[OPINION] Mixed nuts and nuisance candidates 1

[OPINION] Mixed nuts and nuisance candidates

Dean Dela Paz

Posted at Oct 20 2021 03:34 AM

Wearing olive green fatigues, armed with a bullhorn, playing loud music, and towing a makeshift wood and carton cart, prospective Philippine Senator Daniel Magtira led a one-man caravan to file his certificate of candidacy (COC). He claimed to be the husband of actress Kris Aquino. And he wanted to be a lawmaker.

Those credentials are nothing new. A sizable number of candidates who later won as either senator or even president had, at some point, been actual entertainers, married one, or had parlayed their celebrity status to starstruck constituencies to earn undeserved seats in government. Clowns, comedians, and court jesters have long been a part of the bureaucracy.

Had Magtira worn a grey business suit and a black tie, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) security personnel might have let him through, and he might now be a genuine presidential placeholder candidate for 2022. Perhaps it was the military peaked cap he wore or the Kool and the Gang soundtrack he sang to that were dead giveaways. Though it was extremely painful to watch, we have seen music videos of presidential spokespersons belting out tunes with greater panache.

They may not be playing with a full bag of marbles, but they are not half as crazy as an asylum of officials who invariably legitimize their delusions and COC, or the straitjacketed electorate that might actually vote them into office.

Indeed the circus is in town. There are 97 aspirants for the presidency. In 2016, there were 130 where one slipped through.

Simply analyze the bag of mixed nuts lying before the COMELEC. On the last day of filing, a sitting official who admitted that he neither had the funds nor the machinery to mount a nationwide campaign was allowed to join the presidential forays. Never mind that having the financial wherewithal is one of the criteria to separate nuisances from those serious and legitimate.

The incumbent official was considered a viable candidate. Given presidential pronouncements in the days that followed that were virtual endorsements for him and for military men dreaming to be heads of state, despite such stellar blessings, the public, long-accustomed to presidential absurdities, did not seem to fall for the fib. The public has wizened up and considers him either a nuisance or a placeholder candidate. Such reflects on the credibility of both the party and the president endorsing him, and on the credibility of the candidate filing his COC.

One astute reporter pointedly asked if he was not mocking the electoral processes. The question was rhetorical. The public knows the answer.

The COCs have yet to be culled and pruned. Such nuance and nuisance will percolate until mid-November, while others will stew until 2022. Remember Alejo Santos who challenged Ferdinand Marcos in 1981? The COMELEC had considered him a legitimate presidential challenger.

Unfortunately, nuisance candidates accredited by the COMELEC invariably cannibalize from the otherwise credible candidates. Note how, of the five presidential contenders, two package themselves on both sides of the political aisle, clawing from any they can deceive.

Because the COMELEC has such low standards, nuisance candidates are expected to break through their sieve, especially those who muster a moderate following enough to impact, negatively dilute and result in plurality mandates.

Given the divisive arithmetic and the inflamed passions of political partisanship that we allow to dominate our lives and wreak havoc on relationships, the resulting government will forever be volatile, off-kilt, threatened, and reliant on the unthinking and canine loyalty of security forces. Hence, far from the democratic ideal, the fascist nature of plurality autocrats.

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(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.