Monday, December 21, 2009

Wrong message

This is my column today.

I do not agree with Nicanor Perlas’ assertion that the fact that a number of media organizations have already invited him to participate in various public forums for so-called presidentiables is already more than enough argument that he is qualified to run for president. I can understand the very high value he puts on his advocacy and his capabilities —I am sure that he is a very competent person. Quite frankly, his performance in the couple of public forums featuring the so-called presidentiables and in his various media outings left so much to be desired; which is precisely why I think Perlas should not anchor his appeal by citing his participation in these media events.

Besides, the idea of making media exposure a basis for deciding whether or not candidates for public office have what it takes to run for public is dangerous. Aside from the fact that people with unlimited resources have already shown no compunction about buying media airtime to prop up their candidacies, it’s relatively easier for certain types of people in this country to get media mileage. I dread the thought of future elections being decided solely on how much media mileage a candidate has racked up in his or her favor.

But I agree with Perlas on another point. The main reason given by the Commission on Elections for declaring him a nuisance candidate and disqualifying him for the 2010 elections is objectionable. The Comelec, in so many words, said that Perlas and many other candidates do not have the money necessary to win elections.

What the Comelec said, in effect, is that elections in this country are all about money. Forget principles. Forget about platforms, ideologies, advocacies. Forget about idealism. It’s all about whether one has money or not.

By extension, what the Comelec has validated as a fact is the general notion that only people with money can run for public office. Of course common sense tells us that running for public office would require some money to be used for campaign purposes. But God help us if the Comelec, the very institution that is supposedly vested with the sacred task of ensuring fair and honest elections, cites lack of money as the reason why certain citizens have to be divested with the right to participate in elections.

I agree with Perlas: The Comelec decision rankles because it sends the wrong message.

But I do understand the Comelec’s need to trim the list of candidates. Having more than 10 candidates for the presidency is an administrative nightmare for everyone involved particularly in the canvassing of votes. The Comelec is also in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation— those rendered disqualified will always find something wrong in its decision regardless of the reasons cited.

I also think that this collective preoccupation with political correctness very often gets out of hand and produces lots of static that complicates matters. But still, it wouldn’t hurt for the Comelec to actually coach its decisions in ways that show some objective and careful thinking process.

The assumption of Jose Melo as chairman of the Comelec raised expectations. However, the recent decisions of the Comelec have left many people, including this writer, wondering if the Comelec under Melo’s watch can deliver fair, honest and clean elections in 2010.

The recent decisions of the Comelec unseating two governors—Bulacan’s Joselito Mendoza and Isabela’s Grace Padaca—were highly anomalous. Both are stalwarts of the Liberal Party and critics of the administration. Surely the twin incidents cannot be mere coincidences?

Melo also cast the deciding vote that junked Ang Ladlad’s appeal for party-list accreditation. Melo parroted the Second Division’s bigoted justification despite general condemnation from a lot of sectors including the Commission on Human Rights. If it’s any consolation, at least we now know that there are three other commissioners in the Comelec that have something else between their ears other than a face.

The Comelec, however, disqualified Ang Ladlad’s president, Ateneo de Manila professor Danton Remoto, as candidate for senator citing lack of money. Gen. Danny Lim was disqualified while Col. Ariel Querubin was declared qualified. Gen. Jovito Palparan, however, was rendered qualified. I have given up trying to figure out the logic behind these decisions.

***

The actions of the members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the National Press Club when they mobbed Andal Ampatuan Jr. last Friday were also quite unnerving. These also sent the wrong message.

I also think that Andal Ampatuan Jr and his accomplices should be made to account for the carnage at Maguindanao. I also am incensed at his seeming lack of remorse—he certainly does not even make an attempt to look innocent. But we still shouldn’t take matters into our hands.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post.

Melo resign! Melo resign!

Contents under pressue said...

Regarding Ladlad, Melo reasoned that they were simply complying with the moral norms that Christians and Muslims adhered to for hundreds of years.

Somebody ought to remind him that it was not until the mid 1800s that slavery was finally abolished.

It was only few decades ago that black were were treated as second-class citizens.

And today, Muslim women are still treated as second-class citizens, if not as mere property.

All these lasted for the simple fact that people saw them as the "moral" norm of their time.

Melo should realize that like people, human morals change over time. Hopefully in a way that becomes less reliant on unsubstantiated elements such as race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

In short, I think he is being a fucking moron.