Está en la página 1de 35

Good Governance Review

IS IT REALLY ABOUT DEMOCRACY?1


Explaining Backward Democratization in the Philippines and its Concomitant Political and
Electoral Variables on the Modern Perspective
Atayde, Garri A.
Bachelor in Arts major in Political Science
Keywords: Democracy, Democratization, Philippine Democracy, Backward Democracy,
Transitional Democracy, Consolidation, Reformation
Introduction
The Philippines has been exposed in both democratic and non-democratic regimes for the
past few decades. Until today, on the basis of political history and as per the advent of
democratization, the peaceful transition of regimes, conspicuous invocation of substantive
political and civil rights in accordance to the rule of law, collaborative governance [in
participation of civil society organizations], and of course, the manifestation of free elections can
be widely allured in the arena. Indeed, one can indispensably attest to have once in a while
benefited in the fortress of democracy.
To the researchers curiosity, it is surprisingly evident if one may consider looking to
social networks particularly to news threads that a significant proportion of netizens (mostly
acting on their electoral capacity) finds a new alternative of governance somehow attractive. 2 As
per the clamor of critics, the people, and even some political scholars and analysts, the
democratic institutions in the Philippines are said to be virtually flawed making it suffer the
1 To provide earliest clarity and to avoid any further impediment, for layout
purposes, I intentionally resembled the construction of the titular format in the work
of Batalla, Jayoma, & Trajano (2015) Pro-Business Administration
2 I am aware that merely analyzing and scanning social media threads do not
suffice the quantitative value of the premise. Nevertheless, in the absence of a
more concrete numerical evidence, one can easily attest to this collective energy by
simply looking a sample thread of social media accounts of [mainstream] news
organizations (i.e. GMA News, ABS-CBN News, Rappler, and Inquirer.net, to mention
a few).

Good Governance Review


complications of a crooked body-politic. But at the end of the day, is it meritorious to attribute
the failure of democracy to democracy per se? In humanist tone of analysis, would it be the
individualist stance that actually counts? Hence, this paper attempts to bend the light so as to
augment to the spirit of political analysis in dealing with these paradigmatic intellectual and
attitudinal shifts to democratic into a quasi-authoritarian political dealership.3
Inasmuch as we like to simplify the research objective, we are fundamentally discussing
the shortcomings of democracy in the Philippines. Why does it appear to be inefficient and
fragile? Could an invitation to an authoritarian form of government be the answer to these
problems? And ultimately, is democracy still deemed applicable based on the current setting that
we have? At the end of these written contemplations, we might give not necessarily accurate but
more of approximate inferences before one may attribute the sociopolitical problems we have as
to the regime or the political portrait the country basically has. To wit on my approach, this is
simply a collective comparison of literature and few statistics as to how do these scholars
articulate on the features of democracy and its foreseen and existential repercussions in the
government. Political correctness, to begin with, should be determined not solely through
empirical appeals but more on the substantive figures and professionalized or scholarly
instruments that viably and intellectually attest to a certain clamor. Again, I would like the
readers of this paper to generally think of their perception on democracy should we proceed. On
the next pages, we try to infirm or confirm various political considerations.
Historical Background
It has been about two decades since democratic transition and consolidation have been
achieved in the Philippines. In the course of history, the Filipino people have mercilessly
expressed their resentments in the political repercussions that Marcos authoritarianism had
yielded to them. The restoration of democratic institutions in 1986 has been indeed a political
milestone which had flourished lots of substantive rights and privileges, as to electoral and
liberal foundations. Expounding on the nature of the latter components, respectively examined,
electoral democracy means the selection of political leaders through competitive elections which
are free, open, and fair while liberal democracy delves on the substantive framework of
democracy as such, it is indicated by certain characteristics real power as vested in the elected
3 Let us just assume the context as more of disciplinarian so as to avoid
terminological confusions.

Good Governance Review


officials and their appointees, executive power as constrained by the constitution and other
governmental bodies, groups which embrace constitutional principles are free to form political
parties and elections, flexible demarcations of political participation (that is, openness to
different sectors regardless of class, culture, ethnicity, or even religion), free press, freedom of
belief and expression, rule of law (that is, with emphasis to the existence of bill of rights), and
free association (Riedinger, n.d.; cited from Diamond, 1996, see also Dahl, 1971).
Just like the cardinal concessions of life, however, the transitional paradigms on the
emergence of democracy likewise faced certain predicaments which in turn compromised its
stability especially during its early stages. There were lots of coup attempts, insurgencies,
seditious tendencies, and other forms of destabilization which alarmed the realist foundations of
this political feature. These drawbacks, nevertheless, have been resolved through the features of
democracy per se that is, through elections. The latter has been instrumental in resolving
conflicts where questions of legitimacy are raised upon due premises (see Thompson, 1996). As
brought by these interventions, the highly active rebels mostly coming from the military and
upon the ratification of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which attested to the will of the
populace returned to the political arena and continued the lawful quest for [political] power.
The passage of events led to a smoother transition of regimes for instance, the neutral exchange
from Aquino to Ramos administration (1992) which is manifest until today with the
exception of Arroyo administration when there was an entrenchment of tenure from former
President Estrada which maximized Arroyos term.
Pulling the discussion to the contemporary stance, now that another Aquino is leading the
throne, and is about to end his term, increasing disquisitions about the veracity and utility of
democracy is stapled through various considerations. One of which shall be, and this is what this
paper will try to give light: Do we still need democracy? Or it is time to adjust the political
mechanisms in such a way that is rigid, strict, and less benevolent? Moreover, is it arguably
justifiable to attribute the failure of Philippine politics (in line of administrative ventures) to the
idea of democracy? In fact, Lee Kuan Yew once articulated the need for the Philippines to
institute a more authoritarian form of government. Citing the proposition, it would be better for
the country to establish a [strong] disciplinarian authority as the latter seems to put off more
necessity than the usual concessions stemmed through democracy. People tend to attribute high
criminalities, deadlock legislation, spoils and patronage, incompetent civil service, fraudulent

Good Governance Review


bureaucracy, faulty organization, even flawed judiciary, and non-resonant government services as
the complications of democracy.
This also explains why is there an increasing demand for a strong [disciplinarian]
leadership to be augmented in the Philippine government. This is evident on the current trend
inducing Mayor Rodrigo Dutertes run as for presidency prior to the 2016 Synchronized Local
and National Elections. As per social media hype and as per the pretensions of a significant
segment of the populace, what the Filipino people need is no longer democracy since people
tend [more or less ostensibly] to abuse it; hence, what should be constituted nowadays is a
(strong) disciplinarian authority which is concomitant to what the former has explicitly portrayed
on his stint as the mayor of Davao City.4
We could remarkably deduce how peoples perception has changed considering the
continuous flow of events. Without due expectations, it is very surprising to see how these
clamors have emerged. As such, one good example would be the sudden change of disposition
where most people have been mesmerized with Dutertes series of extra-judicial killings from
which he ostensibly killed criminals of highly considerable guilt. People once have been
confined to the idea of freedom and the imposition of human rights following the culmination of
martial law which actually aided the formation of democracy in the Philippines. But the
emergence of events which arguably triggered the emotions of the populace has led to the sudden
change of perspective. Inasmuch as we could discern, people tend to be concerned about
socioeconomic problems. In this sense, definitely, it shall embrace substantive interventions as to
social and economic domains. Who among the lower class and even a considerable portion of the
middle class are not concerned on the issues of poverty and rising number of crimes? Whilst
these factors are somehow interrelated, people succinctly look for a [new breed of] political
alternative specifically attributing a political actor who could viably address these concerns.
While this sustains the real picture, it could also be inferred that a certain portion of the
4 Perhaps, as we proceed, I can show you some statistical samples showing surveys
from which the official list of presidential candidates for the 2016 elections are
listed. For lesser margin of uncertainty, these chosen surveys typically have 4-digit
respondents. Although the major problem delves on the age bracket uncertainty, it
does not negate the social media hype that I am trying to discuss considering the
fact that these are generally reckoned as political attitudes. What we are trying to
decipher here is mainly the collective perception of the populace; thus, what the
surveys reflect.

