Monday, June 29, 2009

Bohol Politics: The Balimbing Mayors

By Joe Espiritu
Sunday Post

Recently a group of Bohol politicians joined the Nacionalista Party. To make their affiliation official they took oath as party members. Then a few days after, they returned to their old party, which was the Lakas – Kampi – CMD. This could only mean one thing; there is no local party machinery.

 If there was a strong party organization, the organization executives would either prevent the fence jumping or impose sanctions on turncoats. Since there is none, any local politician could just join a party of their choice, not the other way around. As of this time, any local political aspirant with a sizable war chest could run under any party banner as long as there is a slot. Those who have not will look for a party that will provide them logistics.

 In the present set up, party organization comes in three levels; national, provincial and local. Those running for national and provincial positions have to rely on local party mates to carry them in the local level, which is the municipal and barangay areas. Thus the nationals will have to give campaign money to the locals so they could be carried in the countryside.

 In the dog eat dog, sink or swim, every man for himself atmosphere of the Philippine politics, each politician will look after his own survival before others. The weaker locals will solely use acquired funds to ensure their elections while paying lip service to their benefactors. The stronger ones may allocate a portion of their amassed fund for their patrons. National and provincial candidates will have to keep the good graces of the locals. They have to keep smiling while the locals extract their pound of flesh.

 After the elections the shoe will be on the other foot. This time the locals will go hat in hand to the nationals and provincials for funds for their favorite projects. The nationals will oblige only after their cut is assured. Projects will be started or awarded to contractors after the locals have their SOP. The voters will see projects but most of them will be substandard.

 Since in the Philippine political set up, it is the politician that holds the carrot, voters must accede to the whims of the former. The voters do not know that they are the ones who pay for the carrot. In the Philippines, people go into politics to break into big money, while big money enters politics to keep their riches.  On western democracies, the political climate is different.

 In the United States, there are only two political parties the Republicans and the Democrats. Each has their political ideology so fence jumping is almost impossible. To elect a politician, party nomination must be secured. Any presidential candidate must have the party nomination of his party in all the States, hence the primaries. The Democrats and Republicans must conduct statewide primaries to determine their presidential candidates. Presidential election follows.

 In European democracies with parliamentary governments, there are many political parties. Like in the States each party has its own political ideology. Parties elect Members of Parliaments and the MPs elect a Prime Minister by two thirds votes. This goes to show that progressive democracies are run by political parties. These parties, which are run by voters, choose their candidates. In the Philippines, politicians form political parties not the voters. Or they are the ones who choose their parties. No wonder we are going to the dogs. 

Arroyo Most Unpopular President?

Editorial, Sunday Post

      Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's refusal to reveal her plans in the 2010 elections is disconcerting, to put it mildly. This lead many people to suspect that something is cooking in the kitchen of the country's most unpopular President.

      The President's spokespersons say she has a right to her silence. Well, yes and no. It is true that silence is a right that any person can enjoy. No because the President is not just any other person.

      Her clear, unequivocal declaration on her 2010 plans is needed to calm fears stoked by her running dogs in Congress. Pained, betrayed and left holding the proverbial empty bag far too often, the last thing that we need is more of her.

      It could be that she is well aware of the fact that most Filipinos no longer trust her word. This is the reason why she would rather not make a categorical declaration since it would be taken with a grain of salt anyway.

      Or perhaps she has learned her lessons after being reminded again and again of how she broke her promise before a gathering to honor the national hero. If she makes no categorical declaration, there would be no promise to break.

      Regardless of her reasons however, the point is that Filipinos deserve to plan Weighed down by the difficulties brought about by the international economic meltdown and scandalized by the politics of payoffs and tradeoffs of the Arroyo administration, there is little doubt that they need a break.

      With the next election just a corner away, it all boils now to who deserves what. If Pres. Arroyo deserves her silence, the Filipinos also deserve their peace of mind. Insisting on what she believes is due her while disregarding what the rest of the nation deserves even more is the height of selfishness.

      The strange thing about this is that the President's habit seems to have infected her fellow conspirators in the monumental plunder of the country's coffers far more than the feared influenza A(H1N1) virus.

      While their mouths are shut, their body language betrays their intention to hold on to power. They don't have any qualms about insulting the intellect of the people perhaps because this has become the rule in their scheme of things.

      The best that Filipinos can say about Pres. Arroyo is that she has been the longest staying president after Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. His lengthy stay did not augur well with Filipinos. There is little indication it will augur well with her.

      If GMA failed to uplift the lives of Filipinos in her eight years as president, she won't be able to do that as prime minister. Eight years is too short for a good head of state. A good one she is not.