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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Noynoy Aquino’s legacy of patronage politics weakened Philippine democratic institutions

January 5, 2016
by Ilda
The upcoming Presidential Elections in the Philippines is getting a lot of Filipinos excited. They are excited because, one, the incumbent President Benigno Simeon Aquino is finally stepping down. That means the people will no longer have to put up with idiotic motherhood statements in Presidential speeches and press releases. The people have had enough hearing the President mention his late father and mother and their so-called “sacrifices” that arguably only amounted to the deterioration of Philippine society’s values. More importantly, with the departure of BS Aquino, there will be, cross your fingers, less blame-game and more pro-active governance in the years ahead.
President BS Aquino: Saying that 'Daang Matuwid' would propel the country to First World status was delusional.
President BS Aquino: Saying that ‘Daang Matuwid’ would propel the country to First World status was delusional.
Second, the election is giving Filipinos another opportunity to vote for a new leader who can give them hope – hope for a better future, I suppose. I know, it sounds like a title for a Star Wars film but BS Aquino’s stint in Malacanang has indeed forced some people to “awaken” from their stupor. Just how many are going to use the power of their mind to help them decide who the best candidate to vote for is anyone’s guess. If the past is any indication, some voters will go for whoever is popular in the surveys; some will accept bribes or sell their votes to anyone willing to give them loose change and then there are also some who will simply vote for whoever their religious leader will dictate for them to write on the ballot paper. There’s no hope for them, unfortunately.
The behavior of the majority of Filipino voters is what they often refer to as the tyranny of the majority. Since Filipinos are generally emotional people, instead of using reason, they easily become enamored or are gullible to the sweet talk or emotional blackmail individuals running for public office use on them. The few who use their critical analysis faculties are helpless against the majority’s irrational behavior and have no choice but to live with the consequence of the majority’s decisions.
Yes, the problem in the Philippines has less to do with the tyranny of the few but more to do with the tyranny of the majority – those who give power to the few members of the elite or oligarchy. Like what was said before, democracy only works when the majority voters are informed and educated on the current issues that affect their lives and their future. That is not the case in the Philippines. A lot of Filipinos either choose to ignore the problems or simply believe the misinformation being fed to them by the same public servants who dupe them over and over again.
In the Philippines, there is this belief that only the “corrupt” politicians are to blame for the current state of the nation. Most Filipinos do not realize that they actually need to monitor how their politicians do their jobs and call out their bad behavior. The lack of outrage from the public is the reason why politicians get away with their incompetence and criminal activities.
In other societies, BS Aquino and his cabinet secretaries, whose decisions and incompetence in the past have resulted in mismanagement of billions of pesos of public funds and deaths of thousands of people, would have at least been ousted if not jailed or hanged. But since the majority of the Filipino people are still beholden to the Aquino name, the President and his allies are still enjoying their stay in power as if they had done nothing wrong during their entire term in office. BS Aquino even had the audacity to say in his recent speech that his “Daang Matuwid” or straight path policy is what will propel the Philippines from Third World to First.
That kind of talk – something that sounds like it came out of his behind – is what the gullible crowds fall for and fail to question. Never mind that Daang Matuwid hasn’t resulted in anything significant. BS Aquino’s straight path policy does not include strengthening institutions and reforming old policies that hold things back from moving forward. A lot of his policies made things worse for Filipinos.
Voters should turn their back on vacuous ideologies.
Voters should turn their back on vacuous ideologies.
As a matter of fact, BS Aquino’s anything goes policy weakened the country’s institutions especially when he trampled on the rights of his political enemies. His patronage politics was the reason the condition of public facilities and services like the train system went from bad to worse. There were times when only five trains were operational due to insufficient maintenance. Patronage politics is also to blame for the Manila International Airport getting a bad rap due to much-pubicized scams involving airport personnel victimizing travellers. Despite all these fiascoes, no one has been sacked or prosecuted among his allies in his cabinet.
BS Aquino may be stepping down from the Presidency but the situation in the Philippines could remain the same since most of the candidates are still allied with the incumbent. Senator and aspiring President Grace Poe has always said that she considers BS Aquino a friend. He gave her the opportunity to enter Philippine politics as chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in 2010 even when she was still a US citizen. Vice President and Presidential Candidate Jejomar Binay is practically part of the Aquino family even as Binay is persecuted by BS Aquino’s own Liberal Party. Binay is still indebted to the Aquinos because the late former President Cory Aquino paved the way for the Binays to rule Makati City for three decades.
Even Davao City Mayor and another Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte is said to be indebted to the Aquino family. It was said that it was also Cory who appointed Duterte as OIC mayor of Davao City in 1986 and paved the way for the Duterte dynasty in Davao. That could explain why we hardly hear Duterte say “Putang ina mo Noynoy!” despite his displeasure at the way the current government is being run.
So, even if BS Aquino’s official ally Presidential candidate Mar Roxas doesn’t win, the President seems to be in good hands if ever one of the other popular Presidential candidates mentioned wins the Presidency. Such is the power of the “dark side”. The Filipino people can only watch as the members of the oligarchy take turns sitting on the main chair in Malacanang.
The only way to change the way these politicians behave is for people to demand more from them and make them realize that the Presidency is not an entitlement but a privilege – a privilege to serve the people. Now that’s something Filipinos should be excited about.


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