Good Governance Review


electorate, even with the absence of statistical figures, has opened a gateway to patronage and
personality based political contest. This, as per my analysis, explains the contention of the people
as to the nature of their preferences. To quote Sisons (2015) pronouncements in explaining
Dutertes overwhelming political appeal:
What is even more surprising are the growing number of vocal supporters Duterte
has among the youth and the educated population. In my social circles alone, intelligent
friends are standing up to support this unlikely candidate. The sole member of a political
counterculture, Duterte's defiance and indifference to popular opinion are being
considered a breath of fresh air.5
Also, the fact that the Philippine politics continues to be personality-based that is,
marked by electoral fraud, violence, domination by the traditional elites, characterized by weak
parties and factionalism based primarily on personalities, and regional and linguistic identities
rather than on ideology (cited from Riedinger, n.d.) debilitates democracy as a political
institution. Moreover, as elucidated by Thompson (1996), despite the absence of a strong military
opposition (referring to democratic consolidation), there still comes the strong gap between
legitimacy and efficacy (democratic government and good government) which in turn might
flourish especially when economic predicaments and insufficiencies come to be perceived as
political crisis. In line with the latter sentence, since poverty appears both as political and
economic inquiries, it can be inextricably inferred that democracy as the populace attributes
through retrospect takes account on the economic indicators that fundamentally control the
states stability.
In the course of Philippine society and politics, people have expressed their hatred on the
growing margins of inequality especially with focus on poverty incidence (where, historically,
during the process of democratic transition in the Philippines (1985), about 49 percent of the
population was living below the poverty threshold). Although the economic figures have
somehow ascended, over 40 percent of the population still lived in poverty in 1994 (NEDA,
1998; cited from Riedinger, n.d.). Similarly, the persistent dilemma on unemployment incurred
over 9 percent on the period of democratic consolidation, not to mention the modest decline to 7
to 8 percent range in 1996-1997 (NEDA, 1998b; NSO, 1998; cited from Riedinger, n.d.),
5 Sison, Shakira (2015, December 10), #PHVote: Why is Duterte so appealing?
From Rappler; Read more at http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/115440-phvoteduterte-appealing, accessed December 14, 2015

Good Governance Review


opportunities to public office (militarization, spoils and patronage, and distorted civil service
competencies - that is, primarily inflicted by nepotism, graft and corruption, and other forms of
irregular practices), political polarization (partisan-based concessions and [seemingly
irreconcilable] ideological divides), monopolization of industries, rich vs. poor implied rivalry,
and corruption (too much papers might be used to exemplify various instances originating from
it). Apparently, these problems are still persistent until today. As of first semester of 2013, for
example, just to mention a few as the starting point, poverty incidence among Filipinos lodged at
24.9%. We can assert from this preliminary data that the figures have substantially improved
although these numbers still embody filthy empiricism when viewed in communal perspective.
In this angle, could one still purport the assumption that these cases were brought by troubled
democratic transition or it is merely on the disguise of poor administrative approaches? Not to
mention the existence of other problems mentioned hereof. Taking the discussion into a
structural approach would sound extremely complicated so what bears the foundation of this
literature specifically emanate on the rationalist point of view. Initially, straightforwardly, what
this paper will try to justify is the stance that democracy should not be the sole reason for this.
As a matter of fact, Filipinos stiffly benefit from democracy. It just happened that too
much freedom jeopardized its veracity. In a social setting like this, perhaps, one must have
considered the propensity of a systemic shift so as we could sustain not necessarily a freedombased politic but a more disciplined political landscape that values performance over personality.
To cite the pretensions of Christopher Ryan Maboloc (2012), a multi-awarded lecturer:
The Philippines as a nation is soaked in the blood of poor martyrs whose dream of
a free country has been rendered almost impossible by a systemic disease. We do not
even have a real representative form of government. The very requisites of a democratic
society free and fair elections, civil liberties and respect for human and economic
rights, are not enjoyed by the poor who constitute the majority in Philippine society.

Good Governance Review


It has been impliedly situated that shifting the mode from which the political concessions
arrive would drastically heal the sickness of the Philippine society.6 Some people actually
remarked that it is okay for the country to be subject of a strong government as long as the
latter could be deemed effective on its duty as the principal provider of basic goods and services.
Accordingly, the Filipino people are said to have enjoyed much of democracy that they ended up
abusing it; hence, a timely reevaluation of our democratic institutions is said to be necessary and
practical. But then the question remains: Does this debatably hyperbolic - enjoyment of
democracy had to take account on these predicaments? Or the foundations from which Philippine
democracy is situated are just lacking an appeal that is virtually vibrant and conducive?
In this paper, our main focus is to reveal some scholarly disquisitions, by specifically
rejecting as initially expounded in my introduction the direct relevance of democracy in line
with these issues. Faulty attributions, I would say, pose too much danger especially when these
issues are tackled after politics. To posthaste the glimpse, these parameters are basically
confined, and are theoretically true to any other modes of political mobilization, to the gestures
of behavioral, attitudinal, and constitutional features of a certain matter (Linz & Stepan, 1996;
cited from Riedinger, n.d.).
Democracy & Democratization
On the recent chapter, it was an inadvertent admission that the author failed to stress
some definitive parlance so as to make a streamlined commencement especially for those who
are not into the conceptual dynamics of political science. As to introduce the bone of contention,
accordingly, it would be more appealing to start the discussion using some definitions.
Democratization is basically and literally defined as the transition to a more democratic political
regime. It could be a whole round transition from an authoritarian regime to democracy or it
could also be a partial transition as such, the concept of quasi-authoritarian or quasi-democratic
political system comes along. The degree of democratization varies according to the set of waves
6 Later, as we move across other considerations, you will see the attachment of
modern statistics, both qualitative and quantitative so as to discretely and
concretely characterize these issues. What have you seen in this part are basically
statistics of the pre-90s era, wherein we are initially concerned on the historical
progression of democracy in the Philippines. To give further explanation to this
discourse, I would include here the semantic tone of this academic language that
is, the paradox of democracy.

Good Governance Review


where it originated. On the advent of democratization comes three distinct waves, the first wave
is considerably the strongest form in which it refers to states that acquired democracy for a long
time ago without any forms of obstruction; thus, is linked to ideal consolidation. An example
would be Sweden and England. Second wave imports those states that have had a historical
background of democracy although the difference is that second wave democratizers
fundamentally aim to reestablish the once lost democratic institutions in their respective
jurisdictions. Lastly, third wave democratizers pertain to those states that have a little or totally
absent experience of democracy. It purports the absence of historical precedents that would give
rise to a more definitive understanding of democracy. One example would be the Philippines.
The term imports not merely as a political parlance but it expounds on other factors such as
economic development, historical backgrounds, and civil society - that serve as its empirical
derivatives. The idea of democratization is to wield the manifestations postulated under a
democratic constitutional arrangement that is, the basic civil and political rights pondered
under, say, bill of rights.
Rose (1990) provided the essential elements for a country to legitimately democratize.
These elements include: The rule of law, civil society organizations, accountability, and free
elections. Indeed, if we based our viewpoint to the aforementioned considerations, one could
already establish the idea that the Philippines being the central figure of this literature had
[successfully] reestablished democracy that is, historically, by overthrowing Marcos
authoritarianism. It has been documented in various articles that democratization in the
Philippines was a product of Corazon Aquinos aspirations as for the reestablishment of electoral
democracy and, to a lesser degree of practice, liberal democracy. The by-products of democratic
transition in the Philippines is undeniably visible in such way that we have achieved the
inclusion of civil and political rights as enshrined upon the ratification of the 1987 Philippine
Constitution; hence, represents the existence of rule of law. Civil society institutions now also
play an integral part in policy-making even in direct political participation through the
imposition of party-list system which seeks to gain representation of the underrepresented sectors
of the society although we try to seek for answers concerning the efficacy of such. The spirit of
accountability is also stemmed as interconnected through the rule of law clause in such way
wherein public servants are required [by law] to submit their statement of assets, liabilities, and
net worth so as to discern particularly the gains in their properties within their tenure while on

