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May 15

We, the People: How Candidates view The People as Electors

Last week, a Leadership Forum was held in the Ateneo de Manila where putative presidential candidates subjected themselves to questioning for the first time. Today Inquirer editorial called the exercise an example of Maturity unfolding. It suggests that the public is keen on watching candidates confront each other, and that dodging debates, as Joseph Estrada, Fernando Poe Jr. and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did, won’t wash with the electorate anymore.

It’s interesting to compare how a grizzled old veteran like Amando Doronila (in a nutshell, he says Nobody got away undiminished) and young observers who blogged their reactions, compare to each other in terms of their reactions to the debate. I particularly enjoyed the blog entries of So far, so good, Philippines Rising, jessie’s wicked world of reality and Jolly Life. The respective media teams of the various candidates will gain a valuable insight into what young people, in particular, thought of the whole exercise.

But once again, let me revisit John Nery’s February 10 column, in which he pointed out that there was something remarkable about how The 2010 race is set. The public, acting as a communal self-limiting mechanism on politics, has, quite early on, narrowed the field. And let me point to another, more recent column of his from April 7, on how The vice-presidency is subtraction:

[M]y hypothesis: Since the snap election, the principal role of the vice-presidential running mate has changed. To be more precise, since 1986 the winning presidential candidate’s decision-making process for selecting a running mate has turned from addition to subtraction.

In other words, the main value of the vice presidency in election politics is tactical: It provides a presidential candidate the best way to sideline a strong rival.

The classical dictum of electoral politics, as famously expressed by the late Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, is that “politics is addition.” But since 1992, in the absence of rules and other mechanisms that foster majority presidencies, the opposite has become political conventional wisdom: from “dagdag-bawas” to coalitions formed, not to create large movements, but to hobble others, politics has become subtraction. It has also, as a result of demographic trends, become less national, in a sense. We saw this emerge in 1986, when, for the first time since national elections for the presidency began in 1935, the “North-South” rule was junked, in putting together both the administration and opposition presidential and vice-presidential teams.

Marcos-Tolentino and Aquino-Laurel were both all-Luzon tickets; and while in 1992 and 1998, no single ticket won, both Ramos-Estrada and Estrada-Macapagal ended up all-Luzon presidencies and vice-presidencies. When, for the first time since 1986, a unified ticket “won” both the presidency and vice-presidency, the Macapagal-de Castro ticket was an all-Luzon one. And there’s a simple reason: Luzon matches the votes of the Visayas and Mindanao combined; and in particular, the extended National Capitol Region, which encompasses, in political reality, vote-rich areas of Southern Luzon, is a bloc capable of giving the presidency to a candidate in closely-fought, multi-candidate contest.

Consider the implications of the data in this image, which distills the relative populations of Luzon vs. Visayas plus Mindanao, and the accessibility of radio and TV to the population.

I bring this up because of a column Tony Abaya recently published (see Crystal Balls) in which he boils down the points put forward by Tony Gatmaitan, another grizzled veteran of the political game. I’ve slightly re-ordered the relevant details, as reported by Abaya.

First, here are the issues that will matter in the presidential campaign:

That the issues will be the core issues of economic recovery, accountability, graft and corruption, peace in Mindanao, poverty alleviation, foreign policy, the environment.

Second, that the personal characteristics the electorate wants to see in candidates are:

That the qualities being sought by voters in a president are: magaling (good, competent), madaling lapitan (easily approachable)., mapagmalasakit sa mga mahihirap (will work for the benefit of the poor).

Third, that the electorate, as a subset of the larger population, is as follows:

32.4 million voters are expected to vote, out of 45 million registered voters.

Fourth, that the candidates will be competing on the basis of what has been demonstrated before, in terms of the vote-getting power of past candidates:

[T]he previous top vote getters in a presidential/vice presidential election have been Estrada (10 million) and De Castro (15 m); in senatorial elections: Roxas (19 m), Legarda (18 m).

Fifth, that if these are the benchmarks in terms of what is “doable,” in terms of courting votes, then the political math works out as follows:

In a three-way race, 11.8 m votes or 30 percent are enough to win. In a four-way race, 9.1 m votes or 28 percent; in a five-way race (most likely), 7.8 m votes or 24 percent, would be enough to win. In the 1992 seven-way presidential elections, Fidel Ramos won a plurality of only 23 percent.

