Rotten bargain

The more we postpone cleaning up the barangays of dynastic detritus, the more we postpone putting a stop to the oligarchic reach of political dynasties.

August 31, 2022

Yet again our dynasty-loving congressmen are proving to be adept at public flattery with the move to postpone the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Sneaky of them. They must take us for dunces.

Public flattery, you see, only works when we’re all wandering around aimlessly, without a clue of what we want in politics.

Public flattery just won’t work when we know it is being resorted to masking what politicians are really up to.

In the case of the barangay elections — which last week the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved the proposal to move this year’s elections to 4 December 2023 — public flattery is in the form that postponement supposedly saves precious resources, that is public monies.

Yet, Commission on Elections officials vehemently insist the postponement of elections doesn’t save electoral expenses at all, but will even cost more.

Anyway, aren’t congressmen just cheeky? I mean isn’t it great our lawmakers are so concerned with public monies and our well-being?

But wait. There’s always the nagging suspicion something is amiss every time we encounter congressional windbaggery.

Why are they hell-bent on having us get fixated on the idea another electoral exercise this year won’t do us any good?

So, taking with a grain of salt (ironically also running out these days of shortages) what is being said about this postponing business, we encounter one distinctly Philippine political phenomenon they aren’t telling us about — political dynasties.

But how? Why the postponement of the barangay polls is a poisoned chalice if seen through the incapacitating issue of political dynasties?

By sheer luck, we were led to that audacious point from another contentious political issue, from a Senate hearing on Charter change.

In that recent Senate hearing, Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1986 Constitution who vehemently objects to Charter change, blurted out the one compelling reason why we need to conduct barangay polls immediately.

“Until we dismantle the political dynasties by voting for the poor from the bottom up, things will not change… You start at the bottom, at the barangay… The poor should control the barangays. Give them the power. Support them para maalis na ‘yung mga dynasty sa barangay (to get dynasties out of barangays),” Monsod argued.

Suddenly there it is, the ugly truth of the postponement issue: Political dynasties tightly gripping political power even at the lowest levels of elected public office.

Now any talk about political dynasties always puts Congress in a tight bind. The halls of Congress are nothing but clubby havens of political dynasties.

This then leads us to the miserable conclusion that any bona fide congressional member of a political dynasty won’t ever disturb the status quo that perpetuates political dynasties at all levels of government, including those found in barangays.

But that’s not all. In current political machinations, it turns out barangay leaders themselves are nothing but part and parcel of larger political dynasties.

If it were otherwise, how else do we explain numerous instances where a barangay leader so happens to be the father of the incumbent mayor, also the father of the incumbent congressman, also the uncle of several city council members, and even the grandfather of the incumbent Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson?

But if we tell that ridiculous situation to members of Congress, we are met with stony silence as if this never existed.

So much so that even if the present Constitution has an anti-dynasty provision, Congress hasn’t crafted an enabling law to implement it.

Our political oligarchs never had it so good.

Such distressing points then bring us to why postponing the barangay elections is a rotten bargain — the more we postpone cleaning up the barangays of dynastic detritus, the more we postpone putting a stop to the oligarchic reach of political dynasties. Ghastly, isn’t it?

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