Good Governance Review


the last part, the role of elections has been strongly augmented in the name of Philippine politics.
Philippine elections are conducted typically once every three and six years for national and local
echelons, respectively. Having these grounds, one could indisputably attest to cherish the cloud
of democracy as part of our daily political life. The only question, however, peeks on the
effectiveness of these elements when viewed in Philippine perspective. On other hand, having
mentioned the term democracy, does it differ from democratization to begin with? To a certain
degree, the answer would be a plain affirmative. Democracy, as we treat it as a distinct
terminology and as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, refers to a system of government
in which inhabitants in a community are involved in the decision making process usually
concerning the selection of leaders and policy consensus typically perpetrated through voting.
Ergo, the former intuitively refers to the process while the latter pertains to the product itself.
Political History
Historically speaking, as part of third world democratizers, Thompson (1996) inferred
that Philippine democracy is at its endangered status. Third world democratizers, as initially
explained above, implore relatively little or should one presuppose, total absence of democratic
experience making it potentially vulnerable to political drawbacks. The chaotic culmination of
authoritarianism in the Philippines following the end of Marcos regime led to wide scale
ideological cleavages which heavily threatened the Aquino administration. In fact, around eight
coup attempts have had emerged before Corazon Aquino was able to transfer the presidential seat
to an elected successor (Fidel Ramos). To cut the long sequence of events, Aquino administration
had basically weathered the storm through various interventions. Aside from using the inherent
feature of democracy in resolving issues of legitimacy, she also utilized a more tangible and
tactical way not necessarily for democratic subsistence but more of preserving the personalistic
nature, though not in dictatorial spirit, of her regime. To attain political survival, Aquino had to
compromise the originally envisioned image of democracy she was trying to proliferate. That is,
she yielded to the demands of the upper class, utilized the military, and took substantive
intervention on issues beleaguering the landscape especially by placating the issue on U.S.
military bases. It has been markedly exemplified that Marcos utilized America in order to
somehow attain efficacy in mechanizing national affairs. Since the Filipino people were under
collective outrage, what utterly comprised their demands was the abolition of Marcos regime per
se. From which, upon assumption of office, Aquino basically performed acts that virtually

Good Governance Review


obliterated all the provisions set by Marcos.7 Thus, the latter appeared to present Aquinos
operational definition of democracy. Democracy is often equated into peace and a considerable
installment of equality as what its ethos represent but then, the situational approaches of
Aquino in restoring the institutions compensating democracy had somehow been jeopardized
when she decided to overturn militarization. Although we all understand that pacification
schemes are necessary for her to have the breathing space, the actuations she had induced
actually put democracy in a distorted angle. Lastly, the prevention of radical reforms especially
of agrarian furthered the idealist notions of democracy by yielding to the whims and caprices of
the elites. As the plan implies, she basically utilized the major industries as trade-offs. The name
of the game is privatization. The elites indeed have enjoyed the limelight of public ownership
although it was said to have set the most dangerous aspect amongst her acts. It is said to have
largely widened the ever-existing demarcation line between the stratified classes of the
[Philippine] society.
In political history and economic vantage point, one could not simply blame Aquino for
what she had done considering the fact that the Philippine economy was at its dimmest phase
upon such occurrence. If Aquino refused to induce submissions to elitists demands, they could
have been consolidated into a consortium so as to overthrow the regime; thus, would lead to
further mishaps. One key for a successful revolutionary movement is that there shall be an
overwhelming support coming from the upper classes of the society. But then, political analysis
suggests that Aquino could have took advantage of the United States to act in aid of economic
recuperation rather than what she had strategized. Her act of placating the issue on military bases
somehow neutralized the situation but it did not provide direct significance to incorporate the
real intentions of public service. These interventions led to a neutral succession of regimes when
her power had relinquished. Democratic transition was indeed successful on the absence of
further drawbacks but apparently, it fell short of what is considered to be a consolidated
democracy. Democratic legitimacy, should we say, has been effectively taking roots but it does
not indicate generally inscribed acceptance considering the filthy politics that we have nor it does
7 To clarify, Aquino did not directly oust the military bases set by the United States.
In lieu thereof, she strategically delayed the decision regarding such issue in order
to insure the support coming from U.S. and at the same time, to serve as a
pacifying mechanism to the collective outrage spurred upon the early to mid-stages
of her administration.

Good Governance Review


merely go beyond the substantive and procedural aspects given the non-existence of sound
progress. Moreover, in political perspective, Thompson (1996) elucidated that Aquino, as a
personal attribution, failed to settle the question on the type of government that would reign
following Marcos era. Having mentioned, democracy was said to have only emerged
characteristically but not categorically. Perhaps, this has augmented the degree of confusion
experienced by the people upon those times which is said to have resonated the contemporary
period.
Additionally, after all, people are not simply concerned about the political system. What
pose the general concern are those aspects that move beyond politics that is, economic
development. People tend to be primarily concerned with their economic standing while
secondarily attributing the political landscape when they notice stagnant or negatively stationary
progression as to quality of life. Fundamentally, the very importance of including a pigment of
political history throughout the discussion is to highlight the theoretical premises from which
these problems, as logically assumed, take place. Also, it has a political bearing by simply
reckoning the incumbent who is also an Aquino.
Conversely, the aforementioned historical account is just one of the possible explanations
to expound on the advent of democratization in the Philippines. On the other hand, and perhaps
this could be one of the most general elucidations for this matter, one could also take not of the
issue of colonial mentality. Father Gorospe in his The Filipino Search for Meaning (1974: 425;
as cited by Maboloc, 2012) once articulated that the democratic form of government that we
inherited from the United States was something of a foreign attribution and imposition and does
not take a significant bearing in defining Philippine political history. It simply did not grow as if
it is an original democratic empiricism. In addition, Hutchcroft and Rocamora (2003) wrote:
Aquino saw her primary duty as restoring the structures of pre-Martial Law
democracy. Despite the major changes, the political system that Aquino reconstructed
with the 1987 constitution restored many political institutions that can be traced to the
1935 constitution most importantly a presidential form of government that went back to
the political system built by the American colonial authorities and Filipino leaders.
As implied by its categorical confinement as a third-wave democratizer, such situation is
already expected. This made Philippine politics as a constant struggle a futile conflict between
the throne-holders and the disadvantaged. Moreover, as explained by Maboloc (2012), the
Philippines have a tyranny of leaders typically coming from the ruling class. These persons have

Good Governance Review


been able to establish their names in the landscape through economic ascendancy that they ended
up to be the common (sometimes, intermittent) actors in the sphere. This, as per contention,
explains why majority of Filipinos continuously face a miserable experience as to the quality of
life.
Apparently, these reasons are just a glimpse in explaining the defects of Philippine
democracy. The last narrative, I would say, could be the closest rationale possible under due
premises. But to correlate it to the modern timeframe, we could consider browsing the
conventional features of a democracy is practiced in the Philippines and how does it influence
the landscape as a whole.
Socialization
While it has been presumably documented in history scriptures that rather than explicit
narratives backward democracy was a result of poor decision making in the government, we
might consider diverting our analysis into individual level and perhaps, in a more
contemporary timeframe. In sociological vantage point, what could be these circumstantial
challenges that impede democracy from reaching its ideal ends?
Elections
The right to suffrage is an integral feature in a democratic society. It encompasses the
[constitutional] right of the populace to engage not only on electing who shall lead, but also
enabling them to propose and decide for policies being advanced by a governmental body, a
legislative body in this case. While the previous notion is politically correct, the function of
elections itself is very crucial in determining the next path of the state. Various electoral years
have passed and the ambiguous political culture in the Philippines truly manifest upon
multifarious roots. The Philippines may have achieved the historical transitions necessary to
attain a somehow legitimate democracy but it does not necessarily translate to democratic
efficacy. This means that the features of democracy may be there but it does not follow the
idealistic premise that its components are virtually abided and ideologically institutionalized. The
electoral system in the Philippines is reportedly fraudulent. Such is evident not only on the postMarcos times, but even during the modern timeframe.
According to Rivera (2010), the Philippines has the longest history of electoral politics in
Asia but the seemingly normative manifestations of fraud have had always been a predominant
factor resonating the integral features of this system. The Philippine electorate had baffled