Sixth, the electorate will be courted, not by means of old-style barrio-to-barrio barnstorming and stump-speeching sorties, but by means of what’s called the “Air War”:

In 2010, television and radio would be the main field of combat and will account for 50-55 percent of candidates’ expenses: ground level logistics and organizational expenses 30-35%; and cyberspace – internet, texting propaganda – only 15-20 percent.

(Gatmaitan first put forward the idea of how cellphones and to a much smaller extent, cyberspace would matter, politically, in 2008, see my entry for May 14, 2008 see, also, a May 8, 2008 news report by ABS-CBNNews.com ).

At this point, let me put forward what all the candidates have in common, in terms of viewing the public as an electorate, and that is, they are approaching things according to the perspective of the advertising industry. Let me put forward my personal opinion that Advertising methods and approaches have become dominant, in no small part, because of changes in the composition of society. Formerly significant sectors, organized as blocs, have shriveled away and except, perhaps, for the mobilizing power of some churches and parties, there’s no other way to attract and mobilize people, except by means of the strategies employed to get the same people to buy soap, etc.”

employed persons chart
employed persons by group chart

The advertising industry looks at the broader population by breaking it down into segments, based on income and lifestyle:

bysocioeconomicclass

Another way of subdividing things, on the presumption you vote according to your wallet (and the lifestyle its contents can buy you), with AB being High Income, C being Middle Income, and DE Low Income:

income classes

You could then zero in on various subsets of these groups, whether in terms of age, or in terms of location (particularly useful for courting regional voting blocs, or where households are more likely to vote as blocs), or say, in terms of urban versus rural populations:

urbanpopulation

So this would be the picture, nationally:

demographics national

And here is the equally-relevant (if not actually more so) picture of the NCR:

metro manila demographics

So if you’re a candidate in a crowded field, what do you do? Who do you go after? Again, let’s reproduce the breakdown:

bysocioeconomicclass

Class AB, your Captains of Industry and the Boards of Directors, will probably have its heavy-hitters flee the country or go on vacation come election time, or make their clout felt by financially supporting candidates. In any case, statistically, even in a close elections, their votes matter less, because liable to be too independent to court as a demographic.

Class C, the Middle Class, has two components, really.

C1, the Upper Middle Class, is your aspirational class, your Professional Classes who have their own vehicles and own their own homes, your Upper Management, aspiring to the status of, and sharing many of the values of, AB, will vote as AB does. That is, unpredictably. Even if you got them as a demographic, you’d have to ask if the resources and time required would be worth it.

C2 your Broad Middle Class, Midlevel to Lower Management, with a steady income but still renting rather than owning homes, may feel more ambivalent about, if not resentful of, AB, yet shares with AB and C1, a resentment and fear of, E. Therefore, it can be nudged in one direction or another, as a demographic.

Though one politically-active advertising person I talked to says Classes ABC are better off treated as one chunk, with similar aspirations (and perhaps, prejudices?). And put together, ABC can compete with D and E.

Class D, the Working Class, according to one advertising person I spoke to, can be broken down as follows:

D1 holds jobs; your salaried employees in factories, etc.

D2 occasionally works, whether seasonal work or without the benefit of permanent jobs, for example your SM salesgirls.

Put together, Class D has the lion’s share of the votes. Will it likely share more in common with E, in terms of the values that will mobilize its members to vote for one candidate or another (emotional or idealistic or pragmatic appeals?); can it be mobilized in solidarity with, or opposition to Class E? Whatever the case, Class D is large and broad enough for all candidates to be willing to exert effort to actively compete to get a piece of that segment.

Class E, the Unemployed, is, perhaps, almost exclusively the preserve of the Machine politicians, in that they are more likely to already be incorporated in the command vote networks.

This is a picture that essentially underlines what is a perennial frustration of the blogger demographic, which everyone basically assumes is a largely Middle Class one: that as a constituency, the Middle Class is relatively unimportant, politically:

middle class
Still, how would you motivate people to vote for you?

Appeal to idealism? Reform. A Better Philippines. A Fresh Start. Change.

Appeal to pragmatism? Jobs. Benefits. Security. Stability. Discipline. Order.

Ideally, appeal to both sides, the Yin and Yang, of as many people as possible?

