Democracy (and more) is corrupted


    ‘And Mayor Domagoso?
    I hope I am proven wrong,
    but it seems to me that the young Mayor Domagoso, like democracy itself, is corrupted.’

    OVER the last few days, a new topic has entered the regular COVID-laced conversation between friends – politics. This, after one important milestone has passed, the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy for every elective office, from President down to city or municipal councilor.

    But because Philippine democracy is much more “complex” than many others, the passing of the deadline is not the end of it, really. There still is a period of “substitution” (which ends on November 15) during which parties can replace someone who has already filed a certificate of candidacy with someone else who, in effect, is able to file a certificate of candidacy beyond the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy.

    So the deadline really is not the deadline because there is another deadline! How very much like the saying that in the Philippines many of the things in our statute books aren’t really laws, they’re just recommendations. And the better connected you are, the more empowered you are to “ignore” these “recommendations.”

    As I’ve said previously, democracy has to contend with free enterprise in countries like the US, and the UK, less so perhaps in Germany, but definitely so in a country like ours. What do I mean by this?

    Democracy is all about every qualified citizen having one vote, which he may decide to cast in favor of a candidate. (Or not to cast at all, for that matter). In its simplest and purest form, democracy evens the playing field because a pauper and a tycoon both have just one vote each.

    But free enterprise – let’s just call it capitalism – comes in. And changes everything.

    Because in capitalism, he who has the gold makes the rules. And so when we overlay capitalism on top of democracy, what happens? A tycoon then may officially have one vote, but because of his wealth he effectively has millions more. In his pocketbook. His capitalist power then trumps the democratic power of the pauper.

    And that’s how democracy is corrupted here, or in America, or wherever the political system is not strong enough to create and then respect a dividing line between the two spheres of life – between democracy and capitalism. It is possible to do so, to limit the influence of money on politics, if society has the will.

    Yes, a big IF.

    Some two months ago I quizzed an old college friend about the political situation. “We are still working on VP Leni,” he told me, “but she seems really reluctant. If she doesn’t run,sss we will support Isko.”

    Isko? I said. Why Isko? I personally think he is a promising politician, but I’ve said it here before – I look forward to a three-term Mayor Isko teaming up with a three-term Mayor Vico and you’d have one hell of a tandem. But three terms were necessary so they could both point to a track record. Because a track record should matter, yes?

    My friend’s answer was pragmatic: “If VP Leni doesn’t run we need to support the strongest candidate who can beat the candidates of PRRD.”

    I smiled to myself. My friend was clearly working on the assumption that Mayor Isko was going to run a campaign against PRRD. And in truth it seemed that way. For a while at least.

    Then something must have happened.

    Lucky for my college friend, VP Leni has decided to run, because I think it is clear now that Mayor Isko is not the candidate he was looking for. And when Aksyon Demokratiko accepted the Manila Mayor, I wonder if they figured at that time that he was the best “antithesis to PRRD” candidate?

    The party that the late Senator Raul Roco founded may have to think again or join the ranks of the PDP-Laban, which has strayed so far from its founding ideals it is now totally unrecognizable.

    Think about it: Even the idea of holding a party convention to nominate candidates who, however, do not run for the positions for which they are nominated? What a way to turn your party processes into a joke.

    Fact is, every political part is corrupted. Very clearly, even our party nomination system is corrupted.

    And democracy is corrupted.

    And Mayor Domagoso? I hope I am proven wrong, but it seems to me that the young Mayor Domagoso, like democracy itself, is corrupted.

    I will be happy to be proven wrong.