The 8th of February 2022 officially marked the start of the campaign season for the country’s national elections. With five major contenders vying for the Presidency, this year’s elections promises to be colorful. Sure enough, we see the color pink emerging from the ranks of the Presidential aspirant Leni Robredo, the color red being adapted by Marcos kin, Bongbong, and various shades of blue being used by the other contenders: world boxing champion Pacquiao, Mayor Isko, and Senator Lacson. As the election campaign heats up, it would be interesting to see whether, in fact, this elections lives up to the cliché: “ ‘tis the season to be jolly.”
It’s More Fun in the Philippines
Every six years, the campaign season for National elections ushers in a period of frenzy across the archipelago. Economy-wise, it is normal to expect a spike in the GDP figures. This is on account of the election spending i.e. political ads, campaign sorties, cash give-aways, etc., which stimulate the local economies across the Archipelago.
Moreover, myriads of campaign sorties bring along a band wagon of talents and celebrities to entertain the crowds. In lieu of political ideologies being presented, movie stars and beauty queens perform their acts to please the crowds. It’s no wonder then that during the campaign season for elections: ’tis the season to be jolly.
History of Philippine Politics
Interestingly, Philippine-style politics bears certain characteristics that make it unique vis-a-vis rest of the world. A look back at history will show that the erstwhile two-party system i.e. the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party flourished from the time the Philippines secured its independence from the United States of America in 1946. It suffered a setback, however, on September 21, 1972, when President Marcos declared martial law. Sadly, it was during the Martial law era that politics degenerated into cronyism. Indeed, it was Marcos’ dictatorial powers that kept him in place much to the chagrin of his political opponents. Indeed, this era proved to be the darkest period in the country’s history.
Surprisingly, on February 25, 1986, the People Power Revolution broke the iron-fist rule of Marcos, thereby restoring democracy in the Philippines once again. Shortly thereafter, Corazon Aquino, the widow of the late Senator Aquino who was assassinated, was installed as the 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines. Indeed, this was a moment of glory for the Filipino people.
Given the euphoria of the EDSA Revolution, democracy prospered to such an extent that the political system metamorphosed into a plethora of political organizations of every name, ideology, creed, and color. The cultural milieu fostered an aura of extreme adversity towards the martial rule. It was undoubtedly an era highly influenced by egalitarian principles.
The Absence of Principles-based Politics
While it is true that democracy flourished under the Aquino government, the absence of principles-based politics remained a threat to democracy. Personality-based politics pervaded the politico-cultural milieu. This paved the way for the rise of political dynasties. To date, such a problem, however, still persists.
Given such a situation, it behooves us to rally everyone to bring back the two-party system. Hopefully, this would instill amongst the people the brand of politics based on sound political ideologies and principles. This way, party discipline will be instilled amongst the ranks of party members. Hence, the problem of political “butterflies” and fence-sitters would be quelled.
Equal Rights & Opportunities For All
With the elections coming shortly in May, it would serve us well to remind ourselves of the value and relevance of electing a national leader that espouses the highly upheld egalitarian principles. This simply means voting for a President who believes in the primacy of equality in political, social, economic, and civil rights for all people.
Egalitarianism, however, does not mean that people’s conditions be made the same in any respect. Rather, “an egalitarian might be one who maintains that people ought to be treated as equals – as possessing fundamental worth and dignity and as equally morally considerable.”1 Hence, in the exercise of political governance, the would-be President ought not to engage in favoritism, social prejudice, or cronyism.
Wrong Brand of Equality
On this note, I would like to share one of St. Josemaria Escriva‘s aphorisms, which gives a stern warning on the dangers of misunderstanding the principle of equality, as encapsulated in Point #46 of The Way:
“Don’t you think that equality, as many people understand it, is synonymous with injustice?”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 46
Based on a commentary on Point #46, the modern-day saint wanted to highlight the ill effects of a wrong understanding of the concept of “equality”. For example, if one were to apply a uniform salary for all employees regardless of position and skill level, then such would be tantamount to communism. On the contrary, St. Josemaria likened the egalitarian principles to that of a mother who would apply the same degree of love to her children despite the differences in the character of her children.
To conclude, it is quite important to discern the politico-ideological leanings of the Presidential contenders for the 2022 Elections. At the core of it, the litmus test of the candidate’s desirability will lie on whether or not he or she is God-fearing. After all, the roots of the egalitarian principles may be traced to the Almighty God, who gives the same amount of love to each and every one of us, despite our failures and misgivings.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1. Preliminary Distinctions