Or bring in the Fear Factor? Here is where the Republican Playbook (its continuing evolution can be seen in this entry in The Treatment and in a Miami Herald story), used to such effective advantage by the present administration, comes in:
Republican Playbook

Next time, I’ll explore, further, information that might be relevant in exploring the pocketbook-as-vote-getter.

31 comments

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  1. Carl

    None of the present crop of Presidentiables seems to scare the bejesus out of the elite and the middle classes. On the other hand, none of the Presidentiables seems to elicit much fervor and excitement.

    It also seems that there will be a large number of aspirants. So it will most likely boil down to funding, organizing and packaging the candidates. Deeper pockets, better organization and a catchy campaign theme will probably do the trick. Entertainment, rather than inspiration, will be the star attraction.

    When the campaigning starts, all the Philippines is a stage!

  2. lpgd

    isn’t it frustrating to see politicians getting elected because of their looks or just by how well they to appeal to the emotions?

    the fact that majority of the population belongs to the c and d class does not bode well for those who hope to see a campaign period where only real issues and platforms are discussed and showbiz antics are ignored and rejected.

    i would like to believe that, as the inquirer editorial suggests, filipino voters are now more mature. i’m hoping this maturity would present itself during the campaign period. it would be great to hear about a candidate being ostracized because he opted for a song and dance number rather than a serious presentation of his plans for the country.

  3. UP n grad

    More of such Q&A’s with presidentiables are needed. I am glad that the question was asked about the presidentiables’ position on how to deal with the the alleged criminal activities of the Arroyo family.

  4. BrianB

    Wtf, and I thought I was class AB. Diba B is upper middle? Tang ina, class war na to!

  5. Carl

    Nothing certain about what candidates say they’ll do. Can’t take campaign rhetoric at face value. Promises are meant to be broken. And, often, harsh, pragmatic realities cause a rethinking of what were thought to be cut-and-dried courses of action.

    Consider the case of Barack Obama, who has kept most of his campaign promises so far. But, recently, when faced with prosecuting Republican officials for torture, the realities of the office have forced him to back off.

  6. ramrod

    Unfortunately, elections have to be won. On top of all the ideal characteristics we have for a presidentiable we have to add “winnabilility” otherwise its another lost cause…

  7. ramrod

    …and all these mudslinging? Are Philippine elections won by people who can badmouth the most? …but its easy to get caried away sometimes and join the fray, I know, until I experienced firsthand how it feels like when you’re at the short end of the stick. Its funny, but most mudslingers, maligners, and the like tend to go at each other’s throats given the circumstances…

  8. rego

    i dont think mudslinging and badmouthing during election only happens in the philippines. been observing a lot of elections in the US and some are worse than that in the Philippines. The dirtiest I found was that of New Jersey electoion for gevernor between Gove Corzine and his opponent ( cant remember his name now) Even the last presidential election is riddled with mudsliging.

    The big difference i believe is that after the election tahimik na rin ang mga kandidato. Sa pinas its a neverending mudslinging. Plus walang natatalo sa eleksyon nadadaya lang lagi

  9. Madonna

    We seem to be hoping against hope that elections could still offer us change for the country. Increasingly, as I grow older, and as a voter who has consistently voted in every election since I turned 18 and joined efforts to safeguard the ballot, I can’t seem to shake the realization that our electoral politics fails to cull not only the best potential leaders but that the social system props up what is at best an artificial democratic apparatus in elections in a patently undemocratic society.

    And yet, what a laugh, I would still vote and am actively interested in the coming elections. The alternative scenarios are vague (Ako Mismo and a host of myriad civil society concoctions), escapist (migrating to a foreign country) or simply destructive (revolution anyone?) to even contemplate.

    On the view of candidates regarding electors: Maybe there a data set that is not coming from ad agencies (attributes or indicators are geared towards consumer preferences when buying goods or services) that would be consistent or more apt to represent voters who are strictly “not buying” goods. The irony is too bitter to contemplate. And who is buying who? Bentahan ang dating, although totoo naman that every election is a vote-buying spree.

    There is no class war in the Philippines to the detriment of the “change” constituencies — only probably “resentment” from the lower classes and patronage from the upper classes which is emotion-based, cultivated in popular culture by soap operas and the movies and not as a matter of idealistic notions of social equality based on economic rights, which in itself is the most effective springboard for societal change. The resentment and patronizing attitudes then get muddled and brushed off with our values stemming from religious piety and every Pinoy gets reconciled under “Bro” and “loves” one another. Result: status quo over and over again.

