Archive for February, 2010

Money in the Time of Elections

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , on February 28, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

A candidate who fails to see what’s wrong with handing out money during election season only shows that he has limited understanding of the concept of traditional politics and its ill effects. Worse than the cunning and calculating traditional politician is the naïve and innocently ignorant traditional politician because he is perpetuating the scourge of Philippine political culture and public service without him realizing it.

That kind of tradpol (or trapo, in Philippine political lingo) is personally beyond reform because he thinks he is doing the country a great service although he is unwittingly perpetuating patronage politics. He will always think what he is doing is noble and will only look at those who have an opposing view as detractors to his cause. But for him not to realize the ill effects of his charity, there must be really something wrong with his values orientation and judgment.

What exactly is wrong with giving away money in the time of elections?

Well, it really smacks of vote-buying. During the time of elections, a candidate is only expected to spend money on the production of campaign collaterals, payment of hired personnel, campaign operations and other services. To simply hand over cash to anyone in exchange for nothing, whether voter or non-voter, young or old, male or female, it only serves one purpose—to get votes.

Handing over cash to a child in the time of elections, even if the child cannot vote, only serves to solicit votes for the candidate handing over the cash. Especially if the cash is handed in full view of the public, and even played up in media because during political campaigns, each action of a candidate which is done in public is assumed as a means of attracting votes.

The child who was given money most probably had parents or guardians. Most likely they are voters. And it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the money handed over to the child is indirectly an appeal to the parents or guardians of the child to support the candidate giving the money.

In such a scenario, the appeal goes out not just to the parents or guardians of the child, but also to the observers of the whole event. The message to those who witness such charity is “look at me, I’m so caring I’m giving away money. So vote for me”.

Under normal circumstances, such actions may be considered charity. But during elections, it should be seen as nothing other than vote buying. The circumstances make it so. It might be said that it would be unfair to make that conclusion because the candidate may just be sincere in wanting help, but the circumstances call for better judgment on the part of the candidate giving the money away.

If the candidate had the right sense of values and principles, he would realize by himself that giving money away during elections will only be seen as a political gimmick and perpetuate a practice long identified with the trapo.

A candidate with better judgment, sound discretion and creativity would be able to think of ways to extend help without resorting to giving away money. For example, if a child is hungry, the candidate can buy food and hand it over to the child. There is a world of difference between handing money over to a child and giving the child food to satisfy his hunger, especially during the election season.

To a child, when he receives money from a candidate during campaign season (which they undoubtedly know owing to the streamers, stickers and smiling faces of candidates), he learns that a “good candidate” is a candidate who hands out money. At an early age, their young minds are already being corrupted by practices of traditional politics. What kind of voters will they turn out to be when they grow old?

Having been a candidate myself four times now, I get frustrated and disgusted at voters who return my handshake with the words “wala bang naka ipit na isang daan dyan?” These are the kinds of voters that the young children who were given money by a candidate turn out to be.

A candidate’s failure to discern this effect of this “political charity” says something about his own character and values. It reveals his principles and his views on what the guiding force in the process of selecting the country’s leaders is —“pera pera lang yan”.


Statement on the Support by the Magdalo to my Senatorial Candidacy

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

It is humbling to be included in the list of senatorial candidates that the Magdalo are endorsing in the 2010 elections. With the support that the group is giving my candidacy, victory in this election is one more step closer to becoming a reality. Their support deserves nothing less than my most sincere thanks and appreciation.

This support is not anchored on mere electoral convenience or temporary converging interests. Belonging to the same generation, the Magdalo and I are both concerned on how the Philippines will proceed towards recovery and reform from the debilitating downward spiral of the country’s political culture and integrity in public service. The fate of the future generation rests on what the country’s leadership will do in leading this country further into the 21st Century. We want to play a relevant role in it.

The ideals of the Magdalo are not different from that of my own. While our professions would normally make us different as apples are to oranges, the ideals we are standing up for are one and the same—the welfare of the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the modernization of the Philippine military, the pursuit of peace in Mindanao, the eradication of poverty and the restoration of trust in government through good governance.

