CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 October) — A political party is serious business. It deals with matters of State and the people’s destiny. It defines what society needs in order to make citizens prosper, secure, happy. And it provides worthy leaders to carry the agenda forward.
A party is also a team, not just an ambitious person posturing as a Messiah. Nor is it some oligarch or political entrepreneur with a cabal of investors eager to cash in on elections. It’s an institution, not just a vehicle to power or fame.
A party’s task, first of all, is to define the state of the nation and what measures are needed to mitigate its problems and advance the people’s welfare—all of the people, not just the family’s. It’s a task that requires knowledge and discernment and the party’s best analysis of causes and effects.
It’s imperative therefore that the party consists of the best and brightest it can attract to its fold. And to be successful, it must have a platform, program, and leaders with multi-sectoral appeal.
Is there a party today that offers good analyses of the state of our society, with sensible prescriptions for improving its conditions? Of those who aspire to national leadership, who inspires confidence and nobility of purpose?
Are there potential statesmen among them? Our people deserve better than grandstanding traditional politicians, trapos, who spend our money and their working time electioneering and positioning for the next elections.
We have been very foolish in allowing our elections to be dominated by the power-greedy and the self-serving. They aggravate our society’s problems with their unseemly agendas.
And we have been very lax in allowing the party system to be bastardized by any grandstanding Juan, Pedro, or Jojo out to build an economic empire and a dynasty.
For example, the Binay camp has announced that it has formed a new party for the purpose of contesting the 2016 elections.
Actually, it’s just a warmed-over version of the so-called “United Nationalist Alliance,” which capitalized on its alphabetical/chronological advantage to snare voter support and nothing else.
In the logic of its ringleaders—Jejomar Binay, Joseph Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile—“UNA” means first; thus irresistible to naïve, superstitious, gambling-addicted, and similarly-disposed voters that want to be first.
True enough, it catapulted Makati’s quintessential trapo to within a breath away from the presidency. But does anyone have any idea of what his “new” party stands for?
What’s obvious is how this so-called party is driven by the politics of personality and patronage. “Vote for Binay and his team and get free movies year-round, plus a cake for seniors on their birthday!”
Counting heavily on the ignorance and naivete of the masses, it’s a party founded on cynicism. Why else would it choose Manny Pacquiao as its first choice to be senator, a position requiring uncommon education, knowledge, and wisdom in a leader?
It’s the height of cynicism to substitute mental acuity with fisticuffs and brute strength. Does it make sense to have a boxer for a statesman or senator of the realm, just because he has billions in campaign funds?
Yet no one so much as makes a “Boo!” at this naked bid to ride on the perverted values of our voters. The sad part of this cruel hoax is, it may serve the ends of vanity and shameless ambition!
Knowing how campaigns have been waged by this Makati-tested gang of conspirators, can vote-buying, patronage, voter-manipulation, and assorted dirty tricks be discounted?
This is a team that thrives on the reality of endemic poverty: how it twists the values of poor but otherwise honorable folks, and how it makes mendicants of the poor and desperate.
Underemployment today afflicts one-half or so of the nation’s labor force, of whom 15% are totally unemployed. It’s a demographic fact that’s made-to-order for a party of trapos, one with an unbeatable record of patronage in Makati.
And no one bothers to ask the important questions, like what’s UNA’s platform or reform program? Does it believe in equal opportunity for all, how it relates to the issue of political dynasties?
How about foreign policy; will it be expounded by the Pambansang Kamao to guide its Senate lineup in vetting international treaties, which is an essential role of the Upper Chamber? There are myriad issues in our republic that a party must address.
The top 15% of Filipino families control over 40% of our nation’s wealth, and the bottom 15% fight over just a fifth of it like hungry dogs over a piece of meat. We’re a very troubled society requiring extraordinary vision and leadership.
The least to expect of a group claiming to be a party is a platform of government. How will UNA empower people, grow the economy, conduct foreign affairs? What about industry, agriculture, land ownership, climate change, other issues!
In other words, how will it reduce poverty, lessen inequality, foster harmony, and promote peace—and thereby raise the National Gross Happiness?
A party has got to be more than just a sailboat to Malacanang!
(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 Govt’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. He is president/national convenor, Gising Barangay Movement Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org)