool around, wallow in corruption, and indulge their aggrandizing habits? Shameful!
After a century of freedom and democracy, it is reprehensible and simply unacceptable that Filipino voters still harbor illusions and perverse perspectives about the reality of electoral politics.
(Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of the Philippines; member, Permanent Mission to the United Nations; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government Peace Panel; and awardee, PPI-UNICEF most outstanding columnist. firstname.lastname@example.org)