Addicted to power
They can barely walk, but they want to run,” laments a netizen on social media.
Joseph “Erap” Estrada, 81, and Alfredo Lim, 88, are both vying for the post of city mayor of Manila. Imelda Marcos, 89, is running for governor of Ilocos Norte. And Juan Ponce Enrile, 94, wants to be senator again. These octogenarian and nonagenarian aspirants created an uproar when they filed their certificates of candidacy a few weeks ago.
Estrada has been in public office since 1969. In a span of 50 years, he was San Juan City mayor for several terms, then senator, vice president, president and Manila mayor.
Lim has been in public service since the 1950s, as a police officer who rose to the rank of general, then becoming director of the National Bureau of Investigation before serving as city mayor of Manila for four terms, and eventually becoming senator of the republic.
Imelda Marcos wielded immense powers as first lady during the 20 years that her late husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was the country’s president. After she came back from exile, she served as multiterm representative of Leyte. She is now on her third term as representative of Ilocos Norte.
Enrile has been in the corridors of power for more than 50 years. He served in various Cabinet positions as secretary of finance, justice, and defense during the Marcos presidency, beginning in 1966. He continued as defense secretary during the Cory Aquino administration. He then served as senator for multiple terms, even becoming Senate president.
What else do they want, people ask.
The races are over for anyone of their generation. Their peers are enjoying what remains of their days, doting on their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They are devoting time to charity and religious work in order to salvage a place in heaven.
In contrast, why do these four old guards still run? Are they out to accumulate more wealth? Surely, they already have all the money that gives them, their children and grandchildren included, lifetime material security.
We cannot rule out the insatiable desire to have more wealth as motivation. But as one politician said, “money without power is nothing,” so this prompts us to search for a more primal reason.
Is it because they think they can still make valuable contributions to public service, considering their long years in office? Surely, even they themselves know that they have been hugely responsible for the state of rot of our country. For them to entertain delusions that they can still do good for the country is pure dementia.
The only plausible reason is that these old political figures are deeply addicted to power.
The feeling of adulation, the fat perks, the exhilaration brought about by one’s possession of power to rule over the fates of people, and the sense of self-importance that results from being at the center of it all, are said to have an addictive effect more powerful than gambling in the casino.
When one enters politics without deeply rooted moral and ethical bearings, power intoxicates. And when one gets drunk with power, the line between right and wrong becomes blurred and eventually disappears. If President Duterte says that drugs eat your brain, power eats your soul.
Politicians addicted to power are far more dangerous to society compared to drug addicts, alcoholics and gamblers. They have caused, and continue to cause, far more destruction to our country and people.
If Estrada, Lim, Marcos and Enrile want to be (re)elected to public office, it must be because of their addiction to power. Nothing in their pronouncements, conduct and record would indicate otherwise. No ember of a noble purpose there at this late stage.
There’s one politician who is even more drunk with power. He mocks God as “stupid,” calls for the destruction of the Catholic Church, lumps all priests as womanizers and pedophiles, and brands saints as “gago” and “lasenggo” (stupid and drunkards). He has proclaimed himself a saint, and has called on people to adorn their altars with his picture. His self-anointed name: Santo Rodrigo.
Comments to email@example.com
Click here for more elections stories.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.