Et Tu, Brut?

(The title is an allusion to the so-called last words of Julius Caesar. So-called because it is unclear whether or not he actually said those words prior to his death by assassination.)

Messianic Aspirants
Aspirants. This photo copyright by somebody else.

So we come again to one of the most contested, if not the most colorful, events in Philippine local history. I am not talking about Christmas, although the holiday can vie for being a close second. I am referring to Philippine presidential elections, which as of this writing is about seven months away.

What contributed to the writing of this particular post was the Inquirer news article about a couple of “Messianic” aspirants to the highest office in the land. I have noticed since the day I was first legally old enough to vote, that wild and wacky personas would vie for the position of PotRP, standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder with the non-wacky and almost wacky. The opening of the filing of candidacy seem to draw everyone out of the woodwork. I have two minds about the whole issue.

On the one hand, I am thankful for the fact that the electoral process in the Philippines is free–or as free as it is going to get for the most part. Gone are the days when the entire archipelago would be under the threat of guns, goons, and gold. Of course, I am not naive, and I recognize that the threat of the three Gs is still in effect somewhere, hovering like a hungry bat over some unfortunate sector of the populace. A good many of our citizens, though, will exercise their right to vote, without any fear that a wrong name on the ballot will be the equivalent of a bullet in the head, or worse. Concurrent with that line of thinking, even a vote boycott by some individuals would still be seen as the presence and exercise of freedom and not the opposite.

On the other hand, I am quite sickened with the idea that the freedom in our electoral process has not, for the most part, produced ideal candidates. In an ideal situation, a person should be losing sleep trying to decide between two or more intelligent choices, who whatever their plan and platform, would be individuals whom you know have different but equally selfless, nationalistic, and viable plans (emphasis very much mine) for the good and future of the country. (One candidate may favor improving agriculture, another may concentrate on improving technology and education, while still another might want to banish Kris A and those like her to some godforsaken island.) In the end, losing sleep would be worth it.

The reality is however, far from bright. You look at the roster of candidates and you go, “That’s it?” And

From Wikipedia. The first line is already redundant, don't you think?
From Wikipedia. The first line is already redundant, don’t you think?

I am not even considering yet the presence of nuisance candidates. These are the wackos (and I am not even trying for a better word here) who come out during the election season and whose only value is to provide [shudder] entertainment–anybody old enough to remember the dancing presidential candidate a few years back?–to the rest of us. Again, in an ideal situation, do we even need entertainment of this sort? Shouldn’t the Commission on Elections declare as unqualified and dismiss these individuals even before the ink on their COC’s have dried?

Is all this the result of having a too lax set of requirements for presidential aspirants? The image on the right is a capture from the Wikipedia page about the President of the Philippines. You only have five requirements which qualify about half the population. There is no educational limitations, aside from the ability to read and write. No other restrictions, meaning the office of president is open to anyone. Would you grant CEO status to someone just with that?

Or is this the result of frustration with the current setup that anyone can dream (foolishly, in my opinion) that he or she alone can have the wherewithal to “save the nation?”

Or is it the result of something else?


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