  10. Carl

    Status quo over and over again is right! It’s like Yogi Berra’s “déjà vu all over again”, every election year.

    I think Manolo once likened our situation to the myth of Sisyphus. The rich keep getting richer and monopolize most of the opportunities, forcing the middle classes to seek greener pastures abroad. The poor keep getting poorer, yet continue to multiply their spawn like germs.

    We never learn. And we don’t seem to want to learn. As a people, we seem to prefer to be amused than educated. Mababaw and kaligayahan natin. That may sometimes be a good thing. But it’s bad in the long run, because it prevents us from taking our fate into our own hands. We shy away from taking the bull by the horns.

    And the ruling classes know that. They take advantage of that to perpetuate themselves. So, instead of change and deep-seated reforms, we continually go back to the bread and circus routine.

  11. mlq3

    What I’m trying to explore is that it makes less and less sense for politicians to approach campaigns from the perspective of forming a broad-based national coalition or appealing to a cross-section of the population; that, since 1987, there has been little to no incentive to take into account middle class interests or advocacies in elections, ironic because a legacy of the middle classes’ great political accomplishment, edsa; that on the one hand, if it is dangerous or undesirable to have politics and politicians more sensitive or dependent on the upper class, it is equally dangerous and undesirable to have political office dependent on the segment that is unemployed or temporarily employed; and that as minority politics becomes even more entrenched, the influence of minorities like organized churches and ethnic blocs is growing and further warps things.

  12. Bert

    Manolo is right. Politicians plan only for their own vested interests and merely go through the motion of running a vigorous campaign during election periods without any thoughts of the interests of any sector but just of winning the election. They are an audacious lot, braving the risks of any turmoil by enriching themselves, abusing their position while in power and having the gall to perpetuate themselves and their families while displaying a facade of token good governance.

    What’s more frustrating is that, even the clean politician can and do turned into the worst politician after winning the election, such that, if ever we can find the real good president we desired who has the intellect and the will, and the wherewithal to make things happen that will really benefit the nation and all the people can only be considered as an accident…or good luck.

  13. mlq3

    bert, i do think you overlook what most people do, which is, what if the politicians genuinely believe they’re helping people? and that most of the voters do, too? but that our -and most asian societies, perhaps- make allowances for tribute and perks as the rewards of office?

  14. Carl

    ‘Gov’t beholden to very few who hold RP wealth’

    Interesting article in today’s Inquirer. Although stating the obvious, Chief Justice Reynato Puno reminds us about the symbiotic relationship between our economic and political elite, and how this creates the environment for corruption, poverty and inequitable distribution of wealth.

    Here’s the link to the article:
    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090517-205433/Puno-Oligarchs-still-rule

    Politicians may genuinely believe they’re helping people – in their own way. I’m sure that most politicians, in their own warped logic, convince themselves, and a good number of their constituents, that they are helping people. De Venecia, the crooked trapo that he may be, probably has convinced himself and some of his followers that he did a lot of good. I would bet that Erap thinks so too. And so does GMA. Don’t forget that even convicted politicians like Romy Jalosjos have die-hard supporters who truly believe he did a lot of good for his constituency. Jalosjos, or his surrogate, always wins elections in his province.

    I think that it goes beyond allowances for tribute and perks. It is patronage on the part of the elite, and dependency on the part of the public. They feed upon each other.

    Like an addiction, we need to shake ourselves out of this vicious circle of patronage and neediness. But can we? It is convenient for the oligarchy to keep this relationship. And, while they have power over government, will they use the bully pulpit of government to level the playing field and give more opportunities to the rest of society?

  15. lpgd

    “bert, i do think you overlook what most people do, which is, what if the politicians genuinely believe they’re helping people? and that most of the voters do, too?”

    interesting point. the qualifier here of course is the word “believe” and therein lies the problem. considering how weak our check and balances are and the fact we don’t really have a law that can stop government officials from stealing, it is inevitable that even candiidates with the best of intentions will inevitably succumb to temptation. they need only believe that they are entitled to a few billion pesos for corruption to occur and they need only believe that they have done the country good to justify their action.