Good Governance Review


through the culmination of 2004 and 2007 elections when there were reportedly large scale
manipulations. To stress the facts, the former, involving the electoral battle between the former
President and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the late Fernando Poe
Jr., was utterly controversial as it revealed various contentions questioning the validity of
Arroyos victory, not to mention the existence of the Hello-Garci scandal. Until the 2010
elections, although the degree of uncertainty had significantly been abated, there still come these
technical shortcomings which turned to [inappreciably] affect the credibility of the PCOS
machines as instrumentalities for honest and accountable polls.
Conversely, one of the imperative exigencies for a regime to be reckoned democratic is
that it should be able to institutionalize a stable electoral system. To wit, for it to garner that level
of legitimacy, it must at least hold three elections accompanied by a smooth transition to an
elected successor in case of loss on the part of the administrations slate. The third election is
simply an affirmation of its stability. Moreover, its substantive requisites also suggest it to be
free, fair, and competitive.
To dwell on the historical grassroots, the indications of fraudulence and the absence of
benevolent intervention on the electoral process have been reflected from the postwar era up to
the present. The existence of violence has always been the name of the game of Philippine
politics. For example, during the 1946 elections, the supporters of Manuel Roxas had raised
threats of uprising should he lost the polls. In 1949, in the fraudulent electoral contest between
Jose P. Laurel and Elpidio Quirino, the former never conceded defeat. In 1953, with a similar
stride, Magsaysays supporters insinuated threats of coup dtat if he did not win. In 1961, there
was this threat of open violence when President Carlos P. Garcia decided not to pose the
presidency to Diosdado P. Macapagal (Rivera, 2010; cited from Timberman, 1991:40-41).
Furthermore, the cultural anchorage of electoral violence and manipulation in the premartial law period came at its peak during the 1969 presidential elections where it centered on
the re-election campaign of Ferdinand Marcos. At this phase, the guns, goons, and gold (3Gs)
element came into large scale dominion.
Taking these narratives into account, the restoration of democratic institutions in 1987,
however, did not put an end to this seemingly unending voodoo of electoral crises, although it
had definitely spurred improvements as to the manner in which our leaders get to be installed in
their respective posts. As previously articulated by Rivera (2010), 2004 and 2007 elections serve

Good Governance Review


as ever living examples of a deliberate and systematic projects of electoral manipulation and
fraud. Apparently, the inception of automated elections in the country specifically during the
2010 polls may be a good start for a new echelon of electoral conduct in the country although
one could not deny the presumption that it has given rise to a new array of mishaps and
apprehensions that have not been totally resolved (even for the 2016 elections) despite
affirmative evaluations of the COMELEC.
Under democratic systems, elections function as a convenient and practicable way of
resolving conflicts (typically appertaining to legitimacy issues of a regime) without bloodshed
and violence (Przeworski, 1998:113; cited from Rivera, 2010). In fact, election was very
instrumental in allowing former President Corazon Aquino to regulate the political pressure
compounded by massive coup attempts. It also acted as a pacifying device which in turn allowed
her to transpose political power to an elected successor. Elections, as I have initially discussed,
endow legitimacy to the elected officials and make them accountable for their actions in the
public realm by their constituents (Schmitter & Karl, 1991:76; cited from Rivera, 2010).
However, the experiences per se of the Philippines under these electoral periods made this
rationale foiled into scrutiny. That is, to give the readers a good example, elections in many
provinces and municipalities are persistently blanketed by the indiscriminate use of violence,
wide range intimidation, and monetary or even coercive inducements.
Rivera (2010) also narrated that in 2010, Monina Arevalo-Zearosa, a retired Associate
Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA) and was the Chairperson of the Independent Commission
Against Private Armies (ICAPA), highlighted the widespread activity of private armies in various
provincial [and even regional] jurisdictions. These armies are said to be controlled by powerful
politicians with intact coordination with the police and the military.
In the 15 provinces with the highest number of PAGs, the estimated members of
active PAGs range from a low of 39 and 40 in Nueva Ecija and Palawan, to highs of 700
and 1,496 in Basilan and Maguindanao, respectively. More people get killed in electionrelated violence during election years compared with the casualties incurred in the armed
conflict between the government and its protagonists in the same years. Combined with
this widespread use of violence and coercion during elections is another structural
constraint on the ability of citizens to freely cast their vote.
Should one ask a relative question, what could be the most realistic rationale(s) to these
phenomena? The most practical interpretation could be the existing socioeconomic conditions in
the Philippines. The prevailing conditions of widespread poverty and [sociopolitical]

Good Governance Review


powerlessness succinctly wield dismissive propensities which in turn make the people vulnerable
to these kinds of vote manipulation and other undesirable inducements. Having a full
understanding of these issues, one key to address the structural deficiencies of the electoral
system could be the induction of institutional reforms that would effectively respond to these
predicaments whilst amelioration of human life [from poverty] is another point of concern. In
this regard, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) would be the closest point of reference.
Interestingly, a study on the COMELEC suggests the premise of three-pronged
pathology. These pathological considerations are said to explain the stiff defects from which
this institution has been constantly suffering. The first pathological influx talks about the
externally-motivated clientelistic relationship that is, a patron seeks the support of a client
within the commission for the purpose of securing advantageous electoral repercussions. The
aforementioned case on the wiretapped phone conversation between former President Arroyo
and former COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano serves as its best example. The second
nexus refers to internal clientelistic relationship. In this regard, the patron is intrinsically
involved within the bureaucracy and the clients aim to occupy subordinate posts on the same
board; thus, we can conceptualize it as the bureaucratic inside job; while the third pathology
explicates the COMELECs organizational inefficiency and lack of capacity. During the 2010
automated elections, the first in the Philippine electoral history, the context can be best illustrated
through the insistence of the same to proceed with automation notwithstanding the conspicuous
existence of technical shortcomings and the absence of compliance to the normative guidelines
of its procedural dynamics organizational and technical capability.
Having mentioned such mishaps, the COMELEC had to outsource by utilizing an
external nexus, Smartmatic, just to ensure the practicability of the automation. But taking into
account the institutional incapacity and technical sophistication to facilitate the process, the
COMELEC was categorically evaluated of a gross failure to address the roots of these concerns.
Although the COMELEC had attained, at a certain degree, institutional subsistence considering
the fact that they were able to go throughout the process and eventually able to come up with a
timely declaration, it does not negate the fact that the former, as an institution accountable for
fair and immaculate elections, had more to improve towards significant conditioning of the
system.

Good Governance Review


To give the COMELEC some of imperative reservations, we, the electorate, should not
integrally put the anticipation to the former as it only embodies the function of facilitating the
elections. What comes beyond the process of molding the electorate behavioral inducements,
for instance - should not be antecedent of their responsibility as an institution. Political and
electoral motivations generally have different foundations although these two are intimately
confined especially during election periods. Additionally, even the COMELEC gets to perfect the
automation system, it will only address some aspects of electoral fraud. It may be able to address
the faade of the problem so as to look abated or should we say minimized but it does not
produce a larger effect on the guise of compromised voters registration lists and the infamous
culture of vote buying.
Personality Politics
Various scholars have raised concerns pertaining to the efficacy of Philippine elections as
particularly viewed on the communal and individualist perspective. The voters are said to have
possessed multifarious contentions which in turn shape their political conviction on who are they
going to vote. Conversely, this point hereby renders some explanations to validate or to affirm
some of the most practicable hypotheses in view of the foregoing disquisitions. The central
discussion heretofore revolves on the existential dynamism of personality politics. It has become
an intrinsic issue, at least assuming on my part, that the significantly observable attitude of most
voters to attribute the dominant political discourses in narrow terms like evaluating an
individual candidate based on the latters characteristics and personal ties comes as a fragile
standard of competitive politics. It does not necessarily follow that the tangible presentation of a
candidate as to the way he or she extends his or her existence to the commonplace should be the
fundamental source of political conviction. In fact, it is a common jargon in the Philippines to
colloquially label a candidate as a traditional politician (trapo) by doing such things. Without
prejudice to any of the candidates, for 2016 elections to make it less distant to the actual
discussion, candidates like Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, and even Grace Poe (to
mention a few) (for President), as well as Leni Robredo (for Vice President), have graciously
appraised their images by projecting a personality that could get the best appeals possible so as to
maximize their chances in their respective tracks. Mar Roxas had once assimilated himself
through his Mr. Palengke, Jejomar Binay by labeling himself as the champion of the poor,
Rodrigo Duterte (although not necessarily of a trapo) who projects himself as an ironman which

