Political culture and sub-culture – case of Antipolo City
Any healthy notion of a level playing field in this forthcoming 2010 election cycle in the case of Antipolo City would fall under a misnomer – a myth. The intent of the Fair Election Law is defeated when the incumbent elective officials are the only ones allowed to post tarpaulins just about everywhere in the City, be them – trees, posts, wires, islands, u-turn slots, rails, and the like – quite aside from their absolute monopoly to flaunt their posters/tarpaulins in front of barangay halls, city hall and its annexes, public markets, hospitals, schools, and even privately-owned establishments. Little wonder then how COMELEC can implement pertinent rules and regulations governing prescribed common-poster areas. At the very least, it is nothing but lip service.
There is a maxim in philosophy that ‘if everything is blue, nothing is blue’. Applied in the case of that self-deprecating effort of the powers-that-be to virtually cover the whole political territory with more tarpaulins than necessary to the point of getting the entire visual landscape with their flashy or ‘choreographed’ smiles and names in tarpaulins, it challenges reflection whether these could have been necessary in the first place. Don’t most people know who their incumbent mayor or district congressmen are?
In short, the campaign mood is turned into a ‘theater of the absurd’ and before we even drown in this ‘ideological’ absurdity, as voters, we must exercise our right of suffrage with cautious responsibility. To fall short of that, we might unwittingly inflict more harm to others than they deserve. We should not vote for politicians who presumably used the budgetary resources of the government to fund all these campaign paraphernalia to the tilt. It is wasteful governmental spending to do so especially in the context that they might bleed government coffers die with highly un-judicious fiscal spending.
Even where we could possibly grant that expenses for tarpaulins and similar campaign paraphernalia may have been borne out by the ruling party to which they belong, our Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards does prescribe that public officials must not exhibit behavioral manifestations possibly violative of their office. For instance, if there appears to be a deliberate to make use of public resources in the furtherance of one’s political bid, then this is quite unethical and an appropriate case can be brought against them later on.
The case of independent candidates running in their respective public office of choice – be it as congressman, mayor, vice-mayor, or councilor – it is saddening to note that they are quite automatically outsmarted by the incumbent candidates since they really enjoy undue advantage over new aspiring candidates. Until there can be a system of government subsidy for even the new political players, candidates running on their financial steam, can have real hard time managing their budgetary resources to the maximum.
The future of Antipolo City therefore rests on the voters’ ability to discern between appearance and reality. Let us not be deceived by those who deliberately try to buy votes by giving outright money to their prospective voters or similar stuff given in kind such as caps, t-shirts, fans, ball pens, et cetera. All these amount to a drop in the bucket, come to think of it. When they get their mandates, they will have to recoup on their investment again thus making it impossible for public funds to be administered with high sense of responsibility.
To my mind, the voters of Antipolo City must be able to separate the chaff from the grain by voting wisely and judiciously for the better qualified and more responsible candidates available from the pack. Fact is, there are a wealth of choices from even the new aspiring faces in our given political culture and sub-culture.
It is time to cut the umbilical cord of crippling political patronage in favor of emerging politics characterized by a high sense of public accountability. One such face emerging in the First District of Antipolo City goes by the name of PRIMER PAGUNURAN who now pursues his second program of masteral study at UP-NCPAG. It may be worth appreciating what his profile and platform and legislative agenda are telling us.