Today’s View: Post-election prattle and cackle

May. 15, 2013

And, here is an incontrovertible truth:  All elections in a society under a state of massive poverty is never a democratic process.  It is a vicious illusion, a disgusting insult and a vile assault to human dignity.

Davao Today

Immediately after the election day, we are entertained with lots of  comments  and opinions, ranging from assessments of the conduct of  the elections itself to theorizings on the victory or defeat of  certain candidates in the electoral contest.

Political analysts readily come up with all sorts of observations on what they think are the shortcomings of the electoral exercise.  Some perceive the chaotic occurrences in certain places as suggestive of the elections’ lack of credibility or failure.  Chairman Sixto Brillantes of the Commission on Elections reasons out that the glitches in the precinct count optical scan machines are an insignificant incidence of the imperfections of any undertaking and do not at all discredit the elections as a credible and successful affair.

What entertains us, however, are these observers’ insights into why this and that candidate is able, or not able, to make it to the Magic 12.

One probing commentary, for instance, advances the idea that the phenomenal achievement of Ms. Grace Poe as the “topmost vote-getter” among the senatorial bets is an obvious act of vindication by the electorate of her father’s loss in the infamous 2004 elections.  After all, she was always wearing the icon-bearing badge of her father during the campaigns.

In support of this notion of vindication is supposedly the rationale for Legarda’s and Escudero’s respective positions as Number 2 and Number 3 in the senatorial ranking as per early count.  Legarda was the running mate and Escudero the campaign manager of FPJ in that fraud-ridden 2004 presidential race.

Well, the notion seems to hold credence.

And there emerges another yet interesting observation.  Chiz Escudero was not endorsed by the Iglesia ni Cristo!  Therefore, his laurels arise from his own meritorious and unstinted touch with the electorate, and not by any act of charity or blessing from any religious sect.  And the question crops up:  Could he have garnered Grace Poe’s position if he were endorsed by the INC?

Another subject of analytic commentary is Jack Enrile’s poor showing  after all the propaganda hype in the broadcast media.  One political analyst says, “Ah, there was lack of clear messaging in his ads; the sing and dance gimmick just didn’t turn the showbiz delight into votes.”

And one TV-anchor asks, “Was Angara’s good looks any factor at all in his splendid climb to the Top 6?”  There is more than one opinion to his success.  His change of dress as a tactic could have helped, also his decision to zero-in on “libreng edukasyon” in his ads message.   Another plus-factor was his ubiquitous visibility during the campaigns.

And Bam Aquino, the observers note, was also a hardworking bet in the campaign — always present in all the debate forums to deliver his views on the various issues.  And he took the campaigns very seriously, making himself available and visible always in the campaign sorties across the country.

What about Nancy Binay’s feat?  Oh, there  was no doubt about the influence or stigma of the name of a political family, such as that enjoyed by Nancy Binay  —  she who,  among the senatoriables, never attended forum debates as an opportunity to air her views on issues or perhaps to present her program of  action!   She who had not had a minute of experience as a public servant!

But lo and behold how she has held on tenaciously to that rank of  Number 5 in the Magic 12!  One analyst daringly opined that her candidacy was part of  her father’s scheme — purportedly as a kind of  “weather vane”  for his presidential aspiration in the 2016 elections.

And Risa Hontiveros?  What happened to her?  Didn’t the sing-dance-and-scarf-flicking technique click at all?  Her ads message, one observes, was a little too diffused, it failed to deliver a specific thrust on the voter’s consciousness.  She should have stuck to her women advocacy stance rather than bank on a vague anti- corruption ads message.

Yes, all these post-election theorizing and analyzing are fodders for the curiosity and entertainment of the citizenry who stake so much faith and hope in the elections Philippine-style.

But all these discussions and discourses are mere prattle and cackle.  They never touch on the essential character of the Philippine electoral system.  They simply miss the fundamentals.

