What to do to beat political dynasties

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11:22 PM December 25th, 2012

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December 25th, 2012 11:22 PM

This is in reaction to Stephen Monsanto’s letter urging people to join the “fight” against political dynasties in the 2013 elections by joining Kapal or Kamag-anak sa Politika Aayawan Lahat (Inquirer, 11/21/12).

If such a fight must be waged, it should start in Cebu province where political dynasties have been reigning for years. For instance, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is the daughter of the former Cebu governor—now congressman of its second district, and a sister of the congressman of the third district. In Danao City, the Duranos have been the political kingpins since “time immemorial.” They are now running against each other; so whoever wins, the city will still be a Durano fiefdom.

However, with due respect, I do not see the wisdom of joining Kapal. What can it really do except promote its chosen candidates like Ricardo Penson who is running for a Senate seat?

Honest and nonpolitical persons or associations can wage a very simple campaign by just making small leaflets or fliers urging people not to vote for candidates of political dynasties. For instance, in Cebu the leaflet may just contain the words: “Condemn political dynasties!—Anybody but a Garcia.” The leaflets should be distributed in towns and districts where a Garcia is running for an elective position.

In Metro Manila, a similar campaign can be undertaken: “Anybody but Erap” in Manila; and “Anybody but Binay” in Makati; and “Anybody but Echiverri” in Caloocan City, where the incumbent mayor has fielded his son to replace him.

Most voters in rural areas and even in urban poor areas vote for a candidate in exchange for money, and this is the problem of Kapal. Done through town mayors and barangay officials, vote-buying is made worse by corrupt teachers. In the 2004 elections in Cebu, for example, votes for Fernando Poe Jr. were read in favor of Gloria Arroyo, and nobody could object as the former did not have watchers in far-flung barangays; this was the reason FPJ lost to Arroyo in Cebu by more than 1 million votes.

I came to know this from my younger brother, a public school teacher in my hometown. Assigned to a distant barrio, he was surprised when armed men with Armalite rifles entered the polling precinct. When he told them that armed men were not allowed to enter the precinct, one of them replied: “Sir, we are NPA members. Clean elections are all we want. Do not fear us, we will protect you.” My brother prayed that no soldier would arrive or there would have been a gunfight.

Later my brother told me in Cebuano: “Dong, to ensure honest elections, it would be best if the NPA would be the ones tasked to maintain peace and order at the voting precincts.”

I disagree with the proposal, of course. But that remains a harsh truth until we are able to close the windows for corruption in our political system, particularly the lack of law against political dynasties.

Unfortunately, our lawmakers will never pass a law against political dynasties for obvious reasons, millions of them.

—ROMUALDO M. JUBAY, Ermita, Manila

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