Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5 January 2019


One of the differences between a developing country like ours and a developed country is that the former is always experiencing some crisis or another, while the latter is just plodding along with regularity.  Illustrative example:  Take a vacation from a country, say, by not reading the newspapers or watching TV for a week, or actually leaving the place. In general, when you take up the newspapers again, you find that in a developing country, you will have missed so many exciting, disturbing events. In a developed country, you wouldn’t have missed much.

The textbooks explain it, among others, by the fact that institutions in developing countries are relatively weak and so break down more often, or that the rule of law is followed more in the breach than in the observance. Just think about it, Reader.

What this is all leading to is that 2019 is going to be even more exciting than other years, because so many issues that will deeply affect our future as a country hang in the balance, and only we, the people, can resolve it, using the ballot box. Federalism in particular, and constitutional change in general. And the future of feudalism.

“How can that be?” you might well ask.  That is exaggerating. All we’re having are senatorial and local elections, after all. To that, the reply is:  If we continue to elect dynasts in the elections, we are ensuring the survival of the feudalistic characteristics of our society. And the outcome of our senatorial elections will determine whether federalism and constitutional change will take place, because as it is now, the fact that federalism and constitutional change have not been put up for  referendum is solely because the Senate has not ridden along with the President’s and the House of Representatives’ wishes.

Well, what must be done by we, the people, in 2019 to prevent these undesirable outcomes? Not just motherhood statements, mind you, Reader, but specific, doable things. Here are some suggestions:

1. Cross off from our list of to-vote-for candidates anyone who at this point has his/her posters and pictures plastered all over the country, even while the election period has not yet begun. They are already campaigning. They know it, we know it, the Commission on Elections knows it. It is only the (stupid?) Supreme Court that does not. Its reversal of the decision in the Penera case may be an indication of how the Supreme Court kowtows to the powers-that-be. (The original decision and its reversal took place during Gloria Arroyo’s administration.)

Why should we cross them off? Simply because they are unethical, even if their actions may not be (according to the Supreme Court) illegal. Anybody who aims for an unfair advantage in anything he/she does is not to be trusted. How can we trust such people to run the country? Moreover, where do they get the money for those posters and pictures? Either they are already corrupt, or will owe a debt of gratitude to corruptors.

2. Cross off from our list of to-vote-for candidates anyone who is a dynast. And what is a dynast? If no one wants to define one, may I suggest: A dynast is one who has a close relative (father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, first cousin) who is running for or is currently occupying an elective position.

But what about an eminently qualified, “good” dynast, you say? Well, simply this. The benefits that the country will derive from removing dynasties far outweigh the costs thereof (such as those of not voting for a good dynast). So just consider them collateral damage.

3. Vote for senatorial candidates who are not “tuta” (or “future tuta”), aside from not being premature campaigners and dynasts. Remember, Reader, the Supreme Court is at the present time no longer the last bastion of our democracy. The last bastion, by default, is now the Senate—whose behavior influenced the filing of the quo warranto case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Her enemies knew that it was better to “trust” the Supreme Court to kick her out than to “trust” the Senate to convict her on the basis of the weak impeachment charges of the House.

We have to make sure that the last bastion holds—at least until the next presidential election.