    “but that our -and most asian societies, perhaps- make allowances for tribute and perks as the rewards of office?”

    this should not be the case. if we want a better future for our country we should all reject this mentality. i agree with you mr. quezon some people think this way.

    “What’s more frustrating is that, even the clean politician can and do turned into the worst politician after winning the election, such that, if ever we can find the real good president we desired who has the intellect and the will, and the wherewithal to make things happen that will really benefit the nation and all the people can only be considered as an accident…or good luck.”

    “What’s more frustrating is that, even the clean politician can and do turned into the worst politician after winning the election…”

    This is inevitable. What most of us fail to acknowledge is that as humans we all have it in us to be corrupt. So just imagine how difficult it would be for even the most upright politician (if such an animal even existed) to fight off the temptation to steal.

    so are we doomed to graft and corruption forever. no, if we start helping our lawmakers come up with the ultimate law that would put a stop to graft and corruption. we cannot leave this lawmaking process to them. can we really expect them to come up with real anti-corruption laws by themselves?

    instead of clamoring for something as vague as “change” we should demand for a real solution to graft and corruption.

    (my apologies to mr. quezon if this is a little off topic)

  16. Madonna

    “what if the politicians genuinely believe they’re helping people? and that most of the voters do, too?”

    Ahahaha, sorry Manolo this is patently a “what if” that is quite uninformed. Most politicians, looking at the track records of local and national leaders are patently self-seeking or are merely bored out of their cushy asses (which is I think a far more prevalent and more virulent or dangerous kind of politician). Most view their offices as a way to pursue power (power, being the ultimate aphrodisiac that beats even money) and business interests together. This is not to say that there a few and brave who do go into seeking office to serve the public and their constituences.

    And voters? They are so wise from long, bitter experience: they know that politicians don’t accomplish much from their offices — and that 500 pesos or 1000 during election time is perhaps the only time they can extract their pound of flesh. We can’t blame them too much, at least not as much as the other “more” responsible parties.

    I take umbrage though at the Catholic Church (was it through Cardinal Sin?) when it famously said that one should accept the money and vote according to one’s conscience — which is a f****ing HYPOCRITICAL BULLSHIT coming from an institution that supposedly knows what is right from wrong. I took the statement as proof that the Roman Catholic Church in the country is in itself a bastion of corruption, meaning they too accept manna from politicians and then pray for their frakking souls afterward (how nice ‘no?!).

    I think we should go beyond looking at government as the battleground for societal change. The landscape is a false simulcrum of democracy. We are pounding at grinning clown or monster that is invincible because we don’t know its weaknesses when we rant and rave against corruption. Graft and corruption are not the cause/s of our ills — they are the effects of a flawed system.

    Maybe we ought to start defining what we value or ought to value as a people.

  17. Bert

    “bert, i do think you overlook what most people do, which is, what if the politicians genuinely believe they’re helping people? and that most of the voters do, too? but that our -and most asian societies, perhaps- make allowances for tribute and perks as the rewards of office?”-mlq3

    There’s an inconsistency there, Manolo. When greed is the norm, “genuinely believe they’re helping the people” is not an honest term. Let me be candid and simple. If a president steals without moderation, or allows her/his family or relatives, or his/her minnions for her/his sake or for themselves, then it defeats the purpose of a genuine concern for the people and the country. Therefore it’s just token concern, a false facade. If the president cannot/do not have the control on his subordinates where she/he can say “the bucks stop here”, then she/he do not have the wherewithal to make things happen that will really benefit the people and the country.

    What we need is a president who is really, as in really, honest in the truest sense of the word, who can say, “I will take care of myself and family first but not so much because the welfare of the Filipino and the welfare of my country are paramount to me.” To find that kind of politician, I say, is ‘suntok sa buwan’. But we have to continue looking for it…our ‘Holy Grail’.

    What is so hard about being a moderately honest person, a moderately honest president, that we cannot find it? Is it the truth that greed transcends all other human virtues in us the Filipino as a people?

  18. mlq3

    Bert, this returns me to a a point I’ve made before. Salaries.

  19. mlq3

    Madonna, politics is a tiring profession, honest or not; all I’m saying is from what I’ve seen of politicians most are of the belief they’re actually helping people.

