People often talk about corruption in the Philippines. They talk about how rampant it is. I have rarely seen it myself but it is here. Not everything that happens is born out of corruption and some to seem to think it is. As with most things, the truth lies some where in between.
Recently I read an article that amazed me. It was from the mayor of Bogo City. The mayor of Bogo City is Junie
Martinez. I am not making commentary on this. The major is very intelligent and his candor is refreshing. I came away with the feeling that he is a realist.
The answer to one question stunned me. I will present the question and answer below:
Question: Do you see opportunities for young leaders not just in Bogo but also in other parts of the province? Or do you see political power kept and exercised in the same way that it was when you started as mayor in 1971 and as congressman in 1987?
Answer: One has to be naïve to the bone to believe that political opportunities for young leaders today are the same as those when I started in 1971. Or the same as what textbooks tell us about opportunities in a society blessed by democracy. In 1971 a young leader can win with a good campaign platform and a good smile. Today, never mind the platform and the smile: just have money to run your campaign and to pay for your votes and to pay for whoever needs to be paid so your votes could be counted. It’s a pretty much cynical view from a dyed-in-the wool democrat but except for a hair’s breadth of exaggeration that statement stands. Just look at the kind of political training we are giving our youth. It sucks and it’s sad. And I’m sorry to be part of this generation of politicians responsible for the decadence of our country’s political institutions.
Now I need to explain vote buying. Or at least what I have actually seen.
Politicians don’t actually buy a vote but there is often a payment. What happens is they send money to likely supporters. Once such recipient told me that “It is to remind me to vote. I can vote for whomever I want too.”
Seems to me there is another message, if you want the money next election it would be best if I were still in office.
The mayor mention a bit of exaggeration in his answer. Perhaps this is what he is referring to but I don’t know. I can’t read his mind. I should also say I don’t know if the quote is accurate.
I don’t have any information regarding the paying to make sure your votes are counted.
I have often wondered how accurate election results actually are. Jessie (my girlfriend) tells me she believes they are. She is very jaded on political matters.
Politics in Bogo City and Northern Cebu Province is often dangerous. The mayor seems to think this danger is greatly over stated. The families of Martinez and Benhur are at the center of politics in Bogo. Lots of accusations fly between the families.
During election times, the Armed Forces of the Philippines are put on standby to prepare to deploy to the area if needed. From time to time you’ll see a solider here and there within the city with his weapon.
It is important for visitors in the Philippines to remember that we are not allowed to comment on the political process. Protesting in any way is not allowed. We do not have freedom of speech here. If you don’t live in the Philippines but hope to come, you could be banned from entering if you exercise your home countries rights. Now Filipino can say whatever they like.
Me, I really don’t have an opinion. I’m an observer and use this information to gain insight into the country.
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!