CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/01 June) — It is the supreme irony of our times that no sooner did we rid our society of the curse of dictatorship in 1986 than an epidemic of political dynasties break out on all levels of government in all regions of our Republic.
In merely a few years, we squandered away the euphoria of liberation and the power we won by allowing greedy, shameless political families to supplant the Dictatorship with dynastic rule.
Not only did we allow our provinces, cities, municipalities, and even barangays to be infested by political dynasties, we even let the Marcos dynasty return!
Allowing them to reemerge rescued them from political disfavor and claw their way back to the company of decent society—something they could readily do given the abundance of their ill-gotten wealth.
And now we have the spectacle of a Marcos scion—in the Senate, no less, with dubious educational background—presiding over the question of peace and reconciliation in Mindanao which his father had bastardized.
The triumph of dynasties over our political system exposes the weakness of our society, of our concept of citizenship, and of our moral compass. As a society, we are fair game and minced meat to greedy, opportunistic, predatory traditional politicians or trapos.
As sovereign citizens, our infirm political values make us vulnerable to the wiles and maneuverings of pretentious and wealthy trapos with presumptuous ambitions.
And our weak moral compass renders us unable to distinguish between personal interest and common good; which is why our election choices frequently do not make sense—voting for candidates with dubious credentials, supporting the venal, the incompetent, or the corrupt.
It is to our discredit that greedy dynasties hold sway over segments of our population—which they corrupt and mesmerize with patronage and gimmickry.
Electing them is a serious indictment against our political maturity as a people. We have allowed politics to turn into a clawing, aggrandizing contest between and among vested interests. And so we are embroiled in a political system with an aggrandizing urge that breeds a culture of corruption from privilege and impunity.
The trapos and their dynasties have made it fashionable for whole families and clans to carve out and reserve for themselves a slice of power in every jurisdiction, if not the whole of it.
The record shows that dynasties now dominate 93% of the provinces, straining our system with their corrupt practices.
Even the Senate is afflicted by multiple pairs of dynastic offspring of political families. What’s so special about the Ejercito half brothers, the Cayetano brother-sister tandem, or the hand-me-down/father-to-son bequests seats of the Guingona, Pimentel, and Angara patriarchs? Our society’s leadership as family heirlooms!
Never mind that they trash political values and warp the functioning of our democratic system, must they wallow in shamelessness and cause it to be their legacy?
With such entitlements abused and corruption rife, people today already take it for granted that wrong-doing is a normal fact of political life in our society.
Not to be outdone, the present leadership waves its slogan—“Daang Matuwid”—like a magic wand, to no avail, adding hypocrisy and pretentiousness to the political brew.
Election time next year, it’s a cinch that such hypocritical trapos and greedy wannabes who bastardize our democratic ideals, defying propriety and constitutional prohibition, will be even more firmly entrenched along with their dynasties.
And again, many Filipinos who possess outstanding virtue or talent cannot rise to their full measure because—like prime locations or properties in the real estate industry—all places in the political arena are already claimed by the privileged and wealthy trapo.
It is such a great pity that promising Filipinos languish at the margins of community life—or are forced to leave for opportunities abroad—because political offices at home are foreclosed and locked in the pockets of greedy dynasties.
[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. An author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org ]