COMMENT. Big Jokes in Election 2010. By Patricio P. Diaz

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 May) – When something that should not be happens, this may be the reaction:  “Are you joking?” or, “That’s a big joke.” or, “You, joker!” That’s what “big joke” or “big joker” means in this Comment.

A week within D-Day of Election 2010, big jokes are no longer funny. Filipinos may find themselves at the butt ends of the jokes. The exit of the big joker named Gloria may not be a relief at all.

First, why call Gloria the big joker. In Election 1998, the big joker that was Estrada alias Erap won convincingly. But soon after, just as Jaime Cardinal Sin had warned, he proved to be a disaster. In 30 months, people power ousted Estrada and installed Gloria hoping for the best. With less of the same and more of her own kind, Gloria extended the disaster to 2010 — to 114 months more. Big joke, indeed!

Of course many don’t see it that way – especially those who see things the Gloria way only: Look at the plus-points, not the minus.  For instance, Gloria has raised salaries many times . Good! That’s plus-point.  But prices of prime commodities go up much higher.  Bigger minus-point: The Gloria way is a big joke, too.

Now, nine big jokers want to take over from the big joker Gloria — the first big joke of Election 2010. Just like in past elections since 1992, whoever wins has no majority mandate which amounts to no mandate. And they call that democratic election where mandate is derived from the majority.

Every one of the nine vows to make a heaven out of the hell that the big joker Gloria is leaving behind. By the poll surveys, the leading candidate has the support of 39 percent of the electorate; two are tied with 20 percent; and a fourth lags behind with seven percent. The rest have two to a fraction of a percent support. Yet, all expect to win.  Isn’t that also a big joke?

Noynoy Aquino: The leading candidate by the poll survey, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is not that impressive in his credentials but is riding high in the memories of his father, the martyred Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and his mother of the People Power reputation, President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.  He is vowing to carry on his parents’ legacies.

Like his mother who ran against the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos after Salvador H. Laurel, president of UNIDO, had given way to be Cory’s running mate under his party, Noynoy is standard bearer of the Liberal Party after its president, Manuel A. Roxas II has given way also to run as vice president.  History has repeated. Will it repeat a step more?

Of all the nine candidates, Aquino is the only one issuing statements like a winner. Will he win?  If he does, will he really live up to the legacies of his parents that he has not elaborated presuming, perhaps, the people know them. Will he do more than his less impressive credential just like how President Ramon Magsaysay proved wrong those who ridiculed him as “just a mechanic”?

If he wins and he doesn’t deliver or do more, he will be a bigger joker than Gloria.

Estrada alias Erap: Running second with 20 percent in the poll survey, Joseph “Erap” Estrada, ousted as a big joker from Malacañang, wants to be back to relieve the country of the big joke he and Gloria, his vice president turned successor, have done.  His wife, former Sen. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito (Estrada) says Erap is a changed man — after a six-year detention and conviction for plunder. Is that true?  Given presidential pardon, he is unrepentant for, he says, Sandiganbayan erred.

The biggest joke is to return a proven big joker to Malacañang.

Manny Villar: Tied with Estrada behind Aquino, Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar – of legendary rags-to-riches reputation – has the expertise and experience to relieve the country of the Erap-Gloria big joke.  But as House Speaker and Senate President, reports – official and documented — have exposed him as having used his powers to enrich himself and to corrupt – a big joker, too.

Sending an already big joker to Malacañang is a big joke.

Gibo Teodoro: Trailing far behind Aquino with just seven percent of the poll survey votes, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro has very impressive credentials and is standard-bearer of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition. If elected, he can be a good president. The “IF” is a big joke. Why is he lagging so far behind? Can he prove the poll surveys wrong?

His party is the ruling or majority party.  Yet, it only has six senatorial candidates. Never has this happened before in the history of Philippine elections. For, a running mate, he has an amateur flyweight, not a professional heavy weight. Where does the big joke lie — in the ruling party or in Gibo?

A defense secretary, he was president of the Nationalist People’s Coalition from which he resigned to become the standard bearer of the ruling party and its chairman when President Arroyo resigned but still calling the shots. Obviously, he could not hold the party together – wracked by resignation, dissension, and desertion.

President Arroyo is the election issue. He is weighed down by the Arroyo baggage despite his efforts to distance from her. While not a big joker, he is at the receiving end of the one big joke in Election 2010.

Admirable: We can only admire the five other wannabes.  They all believe in themselves and in winning.  That’s the big joke even if they are necessarily not jokers. In fairness to them, they have idealism and vision. But more are needed in winning the presidency and becoming good president.

In fact, one of them will make a good president.  He has proven his worth when he started Subic naval facilities from scratch to lay the foundation of what Subic Bay Free Port Zone is now. But the big joke is on him.  How can he win? An independent presidential candidate in this country can only dream of winning.

Multi-Party System: The biggest joke and the source of all big jokes in Philippine election is the multiparty system. This system is most suited to the parliamentary form of government where parties can coalesce after the election to have a ruling majority to form a government.  In the Philippines, parties coalesce to win the election then go their separate ways after V-Day.  That’s the big joke.

The merits of the multiparty system cannot thrive in Philippine political culture.  As we have already seen any ambitious Dick or Harry or Mary can form a party to suit his or her ambition. Then they form a coalition to jointly suit their ambitions. That’s the big joke about the multiparty system in the Philippines.

For countries with presidential form of government to have a president with majority mandate, the multiparty system must have a run-off between two leading candidates if not one of them garners a majority.  The Philippine multiparty system does not have that feature. That, too, is the big joke.

Revert to Two-Party: The run-off converts the multiparty to two-party system.  To avoid the big jokes and the big jokers we now see in Election 2010, revert to the two-party system, for after all that is what the run-off will amount two.

Under the two-party system we once had, each party picked a presidential timber – not the other way around – to become its standard bearer. Under the present multiple party system, then Ramon Magsaysay has no chance of winning. He had the sterling leadership qualities; the Nacionalista Party provided the logistical and organizational support to make him president – best remembered as a no-nonsense president.

Seeing no chance of winning outside of a well-organized, well-funded party, no joker other than Pascual Racuyal ran as “perennial” independent presidential candidate, not to win but to be known even if as a mental-case suspect.  In every election, he got hundreds of votes from voters in his league or those out to humor him or to trivialize the election. He was a real joker, a real fun – unlike some big jokers of Election 2010.

(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You may e-mail your comments to [email protected]).

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