Good Governance Review


manifests an unconventional approach to proliferate his ambitious edges, Grace Poe who seems
to take into account the advent of necropolitics as situated from the Death of his late father,
Fernando Poe Jr. while Leni Robredo, as to vice presidency, similarly establishes her benevolent
image by acknowledging the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. Leni, so far, satisfies such
projection invoking the virtue of integrity as the underlying positive credential although critics
get to question her capacity insofar as her experiences are put into scrutiny. Likewise, Grace Poe
not to mention her disqualification case faces such predicament whereas critics tend to put
her competence into boiling cushion. These candidates (all if we base it into a larger extent) have
their own projections that embellish their personalities as the faade of their electoral objectives.
Apparently, having mentioned these examples, electorates tend to be swayed by these
circumstances. To dig on the past, one could see the dynamic pattern of necropolitics in the
Philippine political landscape. One good example would be the Aquinos. Historically speaking, it
could be noted that one major factor that allowed Corazon Aquino to get into the presidency was
the assassination of Benigno Ninoy Aquino whereas the Filipinos were at collective outrage.
Consequently, such circumstance had generated tremendous sympathy from the commonplace to
the point that Corazon Aquino won the race notwithstanding the continuous attempts of the late
President Marcos to maneuver the election results. Such observation has become persistent until
the 2010 Presidential Elections when Corazon Aquino died several months before the electoral
year. The emotional commemoration of the Filipinos on the death of the latter, reckoned to be the
Mother of Democracy, seemed to give rise for Benigno Aquino III, and now the incumbent
president, to seek for Presidency notwithstanding his notable insignificance during his
legislative occupancy (Senate).
As we could observe from this scenario, one could generate this complementing
conclusion that the pattern from which these situations have emerged embodies a circumstantial
touch. Filipinos tend to be swayed by the passage of events. In sociological vantage point,
Filipinos tend to have a soft spot for people who have been aggravated or depressed as rooted
from their experiences. And sequentially, such sociological attachment has become prevalent to
the extent that it reached the political touchstone.
On the other side, Sidel (1998) articulated on the two functions of personality in the
political system. One of which is that personality functions as a residual category of which
context has become instrumental in representing the structural and/or normative foundations of

Good Governance Review


Philippine politics. It vividly manifests in such setting where the electoral competition does not
revolve around class or group cleavages and/or where the parties are weak and fluid. Sidel also
added that Philippine politics has something to do with nothing more or less than individuals
rather than those aspects appertaining to the idealist pedagogies of politics that is, through
broad range of interests and ideologies. Secondly, personality acts as a mechanizing agent by
which politicians expressly and practically attempt to secure something of a hold thus, a
power-seeking instrument. Methodologically, these power seekers get to materialize their agenda
through money, muscle (metaphorically pertaining to linkages that would yield to various
forms of inducement), and machine manpower both tangible and intangible components that
are essential to electoral victory.
As to its democratic relevance, democracy, in its strict sense, is empowered with the
function of elections. As stated in the previous pages, its rudimentary exigencies include fair,
free, and open elections. Ergo, if the electoral system in a particular jurisdiction is doomed
Philippine landscape, in this case the instrumental value of elections as a vital partition of
democracy might jeopardize the system per se, in general, which may accrue the proliferation of
political conflicts especially when institutional management comes to be perceived as a state
crisis. The way of thinking of the significant portion of the electorate also poses a definitive area
of concern. Insofar as the voters tend to evaluate the candidates only on the frontline, our
political system will not reach that degree of sophistication and would only aggrandize this
unending cycle of bossism, clientelist and patronage politics, and of other sociologically-inclined
considerations that do not compensate political correctness, so to speak.
Voting Behavior
It has been explained in the previous topic the relevance of personality in shaping
Philippine politics. In line thereof, it has been situated that political maturity (with emphasis to
the way of thinking) is concomitant to the outcomes of the system especially when viewed in
broader and diverse timeframes. However, such clamor shall be sprouted with some reservations.
Although the advent of personality politics is categorically disappointing, at some point, we
could not blame some Filipinos who get to be swayed by these circumstances not to mention
the contentious educational and socioeconomic gaps. Some Filipinos are influenced,
successively or simultaneously, both by intrinsic and extrinsic conditions.

Good Governance Review


Schaffer (2007) provided at least four circumstances that elucidate the categorical
confinements acting as both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for vote-buying behavior. First
factor delves on the short-term economic need. This is usually seen in the context of the portion
of electorates succumbed into poverty. The inherent and logical vulnerability of the poor voters
to the whims and caprices of these politico-economic elites play as a vibrant advantage since this
petty pecuniary or material gift would yield immediate impact to the individual or even as to
familial benefit. Straightforwardly, the bottom line here is subsistence.
The second is the intrinsic fear of retaliation should that voter voted otherwise, or worse,
the propensity of such coercive inducement should that voter declined the offer. Although some
of the organizations, through voters education, and exclusive of such instances, to promptly get
the offer and vote for the candidate that they truly desire, it does not necessarily follow that this
situation can easily be maneuvered with such method. The critical consideration dwells on the
presence of the poll watchers. The third premise delves on the feelings of personal obligation.
This comprises the cultural proclivities of the Filipinos. In a sociological vantage point, the
notion of utang na loob implores the context. It typically originates to the vote brokers who may
be acquaintances, familial connections, or even local officials who have once served that coterie
or even a single constituent. The fourth, and I would say the worst articulation for this part, is the
assumption that vote buying is a form of benevolent expression which is usually mistakenly
interpreted as a sign of virtue that the candidate cares. Based on the expository, one could deduce
the characteristic of the Filipino electorate, particularly on the lower strata, as highly personal
and irrational. Peoples political conviction tends to be influenced by external factors causing
their electoral actuations to be swayed by mere inducements.
As we attempt to give viable explanations to theoretically address the omnipotence of the
issue, Schaffer (2007) articulated the correlation of supply and demand so as to show the
dynamics of these vote buying phenomena. As such, demand-side reforms, hereinafter referred to
as the ethical and educational play of orienting the electorate on the perils of vote buying,
practically revolved around programs of voters education. The objective is indeed fascinating by
retrospect although the striking concern hits on the determinability of its objective according to
its preponderance since the ramifications of such program to the voters cannot simply be
measured of mere quantitative indicators neither of empirical analysis. In this sense,
approximations and mere observations may only be practicably applied.

Good Governance Review


Apparently, a reason might be attributed on the advent of sociopolitical meiosis. That is,
the electorate tends to underestimate the social pressures and expectations driven by vote-selling.
In my personal vantage point, this is probably because the community does not utter much
condemnation whenever such practice manifests. The electorate does not have that inordinate
degree of passion to strongly criticize the [indirect] atrocity of these officials bearing the
assumption of effortless assimilation. On the other hand, the electorates from remote areas do not
have the courage - but we should not blame them for that - to divulge the prevalent wrongdoings
during elections. It is either because they are in dire need of subsistence or because of the degree
or the type of inducement tied to them. Meanwhile at urban poor, at a certain degree of practice
and to a considerable degree of theory, candidates in both national but less as compared to local
jurisdictions are not having that degree of difficulty aggregating the electorate since most
people seem to enjoy these pecuniary and materialistic showers during campaign periods. This
indulgence had gone too far to the extent that it has almost become a political norm.
Conversely, as to supply-side reforms, the latter takes focus on the installation of political
and constitutional modifications (i.e. increasing the size of electoral constituencies to make vote
buying expensive). Notwithstanding these policy interventions, the results have always been
inconclusive for these candidates are able to strategically alter their vote-buying mechanisms.
In other countries, the predicament of vote-buying has been abated through governmental
response on the effective enforcement of laws that prohibit and punish such acts. A model place
would be Taiwan where there were dramatic entrenchments on the implementation of laws
squarely applicable to election-related offenses. As a matter of fact, the official who foreran the
campaign, Ma Ying-Jeou, is now the incumbent President. The latter conducted really vigorous
campaign in 1993 (by the time he was appointed as the justice minister). In relation thereof,
during his stint, hundreds of politicians including those from his political party (KMT) have
been investigated and prosecuted. This only goes to portray the fact that a strong political will
goes places. Likewise, this proceeds to justify the practicability of the politics-administration
dichotomy. Institutional augmentations are indeed a necessity to outnumber cases relative to
electoral fraud, deception, and intimidation. And for this to materialize, the presence of a
courageous political player has to take place.
The Duterte Magic

