The 2013 Philippine Midterm Elections: My Reflections on the Aftermath
I’d like to first express my condolences to the Republic of the Philippines for the disappointing results of the polls. It has been more than 96 hours and the poll results are not yet official. But a number of newly-elected are being officially proclaimed in some parts of the nation including the top six senators-elect. After four days of ranting, cursing and shouting while being flabbergasted with the results of Monday’s turnout, I finally had the courage to write this entry.
“Elections determine who is in power, but they do not determine how power is used.” –Paul Collier
The Philippines stays the same for the next three years. Like Metro Manila, a number of newly-elected officials nationwide are either the same old people – or fresh new people recycled through dynasty. There are some deserving who won and some less-deserving but nevertheless elected for baseless reasons.
Regarding the Senate, it was great to see new faces leading the top 12 such as Grace Poe, Sonny Angara and Bam Aquino. What seems to be unbelievable though was the fact that the more deserving fresh faces that really had a genuine potential to reform the nation were left behind. Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casino, Ed Hagedorn and Jun Magsaysay among others were true candidates who are unfortunately likely going to lose the race.
And it’s sad to see that they are behind highly undesirable candidates such as Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Cynthia Villar and re-electionists Antonio Trillanes and Gringo Honasan. My guess is that were likely elected by the masses based on their links to prominent names and people. It is an insult to the Filipino intelligence when the masses make irrational and incomprehensible choices.
But what’s done is done. We have to face the music. Good luck on the Senate floor for them. You evaded the pre-election debates, good luck evading Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Regarding the House of Representatives, disappointments include former president Gloria Arroyo, who won again in her district despite being under hospital arrest for having a severe medical condition and being under investigation for political crimes.
Boxer Manny Pacquiao is in the House for another three years after being elected unopposed. He has been recently reported to have punched a Barangay Captain due to the official’s intent to stop him distributing rice for campaigning purposes, which Pacquiao needs to be prosecuted for by the way. Meanwhile his wife Jinkee Pacquiao, with no political track record, won the Saranggani vice-gubernatorial seat.
Among the other unfortunate winners for House Representatives include Actor Alfred Vargas, the notorious former First Lady Imelda Marcos and actress Lucy Torres-Gomez.
But regarding disappointments in the provincial and city level, another Villafuerte won the Camarines Sur gubernatorial seat, continuing the Villafuerte regime that has been happening for over a quarter century. He is 23 years old and defeated his 77-year-old grandpa for the seat.
Actor E.R. Ejercito won the gubernatorial race in Laguna, actress Vilma Santos was reelected again as governor of Batangas and 22-year-old Jolo Revilla, son of celebrity senator Bong Revilla, was elected Cavite vice-governor. In Metro Manila, actor Herbert Bautista won the Quezon City mayoral seat and Nancy Binay’s brother Junjun was reelected Makati mayor, continuing the Binay regime in Makati that’s continuing for almost 30 years.
A convict was elected Manila mayor. Yes, it was former president Erap Estrada, who was ousted from the presidency a decade ago and subsequently convicted of corruption charges then pardoned. He ran for president and made it to 2nd place in 2010 thus marking his big political comeback resulting to his Manila victory. Actor Isko Moreno is his vice mayor.
Numerous actors also won seats in local city councils such as Anjo Yllana, family members of Erap Estrada and the children of celebrity senator Tito Sotto.
The so-called ‘Catholic Vote’, which the Catholic Church boasted in the past few months that will ensure pro-life candidates’ victories, has been proven a myth in Monday’s turnout.
As if that’s the Philippines’ major electoral problem.
No, the problem is the painful truth that celebrities, criminals, athletes, disgraced militants and oligarchs who are mostly incompetent with absolutely no credibility and track record whatsoever get elected by the electorate.
“Kung bobo ang gobyerno, mas bobo ang bumoto!” –The Anonymous Pinoy
I’ve mentioned this already in prior posts. Partial (if not absolute) blame should be put on the masses. It is voter stupidity and this unfavorable mentality of the Pinoy that makes the system fail. When the electoral majority is made up of fools, then society as a whole will be ruled by fools. We are the victims of the concept of the ‘tyranny of the majority’. But hey, that’s the dark side of a democracy.
For every rational voter, there are 100 irrational voters. The rational chooses to vote a candidate who has the highest credibility and competence. The irrationals choose to vote for a candidate who gave them a bag of lunch with a 100 Peso bill inside.
They continue to reelect people who deceive and suck up to them during elections via promises. They ignore the candidates with the most passion and expertise on leading. They ignore the candidates who will better them for the long term. They instantly forget politicians with previous controversies and fall for their manipulating and influencing tactics. These electoral recidivist actions are a growing problem in the nation.
OK, I’m being repetitious now.
If there’s one thing I learned from the outcome, it’s that the netizens do not make the majority of the electorate yet. But we can change that. By continuing or at least trying to help spread information, to inform and educate the disadvantaged, change might indeed be inevitable.
Road to 2016
“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” –James Freeman Clarke
2016 is going to be huge. It’s going to be one of the most influential years in the 21st Century. Not only will the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines be elected, the United States will also elect its 45th. And this will seriously affect the end of this decade and highly influence the beginning of a new era of politics in the 2020s.
We need a reformer in 2016. Let’s hope that a candidate with enticing progressive vision of change will rise to the presidency, someone who has the realistic views accompanied by genuine competence and expertise to lead a country. We cannot afford another stereotypical ‘tao ng masa’ candidate that makes desirable but unrealistic promises for the sake of deception and politicking.
We need a true statesman. As I have expressed in my open letter to congressional candidates – which I hope I did not write in vain – the push for Charter Change is crucial. We need massive constitutional reform as such measures – including reforming the government system – will really affect the country in the long term.
But that’s probably unlikely in the next three years. PNoy – being the son of the democracy icon who helped frame the constitution – attempting to revise a “sacred” document would be unconventional, not to mention unprecedented for any post-EDSA leader.
The Aquino Administration focuses on economic reforms. He has so far been satisfactory from a global viewpoint in regards to the administration’s handling of the economy and their push for the passage of the RH law. But the recent diplomatic disputes with neighboring countries are a different issue. But nevertheless, he still made it to this year’s TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
What’s interesting is that international media report the elections where they focus on the parties (in this case, the Aquino-led coalition) as if the people voted for the candidates that are either pro-administration or pro-opposition.
This is obviously not entirely true. The Filipino people do not care about the classic partisan politics. They rather vote for the candidates who give gifts and promises rather than promotion of platforms and ideology. As I have suggested in the past, Philippine politics is candidate-centered and not party-centered. Parties are gift wrappers instead of the gift per se. We do not have strong political parties like what the US has. In fact, the only true Liberal Party candidate who won a Senate seat was Aquino’s cousin Bam. The other LP-affiliated candidates can’t really be considered true liberals (party-wise). Our coalitions are a joke and unlike those in the EU, we form coalitions before the election to affect the outcome of the voting and not after the elections to work together on legislation.
Call me a hypocrite, a slob or a slacker for all my complaining and smartass rhetoric but I’ll rant all I want with my justified anger against all the flabbergasting trashy politicking because once in a while, some idealism and slacktivism do not hurt when ousting all those frustration.