Practically no one could have escaped noticing the overzealousness of many candidates running for public office in the 2022 elections. Long before the start of the campaign period in February, we were already inundated by the smiling faces of these candidates: plastered on tarpaulins prominently hung everywhere, or pushed into our social media accounts even without invitation. And when they went into face-to-face, meet-and-greet sorties, they profusely thanked the surprised public for their understanding and warm support.
How many were flabbergasted when a well-heeled tandem aspiring for the top offices of government snarled traffic on main avenues in the metropolis with their ill-coordinated motorcade or caravan. Radio commentators and observant citizens have raised these questions: Why werent such obviously staged gatherings (note that everyone in the crowds that met the motorcade wore the aspirants campaign shirts), which clearly violated social distancing and COVID-19 health protocols, questioned by the police and the civilian authorities?
Contrast that evident laxness in implementing protocols with the same authorities response when ordinary people gathered for legitimate protests: all sort of restrictions would be thrown their way and state forces swarm to bar or disperse them.
Then, there was the unusual rigor in checking on and barring certain partylist organizations from participating in the elections, contrasted with the amazing ease when it came to approving partylist groups linked to political dynasties, or allowing certain candidacies to be easily filed, withdrawn or replaced.
Now, consider the much-questioned candidacy of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Bongbong, son of the ousted tyrant), convicted tax evader and heir to billions of ill-gotten wealth. If the Comelec decides to uphold the law and judicial action, it can easily disqualify him from running by deeming Marcos Jr.s conviction of tax evasion as a crime of moral turpitude, wrote a retired Supreme court Justice. Moreover, when Marcos Jr. filed his certificate of candidacy, he lied, said a group of civic leaders who urged the Comelec in November to cancel his COC. He falsely declared under oath that he has not ever been found liable for any offense, which carries the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
Limits of Ph elections
Given the avalanche of disinformation and feel-good “news” churned out by the richest candidates trolls and campaigners, how alluring is it to fall into blind hope that the life of Filipinos would improve once the tandem of Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte emerges victorious in the May polls.
But what does the Marcos-Duterte tandem that supposedly continues to lead in the poll-preference surveys, in fact, represents? What unity does they flaunt to embody? Isnt the main political alliance backing the tandem composed of the political dynasties that already have held power and abused its use, heaping miseries and deprivations among the people, particularly the poor and marginalized?
With his flamboyant aging and ailing mother, Imelda, practically sidelined, Marcos Jr now leads his siblings in frustrating the peoples quest to fully recover their parents ill-gotten wealth and effacing their globally-exposed conjugal kleptocracy. Barefacedly, he also continues to deny gross human rights violations under his fathers 14-year fascist dictatorship – and peddles the illusion that the dictatorship raised the Philippines to a golden age in development.
Marcos Jr.s running for president also aims to fulfill Imeldas long-nurtured dream of returning to Malacanang in her lifetime.
Sara Duterte, on the other hand, is the ambitious daughter of the outgoing president. Rodrigo Duterte has notched global notoriety by his bloody dirty wars against illegal drug peddlers and users and against the Left revolutionary movement through his whole-of-nation approach to counterinsurgency. Her running for vice president (original target: the presidency) is intended to protect and advance their dynastys economic interests and political clout, and to shield her father from probable prosecution by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
The Philippines as a supposedly republican state held regular elections since 1947, until Marcos imposed martial rule in 1972 and disrupted the cycle. Regular elections every three years resumed in 1987, after the people ousted the dictatorship and the long-sidelined traditional politicians rushed in to contest for power again.
With no deep-going systemic reforms carried out after the Marcoses ouster, all these elections failed to respond positively to the peoples demands for meaningful change.
The electoral exercises have remained as mechanism for members of the ruling classes to settle among themselves not without incidences of violence — their fierce rivalries for power and wealth. For the political elite the government is merely a means for getting richer and wielding power for its sake; never for seriously serving the people. It has been exploited as a veneer of serving the people to justify increasing taxes, forcing payments of fraudulent and unfair debts, and sustained policies that have deterred the earnest development of our agriculture, natural resources and industries by and for the Filipinos, instead opening these up for further foreign imperialist exploitation.
Failure of each regime to resolve the age-old landlessness problem through genuine land reform, and the worsening problem of poverty and joblessness through industrialization, continue to stare us in the face. Little wonder that since 1969 when the Communist Party of the Philippines launched the new democratic revolution, its clear programs to advance these solutions to worsening underdevelopment have continued to gain public support.
However, all of the democratically elected administrations have tried their hardest to hinder land reform; instead they have enable bloody massacres, and under the current regime synchronized joint operations, to push landgrabbing schemes and various modes of reconcentrating land in the hands of big landlords.
Previous and current elected leaders have excelled at maintaining the Philippines indebted and tied down to underdevelopment by imperialist impositions. Towards the end of Dutertes term, not only is the Philippines buried deeper in P11-Trillion debt. New nails have been hammered into the coffin of land reform and food self-sufficiency in the form of liberalization of imports of rice, fish, meat and other agricultural products, and continued liberalization in the mining and other industries previously kept a bit safe from previous waves of imperialist globalization.
Thus, all the previous and current elected leaders are accountable to the people for the recurring and worsening crises in the economy. Far from stemming the crisis, they ride on it to impose new programs that only have worsened the burden on the people.
The conduct of the presidential race in the May elections hardly offers Filipinos assurance that they can vote into office a leader who will truly work for genuine improvements in their lives and firmly uphold democracy and national sovereignty. In the long-term perspective, they can only attain their long-held democratic aspirations by embracing and continually strengthening the new democratic revolution. ###