COMMENT: Degenerate Philippine Politics (1)

I: Present State: Free-for-All

Patricio P. Diaz

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, October 27, 2015 – Election is fun with media making it more entertaining. After the election, the elected continue the fun at the expense of their constituents and country – media continuing to tell and record the story of degenerate Philippine politics.

  1. What is the present state of Philippine politics?

Free-for-All

The filing of certificate of candidacy started Monday, October 12. At the close of the filing of COCs at 5 p.m. Friday, October 16, the final count of aspirants for the national posts who filed their COCs at the Commission on Elections Office in Manila was: 130 for president; 19 for vice president; 172 for senator; and 213 for party-list. Candidates for House representatives and local government offices filed their COCs in their respective cities and provinces.

The Commission will surely disqualify 90 percent or more of the presidential aspirants as nuisance candidates. Only Manuel A. Roxas III (LP), Jejomar Binay (UNA), Grace Poe (Ind.) and Miriam Defensor-Santiago (PRP) are sure to be retained in the official list. In 2010, only 10 of the 99 made it to the official list for president.

The Inquirer reported that the Comelec law department has filed motu proprio petitions to declare as nuisance candidates 125 of the 130 who filed their COCs for president; 13 of the 19 for vice president; and 128 of the 172 for senators. No names of the nuisance candidates will be released until after the due process proceedings. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 21, 2015: Comelec law unit wants 125 presidential aspirants declared as ‘nuisance’ )

There’s a tinge of irony here. It can be deduced from Chairman Andres Bautista’s press statement that the Comelec accepted all COCs as an appreciation of “vibrant democracy” – only to disqualify them in order not to “put the election process in mockery or disrepute”. Whatever, this shows how, in the Philippines, election has been trivialized in the name of democracy. Anybody is free to run for president. All other elective positions down to the municipal council are “free-for-all”.

Eccentric to ridiculous. Pascual Racuyal, said to be a garbage collector, had etched his name in the Philippine electoral history as a presidential candidate in every election from 1935 to 1986, the snap presidential election. As reported by United Press International (December 12, 1985), 21 others had joined Racuyal to oppose President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Corazon C. Aquino in that snap election. In the 1981 martial law election, six others had joined Racuyal against President Marcos (KBL) and Alejo Santos (NP).

Dr. Resil Mohares, in his lecture, “The Strange and Sad Career of Pascual Racuyal” at the Ateneo de Manila University on January 26, 2015 said,  “Commonly cited as the iconic ‘nuisance’ candidate, Racuyal deserves more respectful remembrance, as the sad clown who appears on stage to show up the idiocy and farce that characterize much of Philippine politics itself.” The “clowns” have multiplied and the “idiocy and farce” has mutated many times over.

Wrong Political Values

The “free-for-all” in Philippine politics reflects the wrong political values of Filipino voters and aspirants for elective posts. Invoking “freedom”, any Juan or Juana can run for any office as long as he or she meets the legal qualifications set in the Constitution even if utterly incompetent for the position, suffering from physical disability or in state of moral and mental turpitude. Filipinos, in exercising their freedom of suffrage, give little weight – or none at all –to competence, physical fitness or moral integrity.

For all elective posts, the constitutional qualifications are easy to meet: (1) natural-born citizen of the Philippines; (2) age; (3) able to read and write; (4) registered voter; and (5) residency in the Philippines. Limitation of “age” and “residency” varies according to position. Anyone believed to have met these qualifications has democratic right to run for election – a notion that in disregard of political values is ironically anti-democratic.

We will discuss the three aspects of “Wrong Political Values”, especially “Moral Integrity” in the next issues. (“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.”)

(Next: Wrong Political Values)