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The Road to Political Maturity

Philippine Setting

The Philippines is entering into another stage of political maturity. The Daang Matuwid centerpiece campaign of the President finally paved a new role for every political unit and that it has caused unrest among government bureaucracies in deference to the Presidents thrust and political reform agenda. Political maturity has long been elusive in the Philippine political arena and as such ordinary people seem to be no longer caring as to what political belief and aspiration a candidate for public service may espouse. What the voter is looking into

is the short range gratuity of his mental mindset for the spur of the moment. Blame it to poverty and the lack of basic functional education, so the traditional politician may whimsically and capriciously use as convenient excuse. But on some deeper thoughts, politics and morality seems to be two contradicting planes that would never co-exist, at least in the Philippine setting.

The moral fiber of Philippine education is supposed to uphold the strict standards of morality and impressed upon the young learners the need to observe and practice such standards and the rest will just follow. The clash between formal schooling standards and street-smart knowledge created and alienated another group of believers of hybrid morality akin to the practice of a new politician. Morality involves patience, sacrifice and strict adherence to the standards it calls for as opposed to the belief for instant gratification and temporary or short term stop gap measures.

The very act of veering away from the standards become occasions to commit graft and corrupt acts. One should always remember that patience is a virtue of a gentleman and a statesman. Patience espouses humility and peace of mind giving one enough time to reflect as what is good from what is destructive.

Few political aspirants are devoid of any traces of values or its semblance, reason why they fail to measure up to the requirements of moral standards. Absence of value is synonymous to having no ethics to start with according to Raphael Gomez on his book on Whats Right and Wrong in Business.

In the Philippines, it pays well to be abreast with the political set ups and maneuvers so that one can make its informed judgment and guided decisions. The country is blessed to be given the press freedom the freedom to express ones self without any restraint on the part of the subject and the public in general.

Bits and pieces, to the best of my knowledge, I will discuss in the foregoing pages the salient part of the Philippine politics. The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people, and all government authority emanates from them thus Article two (section 1) of the 1987 revised constitution reads. This passage covers the power that every Filipino enjoys providing for the authority upon its government. By and large, the civilian authority is supreme over that of the military. The government derives it authority from the people who in turn gives the

government every right to exist. This happens by way of people exercise their right of suffrage. Every Filipino citizen upon reaching the age of eighteen (18) possess in itself the right of suffrage and wields the power to elect freely any government official or public servant without any terms and conditions or restrictions.

The right to suffrage is a basic right embodied in the constitution and anchors upon it the symbol of freedom on every electorate. Elections are held periodically to determine who are qualified to serve the people. To be elected to public service, a candidate must possess the basic constitutional requirement, foremost of which is the citizenship of being a naturally born Filipino citizen and the fulfillment of the required residency. An election for the president is held every six years, while that of the senators is also every six years, and every three years for the representatives or the congressmen. The rest of the local

executives and lawmakers making up elected officials for the provinces, cities and municipalities are likewise held every three years. Only the positions of the national and local executives and lawmakers are chosen through the process of a scheduled election. Some positions are appointed by the president such as the members of the Supreme Court and other courts, the heads of the constitutional commissions, and the members of the cabinet that assists the president in the execution of its programs. The civil service law serves as the governing policy of every civil servant.

In the Philippines, the Republic of the Philippines is the biggest employer. A big chunk of the annual government budget is allocated for manpower cost. This means that the wheels of the government and its bureaucracies are dependent upon the reliability of the people it employs.

Considering that public service consists of elected and appointed officials, we as a people are burdened with the role of selecting the best people qualified to govern us. As such we demand nothing but the best from these people whom we have helped catapulted to power to serve us, defend and protect our rights.

Awkwardly, the power of purse is wielded by the elected solons or legislators and stamped as either approved or vetoed by the president. The power of purse is vested upon the lawmakers as an act to allocate the annual budget of the government. This act is one of the

most colorful deliberations in both chambers of congress consisting of the upper chamber or the senate, and the lower chamber consisting of the house of the representatives. The people we elect are the ones who will make the budget for themselves by way of priority development assistance or countrywide development fund.

