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Politics-crazy rich (and mostly poor) Filipinos

/ 05:25 AM January 20, 2019

Today, American-style popular elections in the Philippines have fallen into disrepute due to wanton malpractices by inventive Filipino political scalawags.

It all started when the “crazy rich Americans” bought these islands at the bargain-basement price of $20 million from the “crazy religious Spaniards” many years ago. The Catholic Church was supplanted by Hollywood, and democracy bloomed and blossomed; but along the way, wretched leaders transformed it into a “democrazy,” practiced shamelessly every election season by rich and power-hungry candidates who buy the votes of crazy poor voters.

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Philippine history (not the fake one) attests to the fact that some of this country’s founding fathers were the first archetypes of violence and corruption, accepting rewards from the Western invaders in exchange for capitulation and the country’s sovereignty, and murdering political rivals through political treachery — in the past in the foothills of Mt. Buntis in Cavite, and very recently in the foothills of Mt. Mayon in Daraga, Albay.

The Filipinos at the time were either easy to deceive or were just plain ignorant, or perhaps did not really care — a negative attitude that’s been carried over to the present. Scoundrels are smart and rascality die hard, the reason dirty politics is very much alive today, anchored on the political slogan, “There’s no substitute for victory.”

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There are well-crafted election laws in the country; there is a constitutionally mandated agency to enforce them. But its vital organs have degenerated into what a senator some years back called “the most corrupt constitutional body in the Philippines.” The superfluous addition of the party-list system of representation — a spinoff from President Marcos’ appointed “sectoral delegates” and a poor imitation of the European kind — is a welcome addition to the sources of income of the rascals in the commission.

A party-list winner — a Filipino-Chinese businessman — was heard bragging to his friends one time that money made him a congressman, waving proudly sheets of paper to prove it. As if to institutionalize a rotten practice, many invented sectoral groups have cropped up, their patrons ready for the purchase: security guards, street vendors, female “escorts” (a less offensive appellation for you know what), drivers (tricycle, taxi, jeep and bus), informal settlers. Watch out for the melee!

It is crazy for a poor country to pretend affluence and spend billions of the people’s money to “computerize the elections” by purchasing thousands of machines that are touted to “make elections free and clean.” Crazier, because those machines are said to have been discredited in more advanced countries who used them only once, after discovering that unlike the good old manual system, it is easier to cheat with computerized machines and harder to notice the fraud. The preprogrammed software can make losers win and winners lose with just a push of a button. No wonder those machines, like the deadliest American bombs, are called “smart.”

The craziest part of the story is, the used machines are being repaired for the elections this year.

There have been a thousand and one dynasties all over the world, especially in China. The Wu, Ming, Shang, Xia, Zhou and many other dynasties ruled the country in the past, some benevolently, some violently. The Philippines has established its own brand of dynasties—the political kind, which rules provinces, towns, cities and the whole country, mostly greedily and perennially.

Surveys show that majority of the people abhor political dynasties, but dynasties have only increased, because they always win — husband and wife, brothers and sisters, father and son, mother and daughter, even in-laws when the family runs out of consanguineous relations. Dynasties are here to stay, until the “democrazy-rich” but poor Filipinos awaken to the evils of Philippine politics. The government, alas, wears kid gloves in fighting such a system, because it is part and parcel of the sordid game.

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Eddie llarde is a former senator, freelance writer, independent radio-TV host and producer, author and Lifetime Achievement awardee for radio and television. He is heard in his radio program over dzBB Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. His snail-mail address: PO Box 107, Makati City.

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TAGS: corruption, Eddie Ilarde, Inquirer Commentary, party-list system, Philippine politics
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