Good Governance Review


In support to the political and cultural foundations of our discourse, we might consider
taking up the increasing favors spurred by the Filipinos to the presidential aspirant, Rodrigo
Duterte. Personally, I find it significant to include it as a sub-topic mainly because of these
reasons: 1) Duterte appears to be the future dictator of the Philippine landscape a notion far
from the idealist and realist premise of democracy. Also, despite such manifestations and
expressionist grounds of political counterculture, the Filipino electorate had expressed their
overwhelming acceptance to the former; 2) Does this support indicate a change of disposition on
the part of the Filipinos? It appears that these supporters are willing to surrender their rights as
mustered under a democratic regime for the attainment of peace and order. One proof would be
the astonished foresight following his revelations concerning his involvements in the
perpetuation of extra-judicial killings to criminals in Davao; and 3) Would this seemingly
another chapter of authoritarian rule be the solution to all forms of political crisis? Although
some have markedly assumed Dutertes pronouncements as verbally hyperbolic, a prominent
statement of which came from another presidential candidate (Miriam Santiago), most of the
supporters seem to be open for it, should he win. It is like purporting the common political cry,
discipline over democracy.
To further expound on the wisdom behind the inclusion of this subject, Shakira Sison
(2015), a column writer from Rappler wrote:
Along with the other stars of the current election circus, I tried to discount
Rodrigo Duterte as a viable candidate. I could not believe that a person so abrasive could
ever get close to leadership on the national level. For a moment I forgot that this is the
Philippines we are talking about, where ridiculousness in politics has become the norm.
I wouldn't vote for Duterte nor recommend that others do so, for the simple reason
that there is no place in public office for an admitted and unrepentant murderer who vows
to kill more people to establish his goals. In fact, Duterte vows to kill 100,000 more
people when he is elected. "Youll see a lot of fat fish in Manila Bay," is one of his
quotable quotes that caused Amnesty International to raise red flags on his candidacy.
He is a sleazy womanizer who proudly leads with an iron first, famously making a
tourist eat his cigarette after being caught smoking in a public space. He heads the Davao
Death Squad that "cleans" the streets of "criminals," making Davao City the envy of other
cities when it comes to peace and order, never mind the resulting death toll of 1,700 to
achieve it.
Yet Digong now tops the polls with a 62 percent approval in the economic classes
A, B, and C, 37 percent in Class D and 32 percent in Class E.
Some parts omitted.

Good Governance Review


For us to gain a preliminary justification of this support that we are talking about, the
following graphs are screenshots captured from Rappler.8

On the latters SMS survey, 40% of the respondents still prefer the Davao City mayor for
the presidency. The survey, accordingly, was conducted among Globe prepaid subscribers
conducted from December 18-31, 2015. The respondents, however, do not represent a statistical
sample but most of them are female, belonging to mostly low-income strata, and are located
outside Metro Manila.

8 Facebook polls conducted by Rappler from December 22 to 31 last year revealed


the landslide advantage of Duterte over the rest of the presidential candidates,
followed by Miriam Santiago who garnered 17% of the aggregate votes.

Good Governance Review


On the last part, this screenshot is a social media poll currently being conducted by
Rappler which will run from Jan. 15-31, 2016. So far, the results are consistent. Duterte got a
vote of more than 33,000 users largely far from the second contender, Miriam Santiago who only
got more than 5,000 votes.

Having cited these statistics, I would like to reiterate that this does not indicate
statistically reliable findings since the age bracket is purely uncertain although the factual
significance lies on the premise as a logical reflection of the foregoing political attitudes of the
Filipinos as to their perception to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Of all these figures, one thing can be
inferred Duterte has, so far, successfully captivated the minds of the electorate. To proceed into
a more comprehensive discourse relative to the possible postulations for this case, the line of
questioning here would be: Why is Duterte so appealing? (Not necessarily charismatic) and what
could be the pertinent reasons for this seemingly unconventional disposition of the Filipinos.
Rapplers observations reveal the common commentaries from Facebook as well from their SMS
polls:

Duterte no matter what happened!

#DU30

#DuterteWithMyWholeFamily

#DUTERTEAKO

Criminal minded at may criminal na relatives, ayaw kay Duterte siyempre

Good Governance Review

Voted and shared! Hope we get more votes in and For the sake of the whole
nationChange the political landscape of the Philippines, Economic progress,
OFWs, Rural Development, Food & Healthcare Security Duterte tayo!

Duterte para patay mga drug lord, Duterte para matakot at mawala ang mga
di gumagawa ng mabuti sa lipunan talamak na kc ang mga krimen sa ating
bansa, and Duterte masyado ng matigas ulo ng filifino kaya kailangan ng
kamay na bakal hindi yong puro bait at ganda lang ng salita.

Dutertes pronouncements about law enforcement, being tough with criminals and drug
traffickers

mesmerizingly

captivate

his

current

[and

even

potential]

supporters.

Straightforwardly, there seems to be a fundamental connection between his words and the
democratic premise of the contemporary that is, corruption in the government (inclusive of
other forms) and sources of insecurity are the salient manifestations invoking the incremental
destruction of the present-time democratic regime. Apparently, this collective hype induces a
sudden change of disposition even on the part of the supporters of other candidates. As indicated
by the circumstantial dynamics, one might traverse political support to Duterte over other
candidates since Duterte, characteristically speaking, seems to show a countercultural approach
in assimilating the electorate which surprisingly earned enthusiastic turnabouts. These
sentiments may reflect the general frustrations of the people toward our leaders especially in
these times but its veracity as a viable factor of altering or overhauling the conventional
electoral results remains as the underlying thesis.
Undeniably, Dutertes appeal has been a ground of a prima facie case in which the people
see him as a breathing space of the nations collapsing sphere and indeed, he is able to set a
benchmark that would be a potential political (less direct as to electoral) threat to his rivals.
Ultimately, his distant character in comparison to the projected attitudes of the traditional
politicians seems to support his political stance. In accordance to various pronouncements,
Duterte gets to induce more appeal for the fact that he does not give any attribution of what do
other people think about him. Remarkably, he fearlessly revealed his pastimes like of being a

Good Governance Review


womanizer and as to his other actuations which recently interestingly astonished the Facebook
community although the story is still uncertain.
For the purpose of exemplification, Duterte reportedly went personally before an alien
(who was said to be sojourning Davao) after the former received a complaint that the latter was
smoking in the area. Duterte threatened the alien to either eat the cigarette puff or he will put him
in prison. Such example is, with the assumption of certainty, evident of his political will as a law
enforcer and in larger sense, possibly, the next chief executive of the country.
On the last note, some critics are creating the stance that Dutertes politics hones a
possibly dictatorial regime should he take the presidential spot.
We all know about the dangers of violent dictatorships led by charismatic leaders
who believe that order must be achieved at any human cost. We have had forty years to
remember and suffer its continuing effects, and will be subjected even longer to those
who refuse to remember its horrors.9
However, as my personal vantage point, I would say that such pronouncement does not
really flourish the development of another series of authoritarian leadership. Evaluating the
theoretical consideration of authoritarian shift does not insinuate any relevance considering that
the nature of democracy primarily dwells on the electoral and the exercise of liberal rights as
established upon the constitution no removal of such democratic concession so far has been
augmented. Ergo, his actuation of instituting an ironclad leadership is merely an expression of
his political will. Moreover, it is believed that the Philippines needs more discipline rather than
what democracy already has provided. The increasing statistics of criminalities, corruption, and
other forms of evil just debilitate democracy as a political institution. Such attribution is
therefore faulty and might just give a dangerous disposition of how we define Philippine politics,
in general should we evaluate it based on the prevailing empiricism. Following that line of
argument, we can deduce that the problem of Philippine politics cannot be simply attributed to
democracy. In fact, we have largely benefited to the extent that we have dismissively unleashed
its communal capacity. It just happened that the underlying system therefrom serves as jeopardy
a potential threat that might blemish its credibility as an instrument of human amelioration.
9 Ibid.

