The only way to remove political dynasties
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-11-06
After the unnecessary hysteria over the RA 10175, otherwise known as Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, many of our countrymen have picked up a new issue to raise their blood pressure. This issue, that is now in vogue just as the election campaign season has opened, is the scandalous increase and expansion of political dynasties.

Of course, there are valid reasons for us to worry about the increasing number of expanding political dynasties. In the old days, political dynasties would confine their monopoly of power to select positions. This had expanded through the years. Now, the political dynasties are taking over all key positions in the local areas where they thrive. They would want the Governor’s seat, the Congressional seat and the mayoralty post of the most important city of the province. There are valid reasons to suspect that their goals are directed at monopolizing both economic and political powers in their area.

The old political families established the dynasties. Now, newcomers to the power game from the world of showbiz, entertainment and boxing are also seeking to form local dynasties. We have descended from bad to worse. We may have a great president right now who’s successfully transforming the country towards positive change and meaningful reform. However, we must wonder where we will go after President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) steps down when his term expires.

With so many political dynasties holding choice positions, expect them to want to elect a president from among their ilk. They’ll certainly oppose the candidacy of a committed reformer because that threatens the status quo, their preying ground.

Are we helpless in preventing or even removing these political dynasties? Of course not! The problem is the people who want to do something about these dynasties are barking at the wrong tree and raising the wrong issues.

The political dynasties do not equate to a legal problem. In principle, there is nothing wrong with political dynasties and that’s why in the US they celebrate political dynasties like those of the Kennedys of Massachusetts. For so long as Filipinos vote freely, nobody can question the emergence of political dynasties. That’s the reality.

Therefore, wailing on top of your voices at Congressmen and Senators to craft an anti-dynasty bill is counterproductive and unrealistic. In the first place, what can you expect from Congressmen and Senators who are part of political dynasties or are harboring ambitions to form their own political dynasties? They’ll shoot down your proposed bill. That’s like expecting Manny V. Pangilinan to recommend that you subscribe to Globe or Ramon Ang to recommend that you fill up your gas tank with Shell.

The reality is this — the political dynasties that are now spreading like a dreaded plague have been created by our under informed and under educated Filipino voters. The political dynasties did not make the political dynasties — the under informed and under educated voters did. The voters have the power to create as well as end political dynasties and so it’s with the voters that we should work out anti dynasty measures.

The dangerous spread of political dynasties would appear to be concomitant to the deterioration of information and education levels in the country. The top rating television primetime newscasts have to share a good part of the blame for this sorry state of the public mind. Greed for more ad revenues had transformed public service into “news” that merely panders to people’s thirst for scandal, showbiz, crime and conflict. The top TV primetime newscasts became the tabloids of the broadcast media. Nothing intellectual, mostly sensual — the Filipino public mind was driven to this pathetic state. 

Raising public consciousness to the downside of political dynasties would have been made much easier if TV would fulfill its public service commitment for being awarded a franchise. Instead of doing that, it’s precisely TV that even promoted the rise of political dynasties that emerged from showbiz and boxing. It’s high time that the government ordered a review of all these TV franchises. Along with the annual review, the government should promulgate a clearer definition of public service so that TV networks can be better guided in deserving the trust of a franchise. In the US and in Australia, they have annual reviews and the TV networks are nervous when these are about to be conducted.

Media cooperation would be a major component of the task to reduce the extent and clout of political dynasties but we must also do our share of the task. We have to go down there and pick them up - the under informed and under educated - or they’ll continue to bring us all down unwittingly.

There is no escaping our responsibility to raise all of our countrymen who fall under the category of under informed and under educated. When we do not address their problem, we pay the high cost of their social condition. We pay a lot for their health care, their free housing, their free this and free that - really it would have been cheaper and easier for us if went down there and brought them up.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” 

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