What went wrong in the Philippines electoral system.? Among others, clearly the aspirants have no fear of the Commission on Elections. Almost all its guidelines not being followed by candidates. Just look around and see all those posters. They aren’t even posters, they are billboards. Election expenses? Every candidate is breaching the threshold. So many disobey the rules on elections, very few, if there are still some, are strictly on adherence of what’s in the law.
For sure there are several kinks in our electoral system. If only we could return to the post war election process, I think our country could be better. The people will elect a better breed of leaders. Unlike today those who are really qualified can’t and wouldn’t run for several reasons. Those who run are those who have so much money to throw away and view election expenses as an investment. That they are imbued with the high ideals of public is more false than true. Electoral process is already corrupted. You may agree with me or not, but that’s my belief.
Let’s revisit the past. In the early years, elections were held in November and officials were elected after serving four years without term limit. They can hold on the position as long as people vote for them, except for the president who was eligible for one re-election only. The imposed three term limit resulted to political dynasties. When the governor or a mayor is no longer eligible to run, the housewife or the son takes over. In many cases, the wife get elected and the husband, the former mayor will reclaim the post after the wife’s one term. And after the three terms expired again, the son will take it from where the father left. And maybe the father is the now governor of the province.
And look what happened. They moved the elections from November to May. The months before May are the most expensive months for candidates. It is in these preceding two months of March and April where school kids are on vacation, and meaning athletic tournaments like basketball and volleyball are on season. The kids lacking in financing to pay for their uniforms and other expenses will be approaching candidates for contributions. Even the poor but well meaning candidates have to shell out, otherwise…
It is either in March or April where every sitio in each barangay put up ‘pabasa’ during Holy Week celebrations. The committees of the sitios will make a round of the candidates and solicit donations either in cash or in kind. It can be biscuits, colas or construction materials. Very expensive indeed for anyone running for public office.
It is in May where fiestas and santacruzans are held. It is one of the most expensive months for any candidate running for political office. So a candidate, before plunging into the hustings, he or she should find out if the finances are adequate in order to launch a decent campaign. It is not in any way a level playing field.
I am one of those many who wanted to see a return to the post war electoral system. In the present setting, those who are willing to spend bundles during election time will be running for public office. And it can be expected that in many towns, cities and provinces of the country, the well-entrenched politicians will be running unopposed. We have witnessed that in previous elections and it will happen again in this coming elections.
Editor’s Note: Formerly newspaperman of Daily Inquirer and other major dailies; former TV and radio Broadcaster. Former Director of various corporations like Clark Development Co.; and a former City of Angeles Councillor. Now a regular columnist of Sun Star Pampanga.