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Aug 09th
Antonio Abaya wrote: From: Antonio Abay PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 July 2009 22:56
Antonio Abaya wrote: From: Antonio Abaya Subject: Trapos versus Non-Trapos To: Date: Thursday, July 2, 2009, 11:53 PM Trapos versus Non-Trapos By Antonio C. Abaya Written on July 01, 2009 For the Standard Today, July 02 issue Last Tuesday, June 30, my friend Ben Sanchez sent out to his e-list the question: How do you define Trapos? My reply, expanded for the purpose of this column: : Ben, I invented the term trapo in one of my columns sometime in September 1989, from the phrase ‘traditional politician.’ The revealing signs of a trapo are: Ill-gotten Wealth. He/she enriches himself/herself while holding public office. On this score alone, most of the incumbent elected public officials and many of the appointed ones are trapos. Many corrupt appointive officials invariably seek elective public office – mayor, governor, congressman, senator, vice-president, president – in order to expand and protect their ill-gotten wealth and hence further strengthen the stranglehold of the trapos on our political and our economic life. Political Dynasties. He/she establishes a dynasty to capture exclusive political power for his/her family/clan, to the exclusion of other putative entrants into the power structure. Thus we have many actual situations, or variations thereof, where Papa is senator, Mama is congresswoman, Ate is governor, Kuya is mayor, and the family idiot is municipal councilor. We even have a case in Muslim Mindanao where the governor had his four wives run for mayor in four towns in his province. Three of the four actually won. The 1987 Constitution specifically called for the dismantling of political dynasties. But it has never been put into practice because all efforts to pass implementing laws have been blocked by, who else, the incumbent political dynasts in Congress. Only a revolutionary government can eradicate political dynasties. Campaign Over-Spending. A trapo invariably spends more in his/her campaign to be elected/re-elected than the actual salary that the public office he/she seeks will pay. This indicates that he/she intends to use that office for rent-seeking, i..e. making money from licenses, permits, kickbacks and over-pricing in government contracts, etc. that the office has jurisdiction over. It is a process made more seamless if his/her dynasty controls the operational bureaus, departments and other involved offices. Campaign over-spending is really the biggest single source/cause of corruption in the Philippines. Running for public office has become a business investment – sourced from the trapo’s personal or family wealth, and/or from his/her financial backers – to be recouped many times over once that office is won. The high and increasing cost of running for public office means this built-in corruption generator is already imbedded in our political culture The proliferation of infomercials on TV and radio, the ubiquitous presence of candidates’ tarpaulin billboards all over the country, long before the actual campaign period begins, shows how expensive running for public office has become, thereby limiting the entrants to those with deep pockets and corrupt intentions, perpetuating the culture of corruption. One way to neutralize this would be for the Comelec to require pre-mature campaigners to sign a binding pledge that they will not run for any public office in the next (2010) elections, and which would automatically disqualify them if they do. But the chances of such a law being passed by a trapo-dominated Congress are nil. Only a revolutionary government can promulgate and enforce such a law. Another way to reduce campaign expenses, and thus corruption in government, would be to totally ban all radio and TV political advertising, as I have proposed many times in this space. Instead the three government-owned TV networks – Ch 4, 9 and 13 - and their satellite radio and TV stations in the provinces, should be deputized by the Comelec as the sole venues for political campaigning, where all competing candidates and parties get equal air time FOR FREE, as scheduled by an independent citizens watchdog committee.. But the commercial TV and radio stations, print media, advertising studios, printing presses, PR outfits, media manipulators and other parties who have vested financial interests in campaign over-spending would lobby against such a rule. This would be a case of private interests being stacked against the national interest, and I would surmise that the private interests would prevail, except under a revolutionary government. Finally, the flood of campaign billboards and posters that invariably disfigure our cities and towns and highways every election season, and which the Comelec is totally helpless to control, can be reduced drastically if citizens groups, aided by the police, were deputized by the Comelec to tear down and remove posters and billboards that are a) larger than the authorized sizes; b) placed or affixed in places not allowed by the Comelec (on lamp posts, trees, bridges, public walls and buildings, etc). This would be a self-policing measure. Competing candidates and parties will not allow their rivals to gain advantage over them with illegal or illegally placed campaign material and should be among those deputized to remove such illegal campaign material. A revolutionary government is not necessary for this measure, only vigilant citizens groups. No Political Ideology. Trapos do not care for political ideologies or programs of government. Which explains why Filipino politicians change their party affiliation with promiscuous frequency. They are interested only in political advantage for themselves, They are really political prostitutes, enticed by the come-ons, usually from the party or coalition in power. Once that party loses power, the trapos invariably scamper towards the next apparent Santa Cluas. This was what happened to Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan; Cory Aquino’s Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino; Fidel Ramos’ Lakas-NUCD, which has effectively lost its followers to Gloria Arroyo’s paper-bag-dispensing Kampi. Political turn-coatism can be discouraged by penalizing it. If a trapo changes party affiliation., he /she should not be allowed to run for any office in the next elections. Can the Comelec enforce such a rule? I doubt it. Only a revolutionary government can. ***** By coincidence, after I sent my reply to Ben Sanchez, the July 01 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer carried news that a new citizens group, the Movement for Good Governance (MGG) seeks to create what it calls “People’s Primaries” through which non-trapos who want to run in the 2010 elections will have a chance to air their platforms and programs of government. The People’s Primaries, patterned after the primaries in US elections, seeks to identify non-trapos and give them the public exposure that they otherwise would not have in the political arena dominated by the heavily financed trapos. (Snipped)
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