Written Feb. 11, 2007
For the Standard Today,
February 13, 2007 issue
A European journalist, who probably personified the bewilderment of other foreigners at this country’s politics, emailed me last week: “How is it possible that Nur Misuari and Gregorio Honasan are allowed to run for governor and senator, respectively, even though they are accused of (serious) crimes? I would like to quote you on this.”
My reply: “This is the Philippines where American-style liberalism has created an Idiot Nation that can no longer tell the difference between right and wrong.
“You were not here when a congressman (Romeo Jalosjos of Zamboanga del Norte) was accused, tried and convicted of statutory rape of an 11-year old girl, yet was allowed to run for re-election from his jail cell, and actually won!”
The European’s concern can be expanded to include Navy Lt. s/g Antonio Trillanes, who has also filed his candidacy to run for the Senate despite the fact that he is also accused of a serious crime: mutiny, for his leadership of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny. Although he said he was going to run as an independent, like his mentor and kuya Gringo Honasan, he is now part of the senatorial slate of the United Opposition, while Honasan is not.
We have here a microcosm of the idiocy of the Philippine electoral system. Strictly speaking, Misuari, Honasan and Trillanes cannot be considered Idiot Candidates since they are all intelligent and articulate on what they want to achieve – unlike the totally clueless Pacquiao and the deliberately uncommunicative FPJ, who depends/depended entirely on their popularity with the squealing masa.
But the fact that the Comelec accepted and approved their candidacies at all reveals a yawning moral gap that the Idiot Comelec is not capable of bridging. Aside from not knowing how to count properly, the Idiot Comelec saw and sees no moral contradiction in allowing these unrepentant putschists to run for high public offices in a state that all three of them had tried to violently overthrow. In the case of Honasan, not once, but several times.
I have not read the charter of the Comelec, but I am sure there are paragraphs in it that empower the Comelec to disapprove the candidacies of individuals whom it judges to be morally unfit to assume the positions that they aspire for.
Yet it allowed the convicted rapist Jalosjos to run for re-election from his jail cell. And it allows three unrepentant putschists to run for even higher offices, even though there are court cases pending against them for the very serious crimes – much more serious than statutory rape - of rebellion, mutiny and coups d’etat. Onli in da istupid Pilipins.
By the twisted liberalism of the Idiot Comelec, there would be no legal or constitutional impediment, only his basic unwinnability, that can stop Jose Maria Stalin, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines – or Satur Ocampo, the most senior of the comrades - from filing his candidacy for president in 2010, despite his efforts since 1966 to overthrow the Philippine state.
This travesty of the democratic privilege of suffrage would not be allowed and would not have been allowed in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or Suharto’s Indonesia, even though – or is it because - their immersion in, or exposure to, American-style liberal democratic traditions has been much shorter than ours.
Not only do we have an Idiot Comelec that does not know how to count votes properly and is not capable of making sound moral judgments on the moral fitness of indicted and convicted individuals to run for high public offices, we also have masses of Idiot Voters who also can no longer tell right from wrong.
The electoral victory of convicted rapist Jalosjos is eloquent proof of this. The fact that several million Idiot Voters will vote for Misuari, Honasan and Trillanes, even if none of the three is likely to win, adds to the growing perception that we are truly an Idiot Nation on whom the blessings of American-style liberal democracy have been spectacularly wasted.
There should be moral safeguards to exclude convicted and indicted felons from our electoral system, no matter how popular they may be with the squealing masa. I will go into possible details in a future column.
I had at first favored the abolition of the Senate through a constitutional convention. But after watching the shameless maneuver of Speaker Jose de Venecia and his trapos in the House to exclude the Senate from their lutong-makaw constitutent assembly, I am now in favor of retaining the Senate, but the members should be elected on a regional, not national, basis. Two for each of the 17 regions plus the National Capital Region and the ARMM.
This makes certain that all regions are adequately represented in the Senate. I recall an instance several years ago when the Senate had three senators from Bicol (Tatad, Arroyo and Honasan) but zero from Muslim Mindanao.
The senatorial line-ups of both the administration and opposition coalitions for the 2007 elections reflect the political class’ dismissive attitude towards the Muslims. The administration line-up does not have a Muslim. The opposition has a blank space reserved for a Muslim, but he/she is likely to be a relative nobody who will not win enough national votes to earn a senatorial seat.
However, if senatorial elections were by region, the Muslims would be represented by at least two or three senators, from the regions where they predominate. The situation in the Middle East is coming to a boil in the next few weeks and months as the US and Israel prepare to attack Iran . That means Islamic militancy worldwide will likely explode to new, even bloodier levels of violence than we have ever seen. The systemic absence of Muslim representation in the Senate shows the lack of sensitivity and foresight on the part of the framers of the present Constitution
Regional election of senators would also help correct the infirmity that former senator Kit Tatad pointed out so eloquently: the degeneration of the Senate into a Family Club. With the senators elected by region, it is unlikely that Northern Mindanao , for example, would ever be represented by a father-and-son team, like a feudal enclave. Or the over-represented National Capital Region by a cute brother-and-sister act, like an entry into an amateur song-and-dance contest Or the feudal Central Luzon by a nephew-auntie duo in opposite camps, like an episode in the 80s TV show “Family Feud.”
Former President Joseph Estrada is to be congratulated, at least, for prevailing on his son JV to desist from joining the senatorial race, and his wife, Sen. Loi from seeking re-election. Erap has shown more class than the Pimentels, the Cayetanos and the Aquinos..
My column last week titled Idiot Candidates drew a flood of reactions from readers, most of them agreeing with my call for a) qualifying exams for all candidates, so that we can exclude the stupid and the ignorant from our politics, no matter how popular they may be with the squealing masa.
I invite everyone’s reaction to my two other proposals: b) moral safeguards against indicted and convicted individuals seeking public office; and c) regional election of senators. We have to speak out to prove, if only to ourselves, that we are not an Idiot Nation.****