CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/29 December) — Twilight for the so-called Daang Matuwid is fast approaching, the final stretch of the “Straight Path” proclaimed by the B. S. Aquino presidency. Still its earnestness and its trajectory seem to be merely snaking around.
As a result, there is a sense that somehow the nation is adrift—a perception reflected in the chaotic state of the party system, or as some people put it, in the fact that there’s really no system at all.
The Liberal Party—alleged to be “the ruling party”—is in disarray, unable to get its act together, with no clear indication of who its real members are or how it will settle the issue of succession. Is Mar Roxas its bet for 2016? Or are the Liberals groping around for an alternate?
Meanwhile, no serious criteria governs the accreditation of groups that claim to be political parties but which in fact are railroading operations of known moneybags and dynastic monopolists.
What, for example, validates the claim of Jojo Binay’s so-called United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that it is a real party? Does it have bona-fide, dues-paying members? A credible program of government? What institutional processes indicate that it is committed to democracy or equal opportunity?
On the other hand, what distinguishes Erap Estrada’s so-called Puwersa ng Masa and similar pretentious groups from a Mafia-style gang of co-conspirators?
Answers to these questions matter a lot. So much is riding on their potential for fooling the masses. Cleverly-disguised syndicates have been misleading impressionable voters into thinking they actually stand for good governance, earnest public service, or citizen empowerment.
Tolerating the operation of these conspiracies is tantamount to granting them a license to fool people, to manipulate communities, or to buy elections. They are a clear and present danger to the stability and progress of our republic.
The presence of these pretentious elements in a politically-immature society makes short-shrift of the people’s feeble political values.
Our footloose party system exacerbates the problem of social discipline as well as our failure to consolidate the social capital of our communities. It makes our democracy unstable. It produces leaders bereft of principles or loyalty to basic values, flitting like butterflies from party to party.
It doesn’t help that our elections now hang on the dubious performance of a questioned electronic vote-counting technology. This questionable electoral system is undermining our sense of sovereignty. It puts a cloud of doubt on whether our votes are being counted.
It makes us more insecure. Our insecurity is heightened by the tenacity of power monopolies in the hands of moneyed oligarchs, who in turn are manipulated by traditional power elites and dynasties.
The predominance of these ersatz parties, along with the ill-conceived concept of party-list groups, explains why all we get are mostly glib slogans and demagoguery instead of coherent, well-considered party platforms and programs.
Defining a vision or blueprint for society and the nation’s development is one of the essential tasks of a party. But rarely do we hear of coherent platforms, policies, or programs being advocated by these groups.
It is a proper party system that makes it possible to generate a set of possible futures or alternative scenarios for development—which the electorate can then use as basis for its decision during the election.
But instead of presenting Filipinos with intelligent platforms, programs, or plans, these ersatz parties add insult to injury by treating elections as mere popularity contests that are won on the basis of money, gimmickry, or worse.
They don’t even bother with selection formalities. Their candidates are not nominated; just self-proclaimed “leaders” backed by sycophants with vested interests. Their followers make decisions based on their shallow concept of “winnability” and the size of the candidate’s campaign chest.
It’s time we learn that fake parties are the handmaiden of bad, corrupt governance. More important, it’s time we learn to repudiate them and consign their ringleaders to the deepest level of hell!
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. [email protected]