Election time is just around the corner in the Philippines again with various seats in Congress up for grabs. The stakes are high. Pressure amongst the handful of feudal clans who rule the land to keep the goods within the family is mounting as the whelps of aging lords and ladies of various manors carved out of the former Spanish colony posture and grandstand for a slice of their daddies’ power pies.
One such whelp is Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel The Third (why one would use the name “Aquilino” three times in the family is anyone’s guess). In a spectacular exhibition of brattiness we have come to be so familiar with among the sons-of-politicians that now gleefully run the country like they once drove their daddies’ cars and swiped their mommies’ Visa cards, Koko, I read, stomped out of his party, the “United Nationalist Alliance” (UNA) in what seems to have been a fit of rage over “the coalition’s decision to keep Juan Miguel Zubiri on its 2013 Senate slate”.
“Galing ako sa bahay ni Erap [I came from Erap's residence], and I said, ‘Sorry Ninong,’ and we talked a little. But the former president did not make any effort to stop me,” Pimentel told reporters on Thursday.
Pimentel said that he could not stomach running with Zubiri because the latter was allegedly the biggest beneficiary of the fraud perpetuated in the 2007 polls.
“Hindi ko talaga masikmura na tumakbo kasama ang kalaban ko. It is my personal decision,” he said.
Pimentel said he would run as an independent senatorial candidate under PDP-Laban.
O sige na anak, meme na meme na…
Former Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, if we recall voluntarily resigned his position as Senator out of delicadeza (it seems) in mid-2011 after he was implicated in allegations of electoral fraud in the 2007 senatorial elections. Those allegations of cheating were, get this, initiated by losing candidate Koko Pimentel.
Pinoy nga naman talaga.
Even more bizarre (as the politics of feudal societies tend to be), Pimentel’s allegations were corroborated by suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan — the prime suspect in one of history’s worst orgy of civilian killings. Fifty seven people were massacred — allegedly under the instructions of Ampatuan — in 2009 (of which 32 were “media workers” as the Philippine Media seems to like to repeatedly point out ad nauseum).
Perhaps therein lies Koko’s pain. The bloodstained character of his cheating complaint notwithstanding, his triumphant taking of his Senate seat was napurnada; i.e., marred by the pogi (brownie) points Zubiri seems to have garnered after he was hailed as one of the extremely rare instances of a Filipino politician resigning out of a sense of honour.
Zubiri insists that he is not guilty of cheating and even said that he did not ask anyone any favors. He also insists that he is as much a victim of the so-called election syndicates:
Zubiri, however, said that he did not ask anyone for any favor regarding the elections. “Ang inyong lingkod ay lalabas ding biktima noong botohang naganap noong 2007 (I am also a victim of the 2007 elections),” he said.
Resigning from their posts is something that many public officials who were embroiled in controversies in other countries have been known to do. In Japan for example, they change Prime Ministers like they change shirts. If it’s dirty and needs washing, they need to go. A public official who is involved in an imbroglio or who does not deliver his duties must resign without even waiting for any calls for him to do so. He does this to save face and it is part of their culture. The people readily accept this practice as normal and will likely not raise an eyebrow over the next one.
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The point I wanted to make, however, has really nothing to do with all that discussion around people and events. Those are discussions best left to small minds and the sons and daughters of aging oligarchs.
What I really wanted to highlight here is the complete absence of anything to do with what these parties, these candidates, and these legislative elections are really all about. The hard questions are, as always, glossed over in favour of the wrong arguments and the irrelevant views of the mal-educated and ill-bred: What national issues are at stake? What is the legislative agenda being evaluated (this, if we recall, being a Senate election)? Where are the platforms of these candidates? Do these platforms even matter? Are these platforms used to keep track of the actual performance of a politician over the course of his term? And what’s up with these “political parties” and “coalitions”? What do they really mean? What principles do they stand for?
All I hear in the aftermath of the above questions is the sound of heads being scratched.
So yeah, you guessed it. The old familiar cry of Get Real Philippines! is back in the forefront of the cream of the elite Filipino minds who wield the only true and rare insight in the morass of online chatter that dominates this intellectually-bankrupt society.
If your politician does not have a platform and, if he does, does not make it the centrepiece of his campaign, then he or she is wasting your time.
Come on, let’s join us!
Claw your way out of the jolog pit and be counted as a true Get Realist and a true Filipino!
Be the voter the Republic of the Philippines truly deserves. Use your brain and think. If Filipinos want to be the proud people they insist they are, then this (and, for that matter, every election) is their chance to prove that they have earned that “pride” and that songs, dances, and adolescent dramas such as those exhibited by these children no longer matter.