Our alliance is not one between strangers. Being a son of a career military officer, I know by personal experience what the life of a soldier is, and the perspective that a soldier has with regard to government and society. The friendship I have with some of the members of the Magdalo were built decades before the existence of the Magdalo while others were forged from the commonality of principles that were made public in their first outing as a reform movement.

The support of the men and women of the Magdalo will not go unreciprocated. This is a symbiotic and synergistic relationship where both sides mutually benefit from each other and work towards a common objective which is the restoration of the people’s trust in government through a reformed, reoriented and rejuvenated governance.

NP Candidate Has Been Immersed Too Much in Showbiz, He’s Resorting to Sowing Intrigue Rather than Dealing With Real Issues

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

One of Nacionalista Party’s candidates, a lawyer, has been immersed too much in show business that he’s taken the role of “intrigero” by taking potshots at the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino whom he accuses as being plagued by the “virus of distrust” based on rumors that Aquino centralized the management of his campaign funds and designated his sisters to handle it (read it here).

Apparently lacking substantial issues to discuss, the lawyer is using the issue to portray Aquino as someone incapable of managing the country. The matter of how a candidate manages his campaign finances is not really one that should be of consequence with regard to capability to run the country. Any politician knows that campaign finance management are purely a candidate’s discretion especially that a candidate has to make sure that every centavo that he gathers for his campaign goes to the right expenditure.

The handling of such funds require the highest level of trust, especially at a time when opportunists, swindlers and other characters hover around candidates hoping to get a piece of the campaign fund pie. Who the candidates trust in handling their finances during their campaigns should not be a point of concern. Management skills cannot be judged just on the basis of how a candidate handles his campaign funds.

It’s a pity that a Harvard educated lawyer running for the Senate chose to assume the role of “intrigero” instead of taking on issues of greater national concern such as the postponement of the peace process in Mindanao. We can only guess how his fellow Muslims and Mindanaoans think about choice of issues to discuss.

RP-MILF Peace Talks’ Snag Just Appropriate

Posted in Governance, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

The postponement of the RP-MILF peace talks which were supposed to resume tomorrow is just appropriate, considering the fact that the Philippine Government is now in a period of transition with the 2010 National and Local elections to be held in May.

The position of the MILF in pursuing a deal that is not within the bounds of the Constitution further erodes the possibility of coming up with a peace agreement before the end of President Arroyo’s term. This administration cannot guarantee amendments to the Constitution under this 14th Congress, what more under the 15th Congress.

The composition of the 15th Congress, which will be the one to tackle any revision or replacement of the Constitution, will only be known after the May 2010 elections. No one knows how the 15th Congress will collectively think about changes to the Constitution so even if the government gives in to the demands of the MILF for concessions outside the Charter, it cannot guarantee that the concessions will be followed by the new government.

It is even incumbent upon the Arroyo administration not to commit anything that it cannot deliver, such as amendments to the Constitution. It would be an empty promise and it would be unfair to the new administration and the new Congress.

The Arroyo Administration should not look at this peace agreement as just another feather in their cap or as another mark in their list of achievements to highlight the end of their rule. A peace agreement should not be forged just so that President Arroyo can say that it happened within her term. At this point, it is foolish to sign an agreement is not guaranteed to be implementable. The prevailing circumstances make it necessary to pass the torch of crafting the peace agreement to the next government.

The offer of “Enhanced Autonomy” by the Arroyo administration should also be abandoned. Aside from questions on what kind of and how much enhancement the Executive Branch can give without legislative action, the issue of a midnight deal comes to mind. In the dwindling hours of the Arroyo Adminsitration, it shouldn’t go into such commitments.

Instead of offering “enhanced autonomy”, the Administration should just work for the adoption of a Period of Peace beginning now and until the new government takes office. During such period, both parties agree not to engage in hostilities and continue talks at the technical level in order to prepare the ground for fresh round of talks between the MILF and the new government.