Philippine election is a hopeless farcical exercise.  It is vociferously touted as a democratic process.  But it is in fact a mockery of democracy!

Since time immemorial we have been made to believe that this so-called universal election is a signature trademark of a democracy.  That this universal right of suffrage guarantees an absolute freedom of choice by the citizens.

In the Philippine context, however, this supposedly democratic principle insures an absolute lack of choice.  All the electoral candidates either belong to the same ruling class in the society, or are the representatives and mouthpieces of this ruling class.

Where the teeming millions of the population are in abject poverty, they are not capable of informed and intelligent choice.  They have no access to vital information and are incapable of participating in intelligent discussions of social issues and concerns.  They have no knowledge of the historical roots and fundamental causes of these social issues and concerns.

Massive poverty deprives the great majority of the means and opportunities for education which could have afforded them ample knowledge and information to participate in discourses that affect their very lives.  Being thus deprived, they are very vulnerable to the devious schemes of the politicians.

For instance, do the toiling masses, the urban poor residents, the farmers and fisherfolk in the countryside, the indigenous peoples and other impoverished sectors have knowledge of the basic provisions of the Philippine Constitution?  Do they know about how the Revolution of 1896 was won?  And how and why it soon got lost?  Or why we became a colony of the Americans after having won the revolution against the Spaniards?

Do they know why the educated Filipinos  are very fluent in English but are inarticulate in their own native language?  Are they able to pick up the discussions of issues in the broadcast media usually conducted in English?  Are they able to read newspapers, books and magazines that contain valuable information about the actuations of our officials in government?  Can they understand what our legislators are talking about in the halls of Congress?  Do they have the resources to know the background information  of the people who vie for elective national posts?

If not, then why should they be shepherded to cast their uninformed and unintelligent votes?

If they do not know these fundamentals, how can they be able to vote wisely?  And much worse — suffering as they are in misery and poverty, can they resist the enticement of politicians to sell their votes?  Can they protect themselves from the harassment and other violent machinations of politicos?

The ruling classes in our society, sitting pretty in mansions in stark contrast  to the  squalor of the poor  majority,  are gloating over the idea that the masses of our people have been brainwashed to believe they are exercising a fundamental democratic principle  by the “right to vote.”  And the clever and educated sectors of our society, their unwitting collaborators in the grand deception, constantly babble from rote memory deceitful descriptions of elections in the following phrases:

This is democracy in its very essence!
The people have manifested their free will!
They have freely chosen their leaders!

Democracy for a single day?  And during the rest of the days of the years before and after the election day, what they endure are day-to-day scourges of poverty? The demolition of their homes?  The unreachable high and rising prices?  The very low “dying” wages?”  The violations of their human rights?  The deprivation of their right to education?  Among all others?

This is what they call the essence of democracy?

You have a day of an illusion of empowerment?  And a lifetime of misery?  Is that the very ideal of a democracy?  OMG!  This works for the eternal blessing of the ruling classes and their politicos!  In fact, the ruling classes don’t ever want to solve and eliminate poverty!  It is to their infinite advantage and benefit that the great many who are poor will remain poor!

In their hearts they would proclaim, “Let poverty stay forever, and we will rule forever!”

The Cojuangcos, the Marcoses, the Macapagals, the Roxases, the Osmeñas, the Singsons,  Estradas,  Binays, Enriles, and all the other political families and dynasties in this god-forsaken country. . .do they want to eliminate poverty?  Whom would they fool during election day?  Whom would they buy votes from?  What would they be promising the poor masses about if there were no more poverty as an issue for the consumption of the electorate?

All these sloganeering about eliminating  poverty is an obnoxious “broken record” that is being played time after time after time as the favorite top-tune of politicians ever since the beginning of this Republic.

And, here is an incontrovertible truth:  All elections in a society under a state of massive poverty is never a democratic process.  It is a vicious illusion, a disgusting insult and a vile assault to human dignity.

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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