Politics - What's Going Down the Chute

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
So it has been considerably a while since the National Elections transpired and I reckon the timing's just right to verbalize my assessment out of it. Being a resident of the Philippines for over 24 years now, I am admitted to leaning on the passive side when Elections become at large. Passive in a sense that I might have been casting my votes for the previous elections but I couldn't have cared less each time. The 2013 elections on the 13th of May served as my first in-depth exposure to the aforementioned movement partly because it was called for by my profession as a member of the local media. As such, I had a considerably profound scope of the relevant incidences, at least, in my province (Negros Oriental).

Be cautioned, however, that this article may be geared toward a deleterious take on Philippine politics. Anyone with high hopes or regard for the Government may not give agreement on ideas yet to be presented. Nevertheless, I rely solely on the right to freedom of speech practiced in the country regardless of possible consequences or aftermath.

On PCOS and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)
To me, and perhaps the majority, the decision to continue the patronage of Smartmatic's PCOS machines as means of polling was not the worst move for COMELEC albeit not the best at that. Given that the recent polling was not the first instance at which PCOS machines were utilized to tally votes casted, high hopes for a smooth, reliable and fast transmission of results was envisaged by the public. Taking into account the expenses allocated from storage of the machines, which by the way cost approximately P6.4 million per month, to about 1.8 billion Pesos initially billed to the agency by Smartmatic, it is about fair for people to expect a good upshot out of the money that could have made a huge difference in uplifting the quality of life for the marginalized populace.

The result was nothing short of disappointing not to mention the number of machines that were reported to have malfunctioned along with the sub-par transmission rate of results. Those were only a few in the list of the remarkably epic-fail polling moments. Other issues came in rather minor yet made it to the hall-of-fame such as missing voter names, discrepancies in listing and the like. So, is it really more fun in the Philippines during elections? You be the judge.

The Business Behind the "Business"
Regardless of region, ethnicity or language the issue of vote-buying will always surface despite heaps of effort exerted to suppress it. It seems to me that putting a president who stood up (and probably still is) strong against corruption with a promise of paving a path to the right direction is not an all-out solution to cure the advanced stage of sickness known to be rampant, but not exclusive, in politics called "corruption."

I live in a province that I used perceive as subtle in terms of politics. I affiliate "subtle" with the degree at which vote-buying is not "terminal" or to simply put, helpless. Talks about such subject matter is rather sensitive and difficult to support with facts which is why it may turn out unjustifiable at the end of the day. However, it does not directly imply invalidity as a significant number of people have turned wealthy for a moment on elections day. I'd have to admit that I was never an avid fan of politics in the Philippines, moreso in the local arena. I could even consider myself arguably guilty of turning a blind eye on how the "business" in politics went for the province over the past years but never had I foreseen that it was "business as usual" in this side of the country as well. For a moment, I had undergone denial but eventually had to reach the acceptance stage. Having said those, I find it disheartening to realize that, apparently, no one is an exception in the enterprise, if you know what I mean. At a certain degree, corruption happens to anyone in power given the jurisdiction to appoint, decide and what not. Moreover, for as long as the outcome of a decision becomes favorable to any party, personal or public (or both), corruption can be beautifully concealed in a very neat package. Note: Some level of expertise required.

Frustratingly, these "leaders" are, in effect, leeching wealth effortlessly from the multitude, making a business out of politics and even handing it down to the people next in line - their offspring. That should be reason enough for the average citizens of the Philippines to stop hallucinating about the government getting serious with the Anti-Political Dynasty bill. The question now is, who would want to prohibit a "business" from flourishing?

The driving force behind this piece is the reality-slap that a part of the people's hard-earned cash also known as taxes go down the chute that easy. It pains to see how lavish these crocodiles can get as opposed to how hungry and hopeless the marginalized can be. The problem about politics was never really about the system, nor the budget and not even the ones in office but the people, themselves - they who put the officials in place. It is safe to say that the people define the kind of government they get but sadly, when all else fails, it is the government who gets all the pointing fingers at.

I give due credit to the real leaders who refuse to take the path others are. I admire those who dream of reforming the status quo without having to compromise integrity and credibility for personal gains. Though outnumbered, they are the few who stand out from the pack and are among the people, who, the late Steve Jobs referred to; the minority who are "crazy enough to think they can change the world..." because in reality, they "are the ones who do."