The political season is upon us. This May we will hold our barangay and SK elections. Next May, the mid-term elections will be for the Senate, House of Representatives, and local governments. It’s never ending politics for us because so much ambition for wealth and power are at stake. Politics is big business and the returns for the unscrupulous are instantly and constantly breathtaking.
In fact, politics didn’t end after the 2016 election period ended. Partisans, for and against, went to work to viciously demolish their principals before the eyes of the world. An eye for an eye so to speak. Every day, since then, we were fed with news from attackers and defenders, not that the news was real and educational either. Lost in that black hole was the agenda for “tunay na pagbabago.”
We have a culture of negligence, dismissive arrogance, corruption, and tribal loyalties that place no importance on values and merit. To the high and mighty, the rules don’t apply to them, only to others. Like they can’t be dictated upon, but it’s okay if they do the dictating. Like portraying their creative plunder as clever and innovative best practice while their inferiors are downright crooked.
Like their political pets and patrons are beyond reproach despite empirical evidence or indications to the contrary. Partisans, real ones and the mercenary, wage political warfare with that mind-set, stuck on personality-oriented politics and unable to rise to the level of ethics, policy directions, and standards of good governance as well as citizenship. It looks like we’ll have more of the same.
All their “talk the talk” savvy to feel good such as truth, integrity, inclusion, responsibility, excellence, and competitiveness, crumble in the face of vested interests and partisanship. They give way to criminal syndication, cartelization, manipulation, and disinformation, and look the other way if it’s their side. Yet, they wonder why there’s no end to lawlessness, civil unrest and armed conflicts.
We can’t build our nation this way. Partisan politics is divisive. It’s bad enough that we’re culturally tribal and geographically separated. Our corrosive brand of politics aggravates it all the more. Worse, ill-gotten gains are routinely laundered to hide the fruits of the crimes and acquire respect in the community. National interests are subordinated to vested interests. It’s typical of all sides.
This early, names are being floated for the Senate race to test voter response, but that’s alright because it’s part of the process. What’s not okay is that partisans from all sides are demolishing perceived candidates; or dissuading others not to join the other side even way before official announcements are made and the start of the campaign period. The pattern’s obvious; same, same.
Furthermore, manipulators are using early surveys to begin conditioning the public’s mind toward accepting predetermined voting outcomes for their clients who will benefit from e-cheating like they did in 2010, 2013, and 2016. Politics is indeed big business with breathtaking sustained ROI. Which is why every aspect of nation-building is subordinated to self-serving politics.
Our brand of politics is divisive, exclusive and offensive to national wellbeing. Lost in the sewer is the call for nation-builders in government, elected and appointed, who will treat public office as a public trust; those who will place national interest and common good above all else. Lost in the slugfest is process of weighing a person’s worth to serve, whether his merits outweigh his demerits.
As usual, potential candidates will be treated like race horses, never mind if the race may be rigged from the start with mind conditioning for mind recall and to justify the pre-selected outcome. Voter education rhetoric will amount to nothing more. Candidates, potential or official, who’re not in government won’t have the advantage of resources to facilitate exposure, travel and networking.
Time after time, there have been pledges by government to level the playing field, enforce campaign spending limits, and accord equal time and space in all kinds of media. So far, nothing transformational has happened by way of serious electoral reforms. We seem destined to careen from one election to the next with the same patterns of recidivist behavior, orchestration, and outcomes.
But hope springs eternal for this serial realist.
What else can one do under these opaque times and circumstances? Underlying that are the cries of millions who yearn for honest, orderly and peaceful elections (H.O.P.E.), emphasis on honest in this electronic age where virtual peace and order are used to mask the rot beneath, to give our people and democracy a fighting chance to win the future.
I’ll support candidates that stand for national unity, security, and development; and place a premium on those who’re ready to serve the people and save lives at grave risk from the consequences of negligence, poverty, separation, crime, and corruption. Those who agree must take the initiative to effect attitudinal and behavioral change, for society to be better Filipinos for a better Philippines.
Today, nation-building refers to the efforts of newly independent nations to redefine the populace of territories carved out by colonial powers without regard to ethnic, religious, or other boundaries to become viable and coherent national entities. It includes the creation of national paraphernalia such as flags; anthems; national days, stadiums, airlines, languages and myths.
Nation builders take the initiative to develop a national community through government programs, military conscription, mass schooling, propaganda or infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth.
Nations stay together when citizens share enough values and preferences, and can communicate with one another. Homogeneity and interconnectivity amongst people can be built with education, a common language and technology. At times by brute force as most, if not all, great powers have demonstrated. Such is the painful human reality as nations struggle to unite.
This, I believe, is our sacred mission — to strive for One Philippines and to be the best there is in whatever we set our minds on.
Rafael M. Alunan III served in the cabinet of President Corazon C. Aquino as Secretary of Tourism, and in the cabinet of President Fidel V. Ramos as Secretary of Interior and Local Government.