The few who control our country

Alex Lacson
Commentary, Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 10, 2014

Only a few families control our politics, government and country.

In fact, only 178 political dynasties control our political system. This is according to the 2014 study of Dr Julio Teehankee, college dean at the De La Salle University, Manila. Around 75% of the members of Congress belong to political dynasties, while around 80% of the governors and mayors also belong to political dynasties. This is according to the 2014 study of Dr Ronald Mendoza, Director of the Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM) Policy Center.

The political dynasties have already captured Congress and the LGU leaderships.

What’s wrong with political dynasties?

They have become a “major obstacle” to progress in the rural areas. Too often, public funds and other resources intended to develop the rural areas do not reach the people. They get hijacked by corrupt local politicians. As a result, the wealth and businesses of the politicians often flourish, while the people in their areas remain poor.

One of the findings of Dr Mendoza’s 2014 study states that poverty is highest in areas controlled by political dynasties, with a few exceptions. Thus, despite the fact that many of these political dynasties have been in power for several decades, and notwithstanding the fact that they and their relatives simultaneously occupy multiple positions of leadership in their areas, poverty in their areas remain high.

At the national level, these political dynasties have also become a “major obstacle” to national development and progress. Since political dynasties have already captured congress, they determine what laws to pass. They would not pass a law to abolish the pork barrel system, since they and their relatives at the LGUs are the biggest beneficiaries of it. They would not pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) or anti-dynasty bill, since these are against their vested interests.

Political dynastyism is a worsening problem in our country.

In the 1980s, it was never heard for husband-wife or for parent-child to become the mayor and vice-mayor of a place. Today, it is the trend. And this trend is increasing in an alarming rate. Perhaps at least 20% of our LGUs today have this notorious political tandem of husband-wife and parent-child as governor-vice governor or mayor-vice mayor. If the 20% becomes 70%, ours will become a totally failed democracy. Ours will become a “familicracy”, a system where a few families control our political system, government and country.

In the 1970s, there was only one dictatorship in the country, the Marcos dictatorship. But today, we have many “small dictatorships” in the form of political dynasties.

In business or any organization, leadership is paramount. The rise and fall of a nation, or a community, depends on the leadership. While a good president can do a lot, it is still the leadership of the representatives, governors and mayors that would spell progress in the countryside.

The tragedy in our country is that many of our leaders have become a big part of our problems.

Our tragedy is that, despite our Christianity, we have some of the most unchristian leaders in our country.

Our tragedy is that many if not most of our leaders do not truly love our people. They do not see God among their fellow Filipinos, though more than 80% of them are Christians, and despite the fact that one of the most fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ says “Whatever you do to the least of your neighbors, you do to Me.”

If our next president will not consider the dynasties and the pork barrel system as a big part of our problems, things in our country will continue as they are today. The dynasties will consolidate their political kingdoms. The pork barrel system will continue to feed the dynasties. Public funds intended for the poor in rural areas will continue to be hijacked by corrupt politicians under the pork barrel system. Our country’s GDP could continue to grow but the growth will continue to be non-inclusive.

The problem in the countryside is leadership – sincere, competent and dedicated leadership in the LGUs.

What our country truly needs is a leader who does not only see corruption as a problem, but one who clearly sees that the leaders who engage in it and the evil system that allows it, are the bigger part of the equation.

A leader who clearly sees that political dynasties are a big obstacle to our country’s development and progress.

A leader who clearly sees that the pork barrel system, the evil practice that provides the “carcass” to the political dynasties and entices them to multiply themselves, is a big part of our problem.

A leader who clearly sees that the corruption from pork barrel system is the most hideous of all, for they are public funds set aside by law for our people. Stealing them is stealing food, medicines, books, schools and roads from our people. Stealing them is stealing development and progress from our country.

Jose Rizal talked of a “social cancer” in Philippine society during his time. But the Spanish authorities, the major cause of this “social cancer, already left the country more than a hundred years ago. However, the “social cancer” has remained with us. And it is worsening.

A cancer is caused by a few bad cells, who keep on multiplying until they become the dominant cells in one’s body.

That’s what is happening to our society today. The few bad leaders in our society are the major cause of our present-day “social cancer”. They are already in control of our politics, congress and LGUs. Their insatiable greed for wealth and power cause our people to suffer. They are destroying our society.

We must find a solution to our present-day “social cancer”.

We must find a way to heal our nation.

Support the People’s Initiative for the Abolition of the Pork Barrel System (PIAP).

This will remove the carcass that attracts political vultures.

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Alex Lacson (alexlacson12@gmail.com) is author of the book “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country”.

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