Philippines: Politics of Popularity


Philippines: Politics of Popularity

Philippines: Politics of Popularity

Do you think Sen. Noynoy Aquino will win in his bid for presidency if his parents, Sen. Ninoy Aquino and Tita Cory who are now both deceased, are not popular? He will not! Politics in our country today tend to favor popularity rather than performance. It is evident in what the Liberal Party did. They fielded the more popular Noynoy for the presidency instead of Mar Roxas who is a far better senator in terms of performance. Of course, legislation is different from management; running the country as the chief executive is different from legislating laws but both require high level of performance.

In my high school days, the saying ‘I don’t care whether you like me or not as long as I’m popular’ was found in most of the slum books my classmates have. Today that adage is applied to Philippine politics. Look how Erap rated in the election polls. He scored second to Noynoy because he is popular. But is he not a convicted plunderer? A gambler? A womanizer? A good leader must be a good example to his followers. It is sad to think why this happened, but it is true; it is reality. Most of our countrymen prefer popular figures than less-known ones, they be criminals or poor performers.

How many of those who rated in the political polls are popular movie actors/actresses? Name a position and they are there: president, senator, congressman, governor down to the lowest local ones. I am not saying all of them are not capable of performing their real-life roles. As Richard Gordon observed- Lito Lapid is a better senator than Noynoy. The only thing why they have the courage to run for the position is because they are popular.

It is the same with those who ran because their fathers are popular senators/congressman. They have courage to run because of their forebears’ popularity even though they themselves have not even inscribed their names in the minds of the Filipino people. Funny, isn’t it?

Here are some examples of how popularity is being utilized:

**a mother ran for congress in a district which is/was held by her son. She won.
**a mayor/father ran as vice-mayor of his incumbent vice-mayor daughter who, in turn, ran for mayor (it the father’s last term as mayor). Both won. The daughter defeating no other than the Speaker of the House.
**a mayoralty candidate ran as governor after the gubernatorial candidate husband died during campaign period. Unluckily, she lost.
**an actor who ran as congressman who was later disqualified due to lack of residency urged his wife to run in place of him and she won.

We may seem to deviate from what we are talking about: popularity. Why? I am only trying, as much as I can, to illustrate what drove these men/women, who use popularity as one of their undeclared flatforms.

So, what these men/women are after for? First we must find the definition of politics, especially partisan one because that is what we are in. As defined in the dictionary: Partisan politics– Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power. (Partisan politics is often an obstruction to good government) If the definition is right, it is POWER! That is what these men/women are going after while setting aside delicadeza.

The 70’s adage ‘I don’t care whether you like me or not as long as I’m popular’ is thriving in their minds. I only wish that, in our next political exercise, this will be lessened- and this only happen if our countrymen will become much more enlightened. Popularity of a candidate is not the gauge why he/she should be voted for. It is only PERFORMANCE and not the other way around!



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