Election Reforms Should Trump Political Dynasties

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Less talk, less mistake. No talk, no mistake. This appears to be the mantra adopted by Vice President Jojo Binay’s daughter,
Nancy Binay, whom I will not be voting for senator in the May 13 mid-term elections.

By snubbing fellow senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros of Team PNoy to a debate, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate Binay showed her hubris as she is looking past the senatorial election, which she feels is already in her grasp.

Perhaps,  Binay learned a thing or two from former long-time Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who never debated his underdog opponents because he knew he was well ahead in the survey and in fund-raising. If Daley opened his mouth and made mistakes, it would cost him some votes and a few thousands of dollars to buy TV ads to regain the lost votes.

What Binay is trying to say is that her Grade One teacher should promote her to Grade Two without taking a test because she already knows every lesson there is to learn in Grade One. I just don’t know how she is going to be accelerated if the teacher has not even tested her.

Conversely, the message that Binay is telling the Filipino voters is that there is no more need for a man to court a woman before marriage even if she has an irreconcilable past that could only lead the marriage on the rocks.

Are Filipinos now ready for pre-arranged marriages where there is no more need to find out if a couple have feelings for each other before they tie the knot?

Becoming a senator is like joining a PBA or NCAA where players need to showcase their basketball skills in front of the referees and sports fans before they are declared Finals champions. If you do not have the height and speed, you do not need to try out to join a basketball team. But if you have the intelligence, then you can audition for a coaching job.

VOTING SHOULD BEGIN AT HOME

If you want to be a senator, you should have the ability to express your ideas in public clearly and forcefully so the voters or the public can weigh in in your ability to convince your peers in the senate. If you are running a national campaign, make sure you have the votes of your town or province, to begin with.

If you cannot even convince ordinary voters to vote for you, how can you convince other senators to support your bills?

Giving Binay a pass by the Filipino voters to debate Hontiveros or any of her senatorial opponents would deprive the Filipino voters the ability to find out if she has what it takes to be a senator.

Voters do not care how a senator looks or acts. They only care to know what laws does a senator have in mind to improve their daily lives. They don’t want motherhood statements. They want specific words that can lead into actions that would benefit them here, there and now.

The Filipino people don’t want surprises. Take the case of incumbent Sen. Lito Lapid, who admitted he couldn’t articulate himself in English, the official language of the chamber. Yet, according to his website, “At the close of the 15th Congress, Senator Lapid filed 239 measures earning him the distinction as the fifth most prolific members of the Upper Chamber.” But frankly, do the Filipino people really believe that he could have written those bills in Englishwith minimum assistance from his advisers? Of course, not.

I don’t want Binay to join Lapid’s “silent” minority party. One member is one too many.

IN EXECUTIVE BRANCH, TALK IS CHEAP

If she really wants to go deep into public service, she is better off joining the cabinet, where action speaks louder, and talk is cheap. Besides, if she becomes a senator and her father becomes the President in 2016, how can she check or fiscalize the abuses of her father?

I have been a proponent of MAD (Movement Against Dynasty). But since it will take a herculean effort on the part of Congress to adopt an implementing anti-dynasty law as required by the Philippine Constitution, I suggest the government gets tough with public officials, who do not file their SALN’s(statement of assets, liabilities and net worths), like what the Senate did to Chief Justice Renato Corona.

And what about taking the challenge of Sen. Chiz Escudero that before a candidate files for candidacy, he should execute a waiver to bank secrecy and give it to the Office of the Ombudsman, who will have a free hand to look into his questionable bank accounts both here and overseas?

I would also add that Philippine Congress adopt a U.S. law called currency transaction report (CTR) that triggers financial institutions to file a report
to BIR or Ombudsman or other financial institutions when a depositor makes a deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer in the amount of more than $10,000 (or 400,000 pesos). CTR snared the wife of Senator Lapid, who drew a three years’ probation sentence in Las Vegas, Nevada. Aren’t we to learn from mistakes of others?

SALNs, CTRs, CAMPAIGN DONATIONS ANTIDOTE TO DYNASTY

Any unexplained “new wealth” amassed by a politician should automatically be garnished by the government under the 1955 Forfeiture Law. The politician should also take a leave of absence from his elective post until cleared by the Ombudsman.

Congress should also strengthen the two-party system so that taxpayers and Filipino-owned (or majority-stock owned by Filipinos) companies can donate money up to certain limits to either political party that will be matched by the government. This is partly covered by Sen. Ed Angara’s Senate Bill No. 3214.

Any money raised will be used by the party machinery for running local and national campaigns in any election. Any excess donation goes back to the party, not to the candidate, who raised the money. Hindi ito pueding pasalubong o pabaon! (No arrival or parting gifts for this money, please!) And names of donors and amount of donations, both by individual and company, will be made public online by the party for transparency.

In the case of Mayor Daley, he gave away the balance of his $540,000 campaign funds to charities. While U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-IL) turned his $750,000 campaign funds into his own piggy bank account. As a result, Jackson will be spending 3 ½ to 4 ¼ years in prison while his wife, Sandy, alderwoman, will be jailed between one and two years.

Voters can donate to the campaign up to a certain maximum amount. In the U.S., an individual can donate no more than $48,600 to state and local party committees and PACs.

If the SALNs, CTRs and campaign donations take roots in the Philippines, even poor but deserving candidates can topple any of the well-entrenched political dynasties like the Marcoses or the Binays, etc. in the Philippines. Campaign donations are not tax deductible.

Here are my candidates, including those endorsed by USP4GG, on the May 13 mid-term elections: Nos. 2. Edgardo Angara (LDP); 6. Casino, Teddy (MKB); 7. Cayetano, Alan Peter (NP); 8. Cojuangco, Tingting (UNA) (for supporting Sabahclaim): 13. Escudero, Chiz (IND) (for being humble); 15. Gordon, Dick (UNA) (for helping friends in distress); 16. Hagedorn, Ed (IND); 18. Hontiveros, Risa (Akbayan); 19. Legarda, Loren (NPC) (for being pro-environment and a former media worker); 27. Pimentel, Koko (PDP) (for being chip off the old block); 30. Trillanes, Antonio IV (NP) (just for setting his email auto-response in vacation default); and 31. Villanueva, Bro. Eddie (BP).

And for Party-List Representative, my choice is No. 96. Migrante Sectoral Party of Overseas Filipinos and their Families.

May the best candidates win!

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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