  20. rego

    I do belive that the politicians are helping the people and the people also believe that they are being help.

    But the peole should learn what kind of help they really wanted from politicians. And the politicians should learn what kind of help to give that really uplift the peoples lives.

    Enough of those short term help.

  21. Carl

    “. . . all I’m saying is from what I’ve seen of politicians most are of the belief they’re actually helping people.” – mlq3

    I basically agree, although I would adjoin that this comes about as a result of the following:
    1. A warped and self-serving process of reasoning.
    2. The bar has been set very low. Our woeful standards for performance, ethics and morality result in what Chief Justice Puno says is our “weakness of values”.

    I have no doubt that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is convinced that she has done a whole lot to help the people and the country. And her supporters, which Manolo reckons to be about 25% of the population, are just as convinced. They will even have figures and statistics to substantiate this.

    I have known many scoundrels who are manage to convince themselves that they are really heroes if, perhaps, sometimes misunderstood. Even terrorists and criminals like the Abu Sayyaf manage to see themselves as champions of their people, and so do their followers.

    I still recall how a quintessential trapo like Monching Mitra used to brag how, as Speaker of the House, he was responsible for building several thousand basketball courts all over the country, as if this were a monumental and earth-shaking achievement. What is usually never mentioned in these self-congratulatory narratives is: “At what cost?” Since those basketball courts were pork barrel projects, a lot of the money allocated for them were pocketed by Congressmen. That’s politics.

    I have also heard the likes of Joe De Venecia boast about his accomplishments as Speaker, with no less fervor and self-satisfaction. I have no doubt that these politicians have managed to delude themselves into believing their own tales. And I have no doubt that there are many who also believe them. They may not be entirely wrong, but these are a series of half-truths that are weaved into a fabric that is held up as an accomplished fact. For example, a completed project, of which 50% of its costs went into kickbacks, can be held up as a tangible accomplishment. And a good part of the public will still be grateful for it, simply because it was done.

  22. ramrod

    We cannot impose our own set of values and limitations to these “powerful” people. Neither can we tell them what to do with their time and money. Lets face it, when you get to be in that position of power and influence (and affluence), you don’t listen to the little people, the little people don’t know whats good for them – only you do.
    There is a noticeable “wave” of “ethics” formation/strengthening in the global corporate environment,
    with code of ethics almost as idealistic as most honor codes of military schools, then there’s sustainability movements, I believe that eventually these powerful people – politicians right up to the oligarchs will realize that it is to their interest in the long run to adopt a sustainable approach, and this is only possible if there is transparency, justice, and a responsible approach to people and the environment.
    I have long since given up on “changing” the minds of powerful people by making noise, I can only hope that they change on their own, if not this generation, then the next.

  23. Madonna

    In a political system, the people at the top will not change if you don’t make them — and this is true in the experience of modern states and governments all over the world.

    “Lets face it, when you get to be in that position of power and influence (and affluence), you don’t listen to the little people, the little people don’t know whats good for them – only you do.” — only strictly true with fascists and degenerates

  24. Madonna

    “Madonna, politics is a tiring profession, honest or not; all I’m saying is from what I’ve seen of politicians most are of the belief they’re actually helping people.”

    Then I have a different viewpoint or speaking from my own experience, as a member of my own class and as a long-time voter as to the view whether that belief touches base with real outcomes. But the truth is, I think the time when most of our politicians rise to become statesmen is when our country can really have a big reason to hope.

  25. ramrod

    madonna,
    Like you too, I just try to choose and vote as responsibly as I can. I used to believe in radical changes, but call it old age or whatever…I just respect the will of the majority and deal with it, put in my own humble contribution for the good of the country and hope that things turn out better with each passing year…

  26. ramrod

    In a political system, the people at the top will not change if you don’t make them — and this is true in the experience of modern states and governments all over the world.
    ——————————————————-

    In our case, or even in other countries, these people will change not because “we make them” to, we can never do that. They will change because they realize its in their best interest to do so, and make it look like they did it for us. Then again, its small increments of compromises that they make a big fuss of showing to everybody that they did it because we asked for it. Bottomline, they still need to get something out of the changes they will make…

  27. ramrod

    madonna,
    Then again, its just my own opinion…I will be happier if I’m proven wrong…

  28. Madonna

    ramrod,

    Let us look into the impeachments of Clinton and Nixon in the US or indictments of CEOs implicated in corporate scandals. These men basically did their stuff just because they could. TO state the obvious, human nature is that if you could, you would — and that is especially most true in an environment where power and entitlement are a given.

