What is so special about elective government positions that people would spend millions–even billions of peso–to get elected to a job paying only a comparatively measly few hundreds of thousand a year? What is so attractive in becoming a president, senator, congressman, governor or even a mayor that people would try to do almost anything, including cheating and even killing women, journalists, and innocent bystanders, just to ensure a victory at the polls?
The answer, of course, is POWER (all-caps with fireworks to boot!). Unfortunately for it, Philippine democracy is just a set of inconvenient rules in this game of power and power-brokering. Traditional politics focuses on the capture and the maintenance and consolidation of the Power–for most traditional politicians this means keeping it in the family or clan.
In this sense, democratic elections are tolerated because these cannot be set aside without overthrowing the post-Marcos political system. This is something which will take too much effort to do and therefore is only seen as a last resort. In the meantime, the traditional politicians pursue the Power using every loophole of the electoral laws–and even brazenly contravening these laws if they think they can get away with it.
However, power–though a legitimate objective in every electoral contest–is not or will never be whole framework of democratic elections or of democratic governance. In the theory of democracy, power resides naturally or inherently in the governed. Consent of the governed is therefore sought in the setting-up and functioning of the State and government, particularly in the electoral process.
Power of a public official–in a democracy–is necessarily limited by the social contract or constitution, the derivative laws of the land, and public opinion. A public servant, the public official cannot change the mandate given him or her without the consent of the governed.
Precisely, political delicadeza dictates that an unpopular president should take the broad hints given by the people. That she should refrain from running again–even for a relatively minor position–and embarrassing the incoming president or, worse, go into Congress and maneuver to dislocate or even replace the new president.
However, the taste of power is addictive. And near-absolute power trumps any addictive drug known to mankind.