Good Governance Review


Democracy in the Philippines: What Went Wrong?
A sound variable that puts the question of efficacy of, not only in the Philippines, most
democratic institutions is the comparative manifestation(s) of socioeconomic progress. For
example, Democracy may be good as to the perpetration of elections as well as the invocation of
both civil and political rights through constitutional arrangements (since it inherently embodies
its two-fold characteristics) but as to its potential of translating political consolidation into
progressive advancement of human life creates another leeway of scrutiny.
With the presumption of mere theoretical articulation, Maboloc (2012) explained that the
root cause of Philippine poverty is its dysfunctional democracy. It has been stressed that many of
our democratic institutions have virtually failed to deliver basic [goods and] services to the
ordinary people. Conversely, Maboloc further expressed the need for the Filipinos to actually
construe the importance of democracy not only as an intrinsic factor but as to its instrumental
imperatives (Sen, 1999; Sachs, 2005; cited by Maboloc, 2012). It is equally important to say that
people empowerment and the protection of basic rights are linked to foster the function of
democracy as a mechanism and a source of opportunity to promote their well-being.
To wit the clamor, Maboloc claimed that the failure of Philippine democracy can be best
attributed based on social conflict theory that is, the seemingly irreconcilable divide between
master and slave. Furthermore, Pareto (1902) acknowledged the fact that social inequality is a
result not necessarily solely applicable in the Philippine setting of man as a biological
phenomenon. He further argued that all humans differ, not only in their behavior, but also in their
interests, abilities, aptitude, and capacities. Thus, human nature elicits a role in the conduct of
political struggle and the reformation of societies. In a philosophical vantage point, people are
basically driven by extrinsic forces such as religion, or any alternative from which intrinsic
motivations appear i.e. intelligence. It is in this manner that the community similar to
Spanish colonialism in the Philippines has experienced the manner by which subjugations
perpetuated by friars toward the natives took place; while in contemporaneous narrative, this is
likewise manifested by the manner in which political dynasties take dominion over provincial
jurisdictions. Having mentioned these philosophical [and historical] accounts, those who employ
dominance over the political structure similarly possesses ample control over the economic

Good Governance Review


system all at the expense of the lower strata of the society. Conversely, politicians practically
entrench client-patron relationships so as for these political [and economic] elites to easier come
up with career aggrandizement.
Moreover, Mosca (1896) explained the ways and means by which an individual or group
of persons can succeed or fail in entrenching supreme power over the society and by
preventing the efforts of other individuals to supersede them (cited by Maboloc, 2012). Mosca
further argued that people constantly engage in a competitive struggle just like in game theory
where there could be winners and inevitable losers who either get to expose greater desires to
attain power and wealth or to be overthrown at its entirety to a state of no gain. This pattern
maintains that the triumphant faction becomes the ruling class either because they have proved
themselves to be the stronger division or through coercive inducements or benevolent
assimilation, although the methodical conventions of indirect or implied domination takes place.
Big corporations control not only our natural resources, but also our human
resources. Big corporate names employ our intelligent graduates, but the working classes
are mere instruments for the wealthy to amass huge piles of cash enough for them to land
in the Forbes' list of the wealthiest.

Moving into a more concrete discourse, another factor could jive on political patronage.
Patronage plays a huge role in perpetuating and converting the aspirations of these political
actors into [political] power. It has become very instrumental so as for them to secure or to at
least make the race for such post easier. Most notably, this is through the joint efforts of both
political and economic power brokers. In this case, there goes the existence of client-patron
relationship as a typical framework of Philippine politics.
While our foreign conquerors have left us a long time ago, those to whom they
entrusted the government of this nation continued to take advantage of their privileged
position while keeping the poor [under] miserable condition, forever without a voice nor
the strength to assert themselves. Majority of the poor look up to their elected officials
with high esteem and are unmindful of the fact that they are simply token pawns in the
whole concept of political bargaining.

Good Governance Review


The change of approach in the perpetuation of public service such as the cementation of
public roads, for example has been instrumental in attesting such relationship. To further
exemplify, suppose that a business conglomerate helped a particular candidate in securing
victory or at least financing the electoral campaign of the latter, and to such regard, the candidate
won. Subsequently, there inevitably comes the reciprocal relationship which has to be manifested
by that politician to the brokers who helped him to make the victory possible. In that sense, the
degree of intervention would be through lobbying. In which, these business conglomerates would
intervene to the policy-making or other deliberations that would give beneficial ramifications to
their respective business stalls. The businessmen might suggest the construction or rehabilitation
of public roads that will increase the accessibility of the establishment so as to drive the residents
of whatever proximity in a given set of geographical location. Or, we could put it in the
perspective of satisfying the essential economic opportunity for the residents by focusing on road
construction the betterment of local roads since improved pathways would equate into
convenience that consequently encourage the ascendancy of investors. In a country like the
Philippines, the concept of human development is categorically less western-oriented that is,
the infrastructural conditions and other forms that appear to make the setting modernized.
Moreover, the parameter of human development in these areas dwells through means of
subsistence that is, for example, primarily delving on employment issues. Should the
constituents get to have jobs, the demand for the authority to provide them better living
conditions can be translated into political efficacy; hence, a driving factor towards greater
support. On the other hand, political patrons have these dismissive inducements, as they reckon it
necessary for the perpetuation of their protgs into power. The tendency, in some cases, may not
be through coercive factors but it could be through the compulsory installation of subtle
alternatives that usually leave the constituents under the state of deadlock thus, depriving them
of rational choices.
In turn, political patrons influence those who are elected to return the favor. They
enlarge their power to influence policies by putting into positions the politician who will
protect his business interest. The electorate, on the other hand, becomes an expendable
collateral damage, and is never a real participant in the political exercise. The presidency
is conscious of its duty to fulfill its commitment to the people. However, the office is

Good Governance Review


compromised by the fact that it has to enforce state policies against benefactors who
finance ones ascent to power.
To further stress the contention, political patronage is indicative of fragility of Philippine
political institutions. In explaining the definitive stance of democratic institutionalism, Filipinos
generally desire for a higher (if not better) standard of living. And the failure of Philippine
democratic institutions stems from that insufficiency due to unmet expectations (Carroll, 1970;
cited by Maboloc, 2012). Similarly, political parties in the Philippines lack that intimate
connection in terms of perspectives and ideology not to mention the candidates who suddenly
go for the run out of nowhere with some of them even run notwithstanding the absence of
knowledge with regard to the pressing issues. Some electoral candidates merely base their
chances of winning on the basis of their popularity or the image that they portray to the public.
Apparently, our political institutions are bludgeoned by the absence of foundations that would
accentuate the principles of justice and fairness. The principle of justice provides to instill
preferential concessions for the disabled and the disadvantaged while permitting others to live
their lives to reach their individual ends and be, in a meritocratic vantage point, rewarded in
accordance to the merits and equitable endowments or acknowledgments for their
accomplishments. It shall extend to the use of God-given faculties so as to make life enjoyable
while Fairness simply talks on the equality of opportunity that is, to serve or to be elected.
Such definitions only prescribe that the sociopolitical apparatus towards activation of
power should be made open to all. The very essence of a democratic coterie comprises the
freedom of choice which shall be the cornerstone of each states political life as well as the
source of legitimacy coming from the governed.
The Need for Reforms
If there is one thing that would heal the sickness of the Philippine society, especially in a
political point of view, this could be the installment of reforms that would harmonize both
political and economic confederations as the facets of development. The Philippines is confined
under a state of democracy where leaders seem to value subsistence over excellence. Moreover,
Fr. Gorospe (n.d.: 426) articulated that Philippine politics mainly dwells on the abuse of
individual liberty and flawed human relations which totally jeopardized the common good clause

Good Governance Review


as constitutionally, philosophically, and even universally enshrined as to individualist and
private concoctions (cited from Maboloc, 2012).
For instance, since we have already talked about political economy, while poverty is
categorically perceived to be a matter of social dilemma, the larger context of it appears to be
political. While politics dwells on the utilization of power, then the dimensions from which its
repercussions manifest should therefore be assessed. As a gesture of morality play, democracy is
supposed to be utilized for the benefit of the disadvantaged. The absence of a realistic and
idealistic function of democracy makes it a total paradox in which, the actual empiricism
appears to benefit a chosen few.
Should we develop that sense of eagerness and urgency to reshape our political
institutions, the reforms must begin with its rudimentary components (Carroll 1970; Abueva
1979; Sen 1999; cited by Maboloc, 2012). Although it is the structure that mainly counts as a
practicable determinant of these shortcomings, we should not disregard the importance of
individual actions to bring about the necessary changes in the landscape. However, applying the
same logic, while individuals can make rational choices, as the ultimate consideration, what is
considerably vibrant are the structures that can be conceived as virtual impediments for the
effective perpetuation of these reformative programs. Similarly, addressing the mishaps on the
economic regard would have to reckon the coexistence of political structuralism as to establish
the needed machinery (in a form of legislation, for instance) in order to institute real changes.
Politics and economics indeed constitute an insurmountable relationship not only in the guise of
electoral railroading or mobilizing but more on the grounds of communal development.
Democracy should therefore touch in reconciling these misleadingly cultured notions.
In line with political reforms, Koppinger (2010), as well as Carlos and Lalata (2010) all
documented that our faulty political party system is an aggravating factor that resonates negative
implications to our democratic institutions. What the Philippines have is basically a consolidated
group of people with self-serving interests. Hence, such circumstance does not, by any way,
represent the realistic essence of a representative government. Since it happened to be a deadlock
democratic concession, the Filipinos turned out to have no choice of selecting a leader based on a
given list of aspiring officials. Political parties are supposed to be the streamlining agent of the