    Of course with the experience with Clinton, et al, there were legal and political mechanisms in place to make just punishments (censure for Clinton and forced resignation with Nixon and a host of cases against rogue CEOs).

    In our case, our legal mechanisms are weak and fail to address the problems or impasse in times of abuse of authority. The problem has to be in our social make-up, in our society, not in our political system, per se. In our case, we have been allowing rent-seekers and rotten politicians (who as Puno correctly noted hold hostage our government) a merry romp in the park of power for so long — and we naively think that they would change: left to their own ways, there is no compelling reason for them to change because their lot offers the best that life could offer in this side of the world, as long as they stay in their gated enclaves, cushy offices and stay safely in their tinted SUVs while continuing on their plundering and looting ways (perhaps it’s not even conscious — the system probably partly makes and turns them into thieves, which is really the most horrific truth in this).

    An appeal to decency or “morality” can only go so far. I’m not saying that we should do a Bastille or something of that sort — but just to keep an eye on what the real problems — the twin monster of oligarchical rule and elitism, one that even the dictator, Marcos has contemplated, tried to fight and dismally failed to solve. It is a formidable, complicated enemy and one that we should tackle with open and discerning eye lest we also become the very monster we are trying to slay, like what happened to the Apo Macoy.

  29. Josephine Bonsol

    Manolo, Hello, I’m josephine the girl who invited you as speaker for QC Div.Sch.PressCon. Please do contact me at 09175619026 so i can save your number.Nagpaagaw ba ng bag sa SM Supermarket.(sigh)
    Anyways, I truly agree with you that many politicians believe they are actually helping people. I don’t know about many politicians but my sister works for a congresswoman in Bulacan whose family ran politics for centuries in the same area and she was truly convinced this family was simply too rich that they only need to stay in power to keep their business and not to gain more money. According to her, the family spends more of their personal money than what was allocated in the district. The foundation raised and fund raising projects cannot actually feed the needs of the constituents in the area. I’m curious as to how she was made to believe that as of this day..hehehe

  30. iggy

    Most of us think that the President or the man or woman on the top has the sole right and power to bring us out of our own problems…but we might have forgotten that we too have the capacity to change and shape our own future…if our skills and talents are insufficient then we must shamelessly ask or encourage help from others….if we just took time to look around and instead of competing with each other, it would be most advantageous to cooperate with one another. Most filipinos are poor for we do not believe we are rich…we are already defeated in our own minds before we can even act upon our hopes and dreams…whoever the president maybe..89 or so Million or so filipinos against one person(president) ad/or,300-400+ senators is to 89 million,…now, see who has the power…

    just my 2 cents..

  31. taxj

    iggy, your 2 cents seems to be the pervading sentiment. Fortunately, there’s a world a step further.

    Will it make any difference if Among Ed, Chiz, Mar, Manny, Gibo or any other contender wins? No, it won’t! Elections bring nothing but false hopes and failed expectations. Mere changes in leadership never brought us relief. A few good men cannot deliver us from the abyss we have fallen into. What we need is a redistribution of tasks and resources by the government. It will boost individual initiatives.

    Since my retirement from government service my participation as a private citizen in a small municipality has been less than fruitful or rewarding, but at least, the struggle keeps me alive and hopeful. Sometimes it may seem like trying to extract juice from a week-old bone, but, I would rather do it anytime than bay the moon, which we do with Gloria bashing or cursing distant villains.

    I would support Among Ed or any candidate for that matter, if he includes in his platform a kind of fiscal federalism whereby more funds shall be placed at the discretion of Governors and City Mayors. Local chief executives could more effectively work for food security and poverty alleviation, if only because it is easier to work with and keep them in check. At least they would not be as elusive as the culprits in the billion-peso fertilizer and swine scams.

    The greatest anomaly created by Senator Nene Pimentel was the devolution of function of health, agriculture and social services functions while retaining the funds that makes imperial Manila what it is, imperial, and awash with more funds and tasks than it can judiciously handle. Believe it or not, the solution is simple enough: amend the Local Government Code accordingly! The challenge is how to make legislators do it.

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