Carvajal: Exercise in futility

·2 min read

Early campaigning noise is reaching fevered pitch. Presidential wannabees are sounding out voters for their preferences and leanings. They have to spend so much they want some kind of an assurance they can win and recover their investment.

As I have said in another column, I can’t believe candidates will spend billions because of an overflowing desire to serve the Filipino people. They spend that much, at the risk of losing their souls, because the expected returns in wealth, power and privilege are worth it.

Then you have radio-TV commentators vying with professional political analysts in noisily gauging the candidates’ chances of a win. For some it is their sincere attempt to help people vote wisely. For others it is to make a case for their possible work as a paid propagandist of a particular candidate.

Yet in the end, whoever wins will not be able to deliver on his/her promises primarily because his/her hands will be tied by the same elitist (non-participative) political system, by the same exclusive economic system, and by the same colonial cultural system that have traditionally combined to marginalize the vulnerable sector of the voiceless and powerless.

He/she will not be able to deliver because the promises were intended merely to sweet talk people into voting for him/her. If he/she happens to be sincere about his/her promises, he/she will still not be able to deliver on them for two reasons, one political and another cultural.

The political reason is the losing party. This will be running interference even before the incumbent can warm his/her seat in office. This will nitpick and throw everything including the kitchen sink at the incumbent’s person and programs to convince voters they made a bad choice and should put the opposition back in power in the next elections.

The cultural reasons are two-fold. One, the winning President will prioritize repaying his/her financiers with favorable policies and contracts and/or with appointments to juicy government positions of the financiers’ recommendees, qualified or not.

Two, the hangers-on, lesser personalities who sacrificed time and effort to help the candidate win, will expect to be rewarded with choice lower but still money-making posts. The elected might be honest but not his/her hangers-on who joined the campaign solely for the loot.

Thus, in the end people are left out in the cold as utang na loob prioritizes the payment of election debts.

Conclusion: Until a system is in place that enables Filipinos to elect the socio-moral principles of genuine political parties and not the honeyed promises of individuals, until money is taken out of the equation, our elections will continue to be an exercise in futility.

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