CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 June) — It’s a sad commentary on the quality of our leaders that their alleged political parties are nothing more than personal convenience vehicles for their political ambitions.
Party labels signify practically nothing but a façade for projecting persons with vested interest who are out to grab power.
If we had an authentic party system, every party would enlist citizens with ideas and beliefs about good governance, human development, and social progress that are then embodied in a platform.
Such parties would be institutional talent pools and resource centers, providing our society with a ready stock of exemplary people who are nominated as much for their ability and ideas as for their honesty and trustworthiness.
If we had such parties, by now we would be watching an array of nominating activities for all levels. And politics would not be crowded with self-appointed, self-nominated, and self-serving candidates.
It seems that all it takes today is for any Jojo, Digoy, or Filo to adopt an acronym and announce it as a party, then declare himself its head or spokesman. They bastardize instead of ennoble politics.
A political party is serious business. It should be treated seriously. It’s supposed to be the quality-control mechanism for democratic politics—identifying and nominating worthy candidates, sorting out undesirable wannabes.
But we have such dysfunctional “parties” today, some headed by flunkies or dropouts with wrong notions of the role a party performs in a democracy.
These makeshift parties shouldn’t have been allowed to crash into the electoral arena stuffing our political system with misfits, charlatans, and undeserving political parasites.
The dominance of these make-believe parties deprives us of a civilized way to ensure that a candidate is really qualified and can really be trusted. Not only that, they make it impossible to keep a level playing field for all legitimate contenders.
All they can present each time is an undistinguished lineup of candidates, mostly ambitious people with money or moneyed backers who basically buy their way to public office by waging expensive campaigns.
As a case in point, it is difficult to guess what redeeming value has been gained by Filipino society in having the likes of Ramon Revilla (senior and junior), Lito Lapid, and others in the Senate or the Lower House.
Such thoughtless choices saddle our society with billions in expenses—money they spend to maintain their incompetence and corrupt lifestyles with no hope of a return on investment!
Then there’s the alleged “party” of Jojo Binay. Imagine the vice president wants Pacman to be its prime candidate for senator—a desire no doubt calculated purely on sensational appeal and popularity! Too bad for Efren “Bata” Reyes; he could have been considered as well if his popularity had not waned.
Does anyone know what this party means by styling itself as the “United Nationalist Alliance?” Apart from positioning itself to be first in the alphabetical list of parties—UNA!—what does it represent in terms ideas, ideology, or platform?
Its party label and its concept of Pacman as role model for a lawmaker says a lot about the VP, his judgment, and his fitness for the presidency. Having such a party with such candidates, and led by such an exploiter of our people’s political weaknesses, is an insult to everyone’s intelligence!
Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of Southeast Asian Publishers Association, director at development academy of Philippines, vice chair of Local Government Academy, member of the Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. Author of books on governance, he is national chairman/convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org