General Admission

Our elections are only for the rich

By Al S. Mendoza

IF you have not realized it yet by now, then you must be in another planet.

Elections in the Philippines are not for the poor.

I mean, the poor can join every election, why not.

They can file their certificates of candidacy, why not.

Everything, almost anything, is possible.

“Unli” on anything under the sun.  Virtually.

That is democracy for you. 

Consider:

We are free to do what pleases us, for as long as we don’t break any law.

That’s because every right has its own corresponding responsibility, accountability, liability.

Meaning, not all rights are absolute.

There is freedom of movement but that does not give you the right to enter any house of your liking.

There is freedom of choice but that does not give you the right to choose someone already belonging to someone.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, remember?

There is freedom of speech but that does not give you the right to curse anyone, insult anyone, shout at anyone, malign anyone.

You can criticize the president’s style of governance anytime but never go beyond being a critique.

For, if you tell anyone, request anyone, order anyone, to kill the president, you could be thrown behind bars faster than the speed of sound.

What I am saying is, democracy is good because of liberties attached to it that practically give us “unli” choices to embrace.

For example, democracy also gives everybody the right to run for public office.

I do not agree with the Comelec rule of declaring many poor candidates as “nuisance” candidates.

But I will agree, to a certain extent, that a mentally imbalanced candidate should be barred from running.

However, calling him a “nuisance” is derogatory, to say the least.  Discriminatory.  Inhuman even.

Now why did I say our elections are not for the poor?

Because you need money to have a fairly strong chance of winning.

If you still do not know that until now, you must be from planet Pluto.

Who are the candidates who can afford to place a political ad in either radio or TV?

Do you know how much an ad lasting only 15 seconds of airing cost?

No less than P250,000!

I couldn’t even earn that much in a year of writing columns.

Can you name me a senator as poor as Ermin Garcia?

Tell you what.

I was asked several times already by wealthy friends of mine to run for congressman in the second district of Pangasinan.

I thanked them for their trust and confidence, but I said no, thanks.  My mother and wife said no, too.

Next, I was asked by the same wealthy friends of mine to run for mayor in my beloved hometown of Mangatarem.

Likewise, I said no, thanks.  My mother and wife said no, too.

The wealthy.  They can run anytime because they have the money.  They can make someone run anytime because of their money.

The poor? 

They can run, too, anytime. 

But without money, what are their chances of winning?

Slim and none.

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