GRAVE DYSFUNCTIONS IN OUR ELECTIONS IN 2016

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GRAVE DYSFUNCTIONS IN OUR ELECTIONS IN 2016

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boholano-thumbLeading Candidates. Let us name our leading candidates for President and Vice-President in the elections on May 9, 2015. The presidential candidates presented their “political platform” when they announced their candidacy in the company of their political party or alliance leaders. This was reported in the media. They have been campaigning around the country before the campaign period announced by the Commission on Elections.

Former Senator and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is the Liberal Party candidate for President. Representative Leni Gerona Robredo is his running mate for Vice-President.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay is the United Nationalist Alliance candidate for President. Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan is his running mate for Vice-President.

Senator Grace Poe (Llamanzares) is a candidate for President and Representative Chiz Escudero is her running mate for Vice-President. They claim that their Party is “the Filipino people.” Poe’s status as a “natural born” Philippine citizen and her required residency in the country are being legally challenged.

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Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is a candidate for President and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is her running mate for Vice-President. They chose to run together without naming their political party or alliance.

Grave Dysfunctions. Let us now enumerate the grave dysfunctions in the campaign for the  election in 2016.

Too many aspirants or ”would be” candidates. 130 for President (99 in 2010). 19 for Vice-President (20 in 2010). 172 for Senator  (158 in 2010).

The Commission on Elections is determining who are the “nuisance candidates” who should be disqualified. In 2010 the Comelec determined 99 “nuisance candidates” for President, 12 for Vice-President, 97 for Senator.

Having too many candidates for the highest offices in our government makes us very odd, and even ridiculous, unbelievable, and absurd to people in truly democratic nations.

More similar than distinctive “political platforms.” The “political platforms” and campaign promises of the various presidential candidates, political parties, or national alliances have some common elements and different ones.

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This may reflect their greater emphasis on their personal story, their personal popularity, their celebrity status, their ethnic and geographic identities, their win-ability in the political surveys, and their dependence on their campaign funding. As in the past some  vote buying will be made in the elections next year. Our elections are usually marred by some cheating and violence.

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Many “family dynasty” candidates. As in the past, most of the serious national and local candidates belong to “family dynasties.” Commonly, they are understood as husband and wife and children and others related by blood or marriage who run for and are elected and reelected to local and/or national public office. In this sense, various studies identify that as many as 75 to 80 percent of popularly elected leaders belong “family dynasties.”

No political commitment to pass a law prohibiting the constitutional prohibition of a political dynasty. There being no law passed to determine the precise meaning and extent of family dynasties prohibited by the 1987 Constitution, the Government cannot prosecute the traditional offenders. No President has seriously sought to initiate and pass such implementing law. No presidential candidate, political party, or alliance is publicly campaigning to do so.

Turncoatism. Many incumbent elected leaders and candidates have changed political parties for their personal political convenience. They often do so to join the party of the newly elected President in order to belong to the new party in power and enjoy his political patronage. Some form new political parties or alliances to appear to have a serious political following or geographic political base or bailiwick.

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Many “Guest candidates” of political parties or “political alliances.” Various political parties have invited and accepted known political leaders as candidates of their political party or political alliance. Some senatorial candidates are glad to be guest party or alliance candidates. This is the first time this political maneuver or trickery is being done so widely, showing the shiftiness and treachery of our politics.

Party-less candidates. Initially, Grace Poe and Cris Escudero, said that they did not belong to any political party, and they formed “the party of the people” not accredited as such by the Commission on Elections.

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A major breakthrough in the struggle against common corruption is worth noting. Priority Development Assistance Program (PDAF) or the Pork Barrel system has finally been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. With the help of courageous whistle blowers, the Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman, some senators have been charged with plunder and detained by the Sandigambayan. Many more legislators and other officials are facing plunder charges.

All the candidates for national offices avoid promises and commitments to change or reform our political institutions to strengthen our democracy—by amending our 1987 Constitution.

Specific examples of these reforms are:

(1) extending local government leaders’ tenure from three to four or five years;

(2) changing our political party system;

(3) abolishing the party-list representatives;

(4) electing our senators by regions;

(5) changing our Presidential Government to a Parliamentary Government;

(6) changing our highly centralized Unitary System to one that has greater regional and local governments. The latter could be the transition to a future Federal Republic.

Ideal vision but dysfunctional political institutions. Our ideal vision in our 1987 Constitution is: “to build a just and humane society” and “a democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace.”

After the EDSA Revolt in 1986 the basic defect or weakness of our kind of democracy is that we restored the old, obsolete, and dysfunctional institutions of Presidential Government with its separation of powers and paralysis in governance; and the highly centralized Unitary System under the National Government based in “Imperial Manila” and its local agencies.

Congress must pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to transform the failed Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao into a genuine autonomous region that can be the basis of our future Federal Republic of the Philippines. (By Jose “Pepe” Abueva)

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