Tuesday, 27 September 2011 14:35
The culture of corruption that is deeply imbedded in Philippine governance and politics particularly the use of “goons, guns and gold” to manipulate election results is re-appearing as a major factor behind the war and terrorism in Mindanao. The current series of exposes of mother-of-all election irregularities that were perpetrated particularly in Muslim towns and provinces betrays a wholesale attitude, harnessed by the nation’s opportunistic elite, of ill regard or condescension towards Muslim Filipinos.
The belligerence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may be making the search for peace complicated and difficult. However, the underlying corruption and nasty attitude towards Mindanao can only continue to fuel the rebellion and terrorism.
The exposed widespread bribing and intimidation of election officials and local politicians by their national counterparts and overlords have had far-reaching effects. It teaches and develops in local political leaders a culture of impunity, they learn to become accountable only to their personal, vested interests. Election being its heart, democracy has been thus paralyzed and is unable to deliver on its social contract with the people. Deprived of their rightful basic socio-economic benefits, neglected and exploited residents particularly in Muslim areas are forced turn to criminalities, terrorism and insurgencies.
The controversial move by the Aquino government to postpone and synchronize elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the inverse side of this tradition of exploitation by the national leadership. The given excuse to save P2-billion by postponing the election is achieved by sacrificing the Muslim constituents’ right to self-governance and self-determination, the key principle behind their regional autonomy. The saving goes to a currently underspent national budget, and which when eventually spent will most likely be on projects done outside of ARMM.
The worse assault is on the civil dignity and rights of the people and their leaders. The appointment of an ARMM officer in charge and lesser officials to otherwise elective positions will make a mockery of the constituents’ democratic prerogatives and rights. A law allowing the political appointments was passed without the benefit of a plebiscite, which was needed to ratify the organic act that created and regulates the ARMM.
The latter law high-handedly plays around with the Muslim constituents’ right of suffrage and its underlying purpose. The concept of appointing executives and legislators to cure ARMM of its endemic malgovernance to a very tight, unrealistic term – to prettify PNoy’s anti- corruption drive - merely amounts to a smug and nebulous political theory. No matter how scientific or rigorous the ongoing selection process may be behind the appointments, there is no guarantee that PNoy’s appointed clones will perform any better than their elected predecessors. They will after all be accountable not to the people of ARMM, but only to PNoy. Any which way, the citizens – and our collective peace – shall have lost again.
(Peace Advocates Zamboanga)
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