Understanding Philippine elections

Fri, 04/09/2004 - 00:00
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reprinted from Pilipinas 2.0 magazine, April 2004

Imagine you're an extraterrestial being who's just landed in this planet, in this strange place called Manila… hey! Why are you running back to your UFO? You were frightened by what? A small, loud and nasty creature? Oh that? That's only a newspaper publisher! Generally harmless as long as you leave him alone to talk about himself.

Anyway you'd better come back here so we can continue this story. Besides we need a possible defense against libel. So, you've just landed here and the first things you see are pollution, chaos, violence, greed and cruelty. And you say to yourself, is this all there is to it here? And we'd tell you - of course not! We also go to the movies a lot.

Then you'd probably ask, and what are those lines of garish vehicles moving Who are qualified to run? Generally, any person of any citizenship who's alive, of a certain age, good character and able to summon a mob huge enough to intimidate the Supreme Court around on the streets with the stupid looking people and tasteless loud music -- what do they signify? We'd reply, it's the elections. And of course, because we're writing your lines for you, you'd say, oh, what's that? I don't know much about elections. We'd say, you and certain Comelec officials both.

At that point, we'd have a question and answer exchange like the kind printed below. Afterwards you'd be free to go back to your UFO and fly away. What do you mean, you want to stay? You want to SEE the elections this May? Nobody's stopping you. Hey, who knows, you could even join. Just because you're an alien from outer space doesn't mean you're disqualified, right? Why, you could even run for president! Do you have a toupee?

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PHILIPPINE ELECTIONS

What is a Philippine election?
It all begins when the country's brightest, most highly qualified inhabitants, the young dynamic professionals, citizens who have the potential to make good leaders, get together and examine the country's problems, the state of politics and the long-term national prospects

What happens next?
They decide to emigrate

And after that?
Another group of bright people get together

What do they do?
They also emigrate

And then?
And so on and so forth

What does any of this have to do with a Philippine election?
When talented, smart and highly qualified potential leaders leave the country all the time, who are you left with?

Retired baskteball players? Toilet comedians? Bad actors and actresses? Spoiled vicious rich kids? Ageing and debauched hermaphrodites?
You're now ready to hold a Philippine election

How important are elected officials to the Philippines?
Nobody's been able to figure out an answer to that one

What's at stake in a Philippine election?
Prizes and surprises! Millions in cash! Dream houses! The vacations of your choice! Fun for the entire family! That's from the politician's point of view

How many positions are waiting to be filled in the coming elections?
About 17,000 public offices and a still undetermined number of graves

So it's like a lotto?
Sort of, except that when you lose you could lose your life

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