Political smorgasbord

This is my column today.

What are we to make of the overwhelming surge in the number of people who aspire for national elective positions?

There are those who look at this as positive development hypothesizing a direct correlation between the increase in the number of people who have had a sudden attack of self-efficacy (i.e., overwhelming belief in their capabilities) to an increase in resurgence of vigilance in this country. Their thesis is that the more candidates there are, the higher the level of concern for this country among the people. I am not sure there is empirical basis for the perceived relationship, but I concede that given all the aggravation and expense required of any candidate for public office, there has to be some meaningful reason behind a decision to run for an elective position other than “because one is qualified.”

As can be expected, there are those who see this as negative development. These are people who think that the standards for elective positions have sunk so low that everyone now feels qualified to become councilor, mayor, governor, congressman, senator, or president. I am not necessarily singling out the reappearance of candidates from the Philippine entertainment industry, although I must admit that I am also bothered at the sheer number of artista in the list of people running in the May 2010 elections. The actors, actresses, singers, comedians, etc., running for a post in Quezon City, for instance, can easily compose a complete lineup it is a wonder they haven’t formed a political party of their own.

Is the resurgence yet another proof of how lucrative elective positions have become that they are now seen as better careers?

Ninety-five people filed certificates of candidacies for the post of President of the Republic of the Philippines. Of the 95, nine are considered serious contenders to the post, namely (in alphabetical order): Noynoy Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Richard Gordon, Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas, JC de los Reyes, Gibo Teodoro, Eddie Villanueva, Manny Villar. They are the ones that certain media organizations have anointed as the worth featuring in the various forums for presidential aspirants. Two other names have some recall, namely, Mario Crespo (a.k.a. Mark Jimenez) and Oliver Lozano.

The rest of the 84 presidential wannabes face the inevitable: Being declared nuisance candidates by the Commission on Elections. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Crespo and Lozano meet the same fate as the 84 others. Among the 84 is someone who believes he is God the Father, another one thinks he is the rightful owner of the whole archipelago. There are one or two who actually look like they have good qualifications but given that they do not have the resources, a political party, and a solid following, one can’t help but wonder if they aren’t nuts to think that they have a shot at the presidency. If this trend continues, I am afraid there will come a time when we will have to require psychiatric evaluation of all candidates for elective positions.

Of course we’re supposed to be in a democracy and everyone has as much right as anyone else, including the right to make an utter fool of himself or herself. The problem is that given the very limited resources of the Commission on Elections, we really don’t have the luxury of indulging everyone his fantasy, or if we are to call a spade a dirty shovel, their lunacy.

Surprisingly, there were only 20 people who filed certificates of candidacy for the vice presidency seemingly validating the general perception that the post holds very little value to most people. Sure, the qualifications are the same as that of president. In fact, there are those who strongly insist that the selection of vice president be given the same weight as that of president given that the vice president is the constitutional successor to the post.

Of the 20, seven are prominent names: Jejomar Binay, Bayani Fernando, Loren Legarda, Edu Manzano, Mar Roxas, Jay Sonza, and Perfecto Yasay. The rest of the names hold very little significance.

On the other hand, the senatorial contest is quite crowded with 158 candidates vying for the 12 slots that are available. As can be expected, quite a number of incumbent senators are running for re-election, among them, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senators Lito Lapid, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla.

The irrepressible Santiago is running under her own People’s Reform Party but has the distinct advantage of being a beneficiary of this new political hybrid called a “guest candidate.” She is in the slate of at least four political parties. I wouldn’t be surprised if more candidates would find themselves in a similar situation. Political parties in this country don’t really stand for distinct ideologies or platforms and are simply convenient structures to launch political careers. In ordinary times, such a spectacle would be unacceptable as it would be tantamount to being a turncoat. But the present is hardly ordinary. Marriage of convenience is the in thing particularly since most of the major parties were unable to complete their senatorial line-ups.

Picking 12 from the list will be a difficult task. In addition to the re-electionist senators, there are at least five other senators who are intent on returning to the senate. They are former senators Serge Osmeña, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Tito Sotto and Kit Tatad.

In addition, there are a quite a number of really illustrious candidates who are deserving of anyone’s consideration. The militants from the House of Representatives, among them Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo and Risa Hontiveros Baraquel have filed their candidacies. I was expecting Teddy Casiño to also run for the Senate but for some strange reason I didn’t find his name among the list of those who filed certificates of candidacies. We may disagree with the specific points of their advocacies, but one cannot argue the nobility of what these people are fighting for.

And then there are the candidates whose individual brilliance has been proven and who represent various critical concerns and constituencies; the likes of Martin Bautista, Danton Remoto, Susan Ople, Sonia Roco, Alex Lacson, etc. I personally think that a Senate with roster composed of this people would be a great source of pride and inspiration. I am not really sure what exactly they are bringing to the senate, but newscasters Rey Langit, Kata Inocencio, and Gilbert Remulla are also in the list of candidates.

As if having Enrile, Gringo Honasan, and Antonio Trillanes is not yet enough two other former military officers - others would prefer that they be described as renegades—Danilo Lim and Ariel Querubin are also vying for the Senate. Not to be outdone, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also wants to be senator.


As a resident of Manila, I realize that I have to be just as careful of whom I will vote to represent my area.

In this case, it's currently Rep. Bienvenido Abante, whom I have just found out has filed a bill that aims to make same-sex marriages outright illegal.


The bill goes as far as to penalize ANY church that marries gays, which would be troubling for local organizations such as the Church of Unitarian Universalists.

And like Comelec, Abante's assertion is that gays are inherently immoral.

I'm using quite a lot of willpower to keep myself from calling Abante all sorts of ugly, politically incorrect names at this point.

Damn, and here I thought Ang Ladlad's troubles were only with Comelec.
Anonymous said…
Querubin and Gen. Lim are very idealistic, but what can they do if they are behind bars? Trillanes, hello!?
Bong C. Austero said…
Ordinarily, I would still respect anyone with an opinion divergent from mine. However, Abante is an animal of a completely different breed - very showbiz and has the tendency to play to the orchestra. I think that he is simply using gay rights as a platform to gain media attention. I have it from reliable sources that in many media interviews, he actually apologizes and makes chummy with LGBT representatives during breaks.
Bong C. Austero said…
Panyero, if they win, that would mean three senators who get paid their salaries and perks while in prison.


Then wouldn't that make him a backstabbing hypocrite?

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