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Elections and Accountability


The 2013 May elections is just another reminder that we Filipinos will soon be choosing another batch of leaders that we deserve:  leaders whom we believe, clearly or blindly, that they can do something to make the Philippines great again; leaders whom we think (depending on how they motivate us to think) can propel Mindanao to development; and leaders whom we actually patronize because of our personal or professional relations with them, regardless of how stupid they may be. To that, may I also add, leaders whom we pushed because we have used them (and still intend to use them perhaps) for our personal gain as well.

Honestly, there is less fun in Philippine political exercises—we recycle people to positions because we think our communities have run out of persons with leadership and management skills, people-caring  skills, policy planning and implementation skills, without realizing that there are qualities that are needed ‘though not cited in the Constitution:  honest, corrupt-free, sincere, humble, and possessive of good communication and decision-making skills.  Certainly, I am being too subjective and too idealistic in saying so.

When the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Zamboanga City Chapter had a symposium at the Ateneo De Zamboanga University last year, with Fr. Albert Alejo of the Society of Jesus as resource speaker, one of the main subjects he discussed with us was accountability of public servants. 

Article XI, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution states that “Public officers must at all times be accountable to the people.”  This leans on the legal principle that ‘public office is a public trust’.  The forthcoming elections may just be another political exercise, but one instance when winning and losing candidates manifest sincerity and dedication to devote their lives and commit themselves as public servants is their declaration of election expenditures in the SECE, or the Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures.

Six months from now, I would look forward to looking at the SECEs, as I recall having had a glimpse at some SECEs filed by candidates of the once-named Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and realized that some of the candidates from our neighboring provinces have spent so little on elections—when the tarpaulins and billboards plus projects (finished or unfinished) have just been flaunted all over.  Well, I could not even mention those fat envelopes and brown bags filled with dough as this would constitute hearsay. Talk about accountability. ‘though.

Elections in the entire Zamboanga Peninsula will be a political situationer to watch.  Prominent families are already playing on the political arena even as early as 2012’s last quarter:  the Jalosjoses in ZamPen, the Tans, Sahidullas, and Loongs in Sulu, the Akbars in Basilan, and the Sahallis in Tawi-Tawi.

Hasta la vista! 
(La Chica Viajera, for Zamboanga Today)

By Frencie Carreon

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