Carvajal: The haze thickens

Orlando P. Carvajal

AN OMINOUS sign the worst is still to come for marginalized folks (majority of the population) is House Bill 6095. Now approved on second reading, this bill that legislators managed to sneak in edgewise, when people were too busy fighting Covid-19, ups the legal limit for election campaign expenses of Presidential, Vice-Presidential, and Senatorial candidates to P50 per voter, five times the current rate, and of local candidates to P30 per voter, 10 times the current rate.

Instead of truing our democracy, the House is instead further degrading what little democracy is left. Elected positions in government will become even more the exclusive hunting grounds of members of the Big Boys...and yes, Girls Club. The marginalized sector’s voice in government will slide down closer to zero. Voiceless, its members will continue to scamper for crumbs from the tables of their political patrons.

Because billions will be required to win crucial elected positions, winners will work to recover the investment of their financiers with laws that protect or promote the latter’s interests. That translates into more graft and corruption as winning candidates more easily succumb to the temptation to make easy, illegal money while in office, first to recover their own expenses and second, to fund their re-election or the election of their relatives, there being no law against political dynasties.

Genuine democracies of more politically developed countries guarantee proportionate representation in government of all social sectors by a system that allows only accredited political parties to run for office, and not individuals. In this system, people vote for a party’s social philosophy and program of government not, as in our country, for the promises, whims, and fancies of individuals.

Accredited parties are public institutions entitled to a budget from government for member education and election campaign expenses. The system promotes the formation by workers and farmers of an accredited party that will carry their voice in government. Parties of the rich will still have a financial edge but at least in this system all sectors have base funds to run election campaigns.

Elections are already the exclusive playground of millionaires. With this bill, these become exclusive for billionaires. Instead of working for genuine free and fair elections, our leaders are instead making elections more of a venue for the auction of the poor’s votes to the highest bidder, thus mocking democracy even more.

This is the handiwork of un-exorcized demons. The haze thickens as the country continues to be ruled by people with money in their pockets but with what appears to be sawdust in between the ears.