The campaign season for candidates aspiring for national positions has kicked off. There is little cause for me to be excited, though. The coming May 2013 elections are a far cry from the 2010 presidential elections when an air of change was so rife in the air, when Filipino citizens saw a good reason to volunteer – and did in massive numbers. The campaign that has just formally opened offer little to the imagination, devoid of great vision for an emerging nation and a most probable descent to politics rather than an impetus for continuing change.
Admittedly, there are some young candidates that can be fresh additions to the Senate. Anybody younger than forty-five years old will bring their generation’s aura and dynamism into stronger play and the country can only benefit from that. Ours is a country that is finally moving towards its place in the sun, propelled by the personal charisma of President Noy Aquino and the trust and support he receives from the people. Even the recent drop of his approval ratings did not add much to the small minority who have always been critical of him, all the way from 2009 when he upset the political apple cart and the agenda of traditional politicians. Affected Filipinos just shied away a little to the side, not sure of whether they like or dislike what is going on. I believe that the current political season distracts from the upbeat mood that had gained momentum, and I hope it will be over soon.
Democracy is truly a maturing process. It is not exciting all the time, but it is meaningful even when it is routine. It is democracy that has found a new lease on life with the ascendancy of P-Noy, democracy and the personal values that can make it work in a national setting that had seen corruption and poverty become a regular, and generally accepted, part of Philippine society. Never mind that corruption was eating away at the very heart of a beautiful culture where people took care of one another. Never mind that poverty was wasting away the lives of tens of millions of Filipinos without any hope of relief, literally keeping them hungry, sick and shortening their life spans.
There are only two causes that deserve national attention – and national elections. They remain to be corruption and poverty. When we cannot choke corruption, when we cannot bring millions out of poverty, our democracy will remain in the ICU. Therefore, the personalities that should be offered in the altar of political choice should have an aura of incorruptibility, must offer a record of caring and sharing as the only template against poverty. It is so funny that every campaign brings about so many assurances by candidates that they are against poverty but hardly have any proven record of lives dedicated to dismantling poverty. And few can stand scrutiny and inspire the people that they, without a doubt, can be role models for integrity and honesty because they had always passed the moral test for personal accountability and public
There is no doubt that the fight against corruption is getting a powerful boost from the character and action of the president. While it will take years and a crusade that will involve different layers of the bureaucracy and citizens themselves, the first efforts against corruption are turning the tide. I believe that the credibility of P-Noy and the trust he enjoys among our people are good ground to begin a campaign aimed at the people. Government can suggest simple things they can do to nurture the return of honesty, involve schools and churches, focus government media on transmitting colorful and catchy messages especially for the young, and get thousands of volunteers to penetrate traditional and social media as truth-tellers, integrity ambassadors, and points of inspiration. P-Noy may have begun a real-to-goodness battle against corruption but only the people can win this war.
The same with poverty. Through the Conditional Cash Transfer or CCT, P-Noy is anchoring his anti-poverty effort. Pouring tens of billions of pesos into the CCT has reached a great number of Filipinos but has not made any significant dent in the hunger and extreme poverty situation. In the last hunger incidence quarterly report of SWS. hunger incidence went down, the second quarter in P-Noy’s ten quarters of governance. If the drop continues, even at lesser percentages, then the CCT can be said to show signs of effectiveness. Even if poverty levels cannot be addressed by the CCT, hunger is enough reason to spend billions on. I do not believe that money alone is enough to sustain reduction and eventual elimination of hunger incidence. I remain a firm believer that, like corruption, hunger and poverty should be addressed by a multi-sectoral effort and by a different kind of moral crusade against our own apathy at the plight of the poor among us.
If we must have elections, then let us benefit from them by raising the key issues of corruption and poverty, of personalities with much to contribute to honesty and integrity, of candidates with proven records of caring for the poor and asking them for their proposed anti-poverty programs. Most of all, we want politicians who believe in the people more than they believe in themselves. We are not in a dictatorship, or in authoritarian governments, we are in a democracy. We do not need messiahs no matter how they think they can be our saviors, we need empowerers, leaders who lead by example so that we, too, can be what they are. If not, then elections are nothing but that descent to politics, a circus that comes to town every so often.