WORM’S EYEVIEW: Our little-minded partisans

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) – It has been said that “Great minds discuss ideas; mediocre minds, events; and little minds, personalities.” If this were a prism through which we view our political parties it would appear that they consist of people with little minds.

How else to perceive them when they’re always competing with others: jockeying for advantage, sniping at rivals and competitors, back-biting, engaging in character assassination?

Not only that, being given to grandstanding and gimmickry, these little minds display their bloated ambitions and misplaced bravado at every opportunity. They actually think they have the answers to the complex problems of Philippine Society; that no one else has; and that no other family can offer leadership except theirs. Presumptuous! The mark of a traditional politician. Trapo!

Mostly obsessed with ambition and self-enrichment, they hardly have time for public service, let alone ideas for the betterment of society. Thus, very rarely if at all do we hear them expound or debate on policy, program, or ideas.

Does anyone have any clue about what the Liberal Party stands for, or the Nacionalista Party? How about PDP-Laban or Laban ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) or Nationalist Citizens Party? What kind of animals are these and what do they stand for? The regional or local parties are even worse and more clueless.

Practically all they have are talking heads and no membership for a body. The talking heads in fact are themselves the financiers, manipulators, and candidates of these alleged parties. Other than they, no one except family and paid hacks and sycophants.

Their empty-headedness turns governance into a convoluted collection of improvisations by greedy power-seekers and holders whose impact on public administration is to trivialize it while sinking our democracy in a morass of impropriety, corruption, and impunity.

For instance, the imminent creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro sub-state, a momentous development for Mindanao, does not seem to be an item on any of these so-called political parties, local or national. What do they say about the impending formation of the Bangsamoro autonomous region? Is there a chance they will have a regional wing composed of Bangsamoro adherents to vie for leadership there?

How about the Chinese grab in the Spratlys and Scarborough and others nearby? Portions of our territory are flagrantly being squatted on by a foreign bully and it doesn’t merit a stand by these so-called parties? Then there are the so-called Chinoys—Filipino Chinese who finance political campaigns—and their cash-rich chambers that are de facto parties on multiple levels: where do they stand on this issue?

It used to be that belonging to a party meant one had a well-defined philosophy about what’s happening to our society, a point of view that set it apart from other parties, one that states what the party proposes to do about societal and other issues.

But all today’s pretentious party members do is to abuse and misuse the concept of a political party. They offer nothing by way of platforms or programs that address the burning issues of the day.

In fact, there are really no authentic political parties anymore. They may sport party-sounding names but they are merely candidate-centered election vehicles wholly owned, funded, and run by the candidate or group of candidates who reserve to themselves the right to have and to hold the “party” label or banner.

The Party-List groups are no better. No party lists them; they make up the list themselves—with them at the top of it. With the exception of the Communist Party and about a dozen of their thinly disguised “fronts” who now richly enjoy the billions allocated to them (at P70 million each), the so-called party-lists are just contrived groups organized for the purpose of siphoning funds into their pockets, with residual shares to their sycophants and co-conspirators.

Many of them are scammers consisting of less than a dozen co-conspirators with deep pockets who shell out propaganda and election campaign funds in anticipation of reimbursement from their pork allowances. Quite a few of them obtained their Comelec accreditation by paying off some commissioners.

Any one, any party, or any group that feels alluded to here and is offended would be better off showing how or why their group deserves to be referred to as a political party. They should show cause for respectability by establishing their bona fides.

It’s time these putative parties conduct their affairs honorably and in accordance with their role in a democratic state, which is to establish the case for how or why they should be taken seriously as an institution fit for leadership in our political system.

[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific;, secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member, Permanent Mission to the United Nations; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Govt’s Peace Panel; and winner, PPI-UNICEF award for outstanding columnist. [email protected]]