When Will We Ever Learn?
After six years of the Duterte administration, described by many political pundits as mired in corruption, lack of respect for human rights and thousands of indiscriminate killings of drug users, the Filipinos elected Bongbong Marcos, the son of a dictator, as the next president of the Philippines.
I am not positively sure if all those who voted for Bongbong knew who or what they were voting for. All I know was that the social media, which played a crucial role in disseminating information, were full of fake news that could have influenced the electorate’s decision-making process.
I am not one of the supposedly 31 million people who supported Bongbong during the last election. I believe that he is not honest and he has some explaining to do with the many skeletons in his closet.
However, in fairness to Bongbong, I am willing to give him the opportunity to prove me wrong. At the end of the day, I hope he convinces me that he is not like his father, and he is better than his father in many ways. I hope he succeeds because his success is the nation’s success.
Election is always a time for change and reflection. The last May 9 election was no different. The people wanted a new crop of politicians in government. But, overall, it did not happen.
I still cannot believe that Robin Padilla (nothing personal against Robin) is now a senator and Chel Diokno is not. And, if I may add, I cannot believe that Luigi Villafuerte, a political neophyte belonging to the Villafuerte clan and with no experience in governmental matters, was elected the next governor of Camarines Sur, succeeding his brother Migz, who is now a congressman. Their father is also a congressman in another district.
That’s the problem. That’s our problem.
There are some realities in Philippine politics that are etched in the psyche of the Filipino voters. Foremost among them is personality-based politics, the kind of politics that is about personality and not about policies or programs.
People tend to vote for the famous solely because of their popularity and media exposure. This is the reason why actors Robin Padilla, Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, and Jinggoy Estrada are senators and not Chel Diokno, Leila de Lima or Alex Lacson.
There is also the case of family dynasties. The recent election has shown that family dynasties are stronger than ever. For many years now, politicians with strong name recognition have entrenched themselves in politics, and it continues to baffle me why the people keep on electing them despite their despicable records. The few exceptions are in the minority.
In many of the country’s provinces, family dynasties that have secured elective positions from the legislature to the governorship down to the local levels include the following familiar names: Marcos, Duterte, Garcia, Remulla, Villafuerte, Cayetano, Gatchalian, Romualdez, Estrada, and Zubiri, to mention a few.
The same families that have been in politics for decades are either back or continue to consolidate their forces in their areas of influence. They control the government machineries in their respective provinces from the mayors to the barangay captains to the allocations of pork barrel funds.
While political dynasties are not allowed by the 1987 Philippine Constitution, nothing has been done by congress to pass a law that will prohibit political dynasties. Congress will not do it because it has always been monopolized or controlled by members of political dynasties.
That the next president is another Marcos and the new vice president is a Duterte only prove that we have not really learned our lesson.
When will we ever learn?