Political dynasty is a term given to a group of politicians purportedly coming from the same family and has been on the same or different positions at a time or one after another.

By and large, political dynasties exist because people dont want to give up seats in government. When an incumbent official reaches the term limit of three successive and consecutive terms in public service as required by the constitution, he momentarily run for another position to give an impasse of one term and eventually returns to the same post after breaking the term limits. In the meantime, a relative or the anointed one is made to seek election for the vacated office to make sure that the position is preserved either within the family or hand it over to the graduated official.

Other than the motive of preserving the position to the nearest kin or family member, political dynasty is also formed to trap a bigger chunk of budget coming from the government by way of priority development assistance fund (PDAF), a.k.a pork barrel, internal revenue allotment or IRA, and other funding sources. PDAF is a congressional initiative aimed at providing financial assistance to specific government projects identified by the respective congressman.

Problems and issues involved in the administration and management of PDAF involves controversies such as alleged kickbacks on government projects as exposed by the World Bank to have been rampant during the past administrations, funding of ghost projects, phantom NGOs and recipients in which the fund eventually ends up in the personal accounts of the politicians.

Vote buying and vote rigging are two synonymous transactions comes election time. Politicians and electorates are both guilty of this

practice as the former raises fund all the time while he is in power in order to buy votes for him to stay in power, while the latter is perceived to yield his vote to the candidate who can give him the highest financial equivalent for his vote or that of his group or influence. In the same manner, the local executive is expected to wield power within his constituents in such as way that he trades his groups vote for financial amount, political accommodations or political appointments when the former goes back to power or retains his post.

In the Philippine election, a candidate never gets defeated. His convenient excuse in bowing out of race is that he is cheated. Accepting defeat or conceding to opponents is never in the vocabulary of Philippine political aspirants.

Guns, gold, and goons are three most common 3G political tools to surely win in a hotly contested electoral position in the countryside. A politician or his supported either kills the opponent or

use gun for hire to silent the opponent. Gold make sure the fund is enough to run the election machinery from buying of votes during and after election process to buying the election personnel up to the courts, and goons to warn the opponents of the possible winning the war before any actual fighting can take place. The Philippine political and electoral system is one of those marred with corruptions, tainted with scandals and bribery. In the past, elections in the Philippines are being closely monitored by the members of the international media as these become sources of

international news that can make head-turning headlines. The brand of leadership defines the color of political landscape in the country. During the last election, President Noy permeated into the Philippine politics as a neophyte despite of his origin from the two giant political figure in the history of freedom worldwide, that of his father Senator Ninoy whose wit and political ideas became a global standard, and that of her mother President Cory whose people power became a world phenomenon.

The Daang Matuwid campaign became an instant hit during the election fever outperforming any other well funded election

machinery and reducing his opponents to just mere second rate choices. The daang matuwid proved to be a sustainable feat laden with political will that was able to reshaped the graft-ridden judiciary by impeaching the chief justice through a nationwide televised processed that exposed so many shocking revelations, changing the guards at the ombudsman, and stopping the former president from

conveniently escaping political misdeeds in the country and reducing her to a mere political housefly, tamed and controlled. Daang matuwid campaign becomes an epitome of moral standards in civil service that even changed the ways of previously tagged as corrupt agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureaus of Customs, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the list goes on.

Political system was instituted to help people enjoy life and provides for the freedom to enjoy the basic needs of life. Ergo, the political system became an indispensable part of society that people needs. In much developed countries, the level of political system provides order in the society and protects the rights of every citizen.

In the Philippines, people become sick and nauseated with the word politics because of its connotations. Moral order and values

became distorted when politicians gone overboard just for their personal enrichment. Business and politics when combined together become potent cause of misery to every individual when mismanaged to favor only one side. Every political dynasty members have gone to the best schools in the world only to gain the best education and use the best diploma to lure voters of the brand of leadership that they will suppose to bring when elected to power.

The problem lies in the conflict of interest, the interest between serving the public and the interest on personal enrichment. This is when the values are distorted and reasons to justify their distorted values are made to be followed that later on haunts everybody.