Advocates of voter education rightfully admonish voters to be more discerning and elect on the basis of merit, experience, character, and platform. That takes a fair amount of investment in time, critical analysis, and brain power. It also involves self-actualization, culling of preconceived notions, and a good deal of honesty that we might have been wrong with our past choices or the present ones to which we surrendered our fate.
When we add Filipino feelings of subservience and surrender, fatalism, and our belief in the power of fortune, the cumulative effort necessary to tear down long petrified misconceptions appear quite formidable.
This takes us along the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, our propensity to value personality politics, starstruck with celebrity persona, however contrived and illusory, populism and the absence of ideology-based political parties collectively compel the simplest, the laziest and dumbest criteria.
The pushback may be cultural, it is certainly sociological, and the aberration underlying the inertia, deeply embedded in our DNA by such factors as regionalism, education, religion, poverty, and a slew of other complex coefficients so formidable that calls for voter education typically go unheeded.
The circus surrounding the PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan) and the permutations and combinations floated are proof. Name-calling replaces discourse. Contortions trump the Constitution. The folly cannot be clearer than the government we have against our real desire for better governance.
Amid the complexity required by voter education, cognizant of the plasticity of promises and motherhood statements, the basic admonition is to discern party platforms.
Confronted by the 2022 elections, we are fortunate to have a real-life laboratory by which we can analyze platforms exposed by the sharp polarization of partisan politics. The extremism that characterizes the ruling powers seeking to perpetuate itself against change offered by the opposition divides between black and white.
In 2007, a party running on a platform of traditional albeit distinctly exclusive Roman Catholic “Papal” edicts and beliefs fielded three senatorial candidates. All lost. After announcing it would field over four thousand by 2010, of the thirty who ran in 2007, only one won a city council seat. Emboldened, he later vied for the presidency and garnered all of 44,244 votes. Subsequently, in all elections, the party ended up as losers.
For 2022, ignoring the demands of the pandemic, debilitating unemployment, rising poverty, the external threat of a hostile hegemon and the internal decay of unmitigated corruption, its party leadership obstinately prioritizes abolishing bank secrecy, amending the Freedom of Information Act, gun-lessness, anti-dynasties, and Federalism.
Few directly address the electorate’s immediate priorities, poverty, unemployment, and healthcare. Ironically, its three volunteer candidates come with personal platforms apart from the party’s highest leadership. The tail wags the dog. But sleeping with dogs, one is likely to wake with fleas. Evoking the 1992 Perot prospect, the surrender to identity politics is evident. The second metaphor however cautions that festering myopia remains transmissible.
Fortunately, the true opposition prioritizes a platform of everything the ruling party is not. And their candidate vetting adheres to platform-based criteria. The platform picks the candidate. The spectrum ranges from adherence to laws, anti-corruption, anti-tyranny, non-violence, sovereignty, economic competence, intelligent pandemic responses to basic decency and righteousness. All-inclusive, all are relevant and responsive.
Against the same imperatives, Duterte’s PDP-Laban rationalizes its ticket to perpetuate his platform on his fearsome anti-terror agenda, his deadly anti-drugs war, and his “build, build, build” bode. Note absolutely nothing addresses colossal corruption shrouding his administration or the pandemic’s demands.
Save for the opposition, the platforms of each Duterte surrogate, clone or former enabler do not matter.
(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics professor.)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.