Good Governance Review


people so as to reverberate their voice, to allow a mechanism wherein they could address their
grievances, and to act as an institution that would put into perspective the general desire of the
inhabitants toward a better life.
As the last note, political reforms, to materialize, will require the enhancement of
collective intelligence so to somehow translate it on the stance of political maturity. It is time for
the people not to be swayed by mere inducements. People should bear to stand on issues that
would promote human development. Such changes should start as to the way we conduct or we
act during elections. Fundamentally, we have to punish politicians practicing turncoatism, to
modernize our elections not only technologically but also both intellectually and ethically for
the plain qualified fact that we are done on the period where politics is a matter of personality
and favors we simply need to adopt intelligent voting, to enhance the power of the state to
punish people involved in fraudulent acts, and to open opportunities for everyone who desires to
run for public office (Carlos and Lalata, 2010; cited by Maboloc, 2012). Although some
prerequisites have been met, still, the problem persists as to the degree of equality established
therewith. And besides, it would be very difficult to mitigate such prevailing conditions.
Economically, the solution stems on the initiative of promoting an effective and efficient
utilization of these basic institutions especially within the bureaucracy. There should be the
existent harmony not only in public offices but also with private firms. It is perhaps time to
secure collaborative governance for the faithful and sophisticated perpetration of general reforms
in the society with less certainty on the concurrence of these conglomerations citing conflict of
interest and lack of inordinate and altruistic love for the country as the foregoing inhibitions.
Lastly, by maximizing political maturity means to empower the populace. Ordinary
citizens should be given the opportunity to create intelligent convictions especially attainable
during the process of elections (Sen, 1999; Carlos & Lalata, 2010; cited from Maboloc, 2012).
This stance would help promote responsible citizenship and would drive the ethos of
democracy the way it is supposed to work. People should develop, as recently mentioned, this
sense of urgency so as for them to feel the need to have themselves as instruments toward the
realization of these reforms. At the end of the day, collective engagement is the key for the
revitalization of these currently crooked institutions.

Good Governance Review

CONCLUSION
Essentially, we could assert within the purview of democracy as something beneficial to
the mankind. It fundamentally comprises the common interest of man as a political animal in
pursuit of his desires for personal engagement and self-preservation. In this line of thought,
democracy, as a political and civil instrumentality, has nothing to do with the internal
contradictions that seem to aggravate its real or should we say idealist nature. The problem
apparently meddled with the underlying system within the democratic scheme that we actually
practice until today. Moreover, in a form of attribution, we could as well deduce the fact that the
origin of democracy in the Philippines as such, it came out as colonial democracy can be
generally conclusive of the pertinent facts given the empirical evidence that are enshrined all
throughout. Since Philippine democracy did not grow as part of our own experience, it so
happened that the subsequent instances appeared to have jeopardized its applicability as to our

Good Governance Review


scope. Moreover, political scholars have embarked on the other probable pedagogies of
democratic deficiencies in the Philippines whereas the documented fact in accordance to the
Philippine political history came along that is, the failure of the administration especially
Cory Administration to specifically settle the type of regime that would dominate the postMarcos era.
In modern perspective, the role of democracy as an instrument of human amelioration
was shown through the function of elections. Such have provided ample mechanisms that would
regulate or inscribe that certain level of legitimacy on the part of our political actors. It also
paved the way to pacify the internal entanglements as per questions of electoral veracity and/or
political efficacy. But do these seeming imperfections of our democracy can be attributed to the
prevailing socioeconomic conditions that we have? Generally, we negatively claim the query for
the simple qualified fact that it does not necessarily jive in with economic stance although the
way we actually install leaders to public office yields irreversible repercussions as to how they
cater policies that would regulate such parameters. However, with all due reservations, the
general conditions during election periods seek to provide a more detailed explanation as to how
do these circumstances are linked to each other. That is, the prevailing socioeconomic conditions
make a significant portion of the electorate especially those who are succumbed into poverty
vulnerable to certain kinds of inducement. Moreover, other political and/or sociological variables
are seen to have affected the quality of democracy that we should be actually cherishing. For
example, the advent of personality politics perpetuated various political actors in power not
because of their intrinsic competence but due to their extrinsic faculties that made them
fascinating on the eyes of the electorate. Philippine politics, apparently, has become a large scale
circus which our politicians see as an embellished opportunity to secure their holds. Unless
Filipinos will eradicate their propensities to be swayed of cultural proclivities, the motion of our
democracy will remain backward. This idea appears to have strengthened my supporting
presupposition that the overwhelming support of the Filipinos to an unlikely Presidential
candidate due to his aggressive political stance can be due to collective breakdown of the
Filipinos as brought by various political issues and other administrative shortcomings within the
government. Filipinos are said to be generally tired of benevolent assimilation. Filipinos
basically want a combination of a fresh and real perspective that would facilitate the settlement

Good Governance Review


of real political situations as to this era. This is notwithstanding the historical accounts of
horrifying culmination of authoritarianism during Marcos regime.
Democracy, as per the degree of equality, is seen to have submerged the equal
opportunity notion of common politics. As such, the nature of democracy as to egalitarian
vantage point primarily dwells on the capability of a person to secure his interest while the
egalitarian prospective of communism aims to regulate general equality making the people in a
given community literally equal. Hence, it appears illogical to question the quality or the essence
of democracy, in general, by merely citing equality as a margin of evaluation.
To reiterate my remarks, our problem here is not merely about democracy. This is about
the condition of democracy as something dysfunctional. Our public officials often fail to provide
the basic goods and services to the people as they are envisioned to secure their self-serving
interest thus, a quest for perpetuating and aggrandizing political powers. Countless information
feeding is perhaps necessary to continuously educate the people on the perils of utilizing pseudodemocracy. Conversely, this can be done although existent - more intensively in the
cooperation of civil society groups and other non-government organizations. By imbibing the
spirit of political maturity and by dispersing such inequalities (i.e. more vibrant poverty
alleviation mechanisms and greater institutional reforms as to electoral policies and
apprehensions) that significantly hinder the idealist picture of political participation, we can
unleash the real potential of democracy as a catalyst of human development. The objective may
be hard or too idealistic but it is the unyielding hopes and spirits that count.

Works Cited
Bello, W. (n.d.). Philippine democracy: alive, but is it well? Retrieved February 6, 2016, from
Focus on the Global South: http://focusweb.org/node/1597
Maboloc, C. R. (2012). The Myth of Philippine Democracy. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from
Right and Wrong: http://ryanmaboloc.blogspot.com/2012/05/myth-of-philippinedemocracy.html
Maboloc, C. R. (2015, August 18). The Paradox of Philippine Democracy. Retrieved January 9,
2016, from Inquirer.net: http://opinion.inquirer.net/87705/the-paradox-of-philippinedemocracy

Good Governance Review


Rivera, T. C. (2011, August 11). Electoral Fraud: Structural and Institutional Issues. Retrieved
January 29, 2016, from Center for People Empowerment in Governance:
http://www.cenpeg.org/fellows_speak/rivera/Electoral_Fraud.html
Sidel, J. T. (1998). Take the money and run?: 'personality' politics in the post-Marcos Philippines.
UP Public Policy Journal, 27-38.
Sison, S. (2015, December 10). #PHVote: Why is Duterte so appealing? Retrieved January 16,
2016, from Rappler: http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/115440-phvote-duterteappealing
Thompson, M. R. (1996). Off the Endangered List: Philippine Democratization in Comparative
Perspective. Comparative Politics, 179-205.