‘Celebrities’ now hope of Rizal’s motherland?

THE great plebeian Dr. Jose Rizal said ” the youth is the hope of the motherland.”

But I think, nowadays, we can change ótemporarily that ‘battlecry’ because the hope of many Pinoy fans for a better life are the movie actors and actresses, professional athletes and television anchors.

Through the years and here and there or everywhere in the cities and provinces, celebrities fill-up important positions from the barangay to municipal level to provincial, district, Congress and national after easily making success in the polls.

They are now at it again and they are multiplying in numbers.

Look who’s padding the lead in pre-election surveys in the senatorial race. It doesn’t matter who’s behind this survey but it always spice up the political landscape.

TV5’s feisty show host Raffy Tulfo surged ahead leaving seasoned lawmakers behind which forced me to offer a wide wild smile to my monitor as I read the news reports. (It is also a moment to remember his brother Erwin, a classmate back in college who always tuck a copy of the Manila Bulletin under his armpit. Aside from solving the crossword puzzle it proved to me that he idolized his own elder brother Mon who was then a columnist there. But that’s another story).

Tulfo doesn’t even have an experience in public office except that he has millions of subscribers of his YouTube channel which he likes to brag.

Whether you agree or not, Manny Pacquiao became a Senator because of his being a legendary boxing world champion but not because of a proven track record in policy making and deliberating. Now he is pursuing his ambition to become the top man of the land.

He’s now going around towns and cities to look for the poorest of the poor and tell them his ambitious goal to end graft and corruption.

Pacquiao says there will be no “squatters” (slum dwellers) anymore in this country because he said his administration will take care of that. If he wins.

In the city of San Juan in the heart of Metro Manila, the mayor was a pro basketball player. This coming elections Local Chief Executive Francis Zamora includes four other pro basketball players in his line up for the city council including James Yap.

Philippine elections remain a popularity contest. Top celebrities are aware that being a household name can give them easy victory in a circus-like atmosphere that is already rigged with vote buying as well as name dopping and demagoguery everytime.

Their fans are continuously giving thumps up to their idols without much knowing or reviewing on the candidate’s track record or background.

Movie stars, boxing champions, professional basketball players and TV and television hosts and newscasters must observe some decency in our government.

The boxing ring, basketball court, shooting location or tv show or radio station should not be a training ground on the way to becoming government official.

Candidates for top government posts must come from highly trained government employees, political experts, scientists, lawyers, economists and the like.

Celebrities take advantage of their stature in society and it is so sad that even if they know that they are not trained for the position, they don’t have the temerity to ask themselves if they are making the right decision.

But in fairness to a few of them who have proven themselves in public service like aspiring Senator former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, a political science graduate who did not dare to leave his college education while continuing his successful showbiz career before finally settling down to concentrate public service. He rose from being a youth leader, city councilor to Mayor and now he is seeking a seat in the Senate.

As public administrator he set his own standard and should be emulated by his peers in an industry full of intrigues, gossip and fallibility.

I am not even endorsing Herbert. We have our own voting preferences. I vote for ideological reasons.

I mentioned his case here just to stress a point. If we list down all of them here it would be a kilometer long (competent or incompetent) and you lose interest in reading their names.

The sorry state of our political system and the electoral process is compounded by this popularity contest issue.

It is indeed one of the major flaws of our democratic process because we need to elect highly competent people to lead us to a better tomorrow. I believe there is a need to overhaul our electoral process, another issue that needs a compehensive study and deserve much space here in a matter of days.

Whether we like it or not, celebrities have all the freedom to exercise and assert their civil and political rights that is guaranteed by by the Constition to all qualified citizens. They are protected by law like any other candidate and no one can stop anyone to exercise your right to join the election regardless of color, race or religion. Anyone can join regardless of sector you represent, or kind of work you have or of your traditions and beliefs.

The constitution, the local government code and other similar statutes do not say you cannot file and run because you don’t know how to execute laws or you are incompetent to deliberate critical legislative measures.

This is the real thing. The real issue which every candidate must think not only once or twice but maybe a hundred times before making a decision.

Am I really fit to that position? Am I trained for this?

Most likely, a government position becomes a training ground for politicians in the guise of public service.

Over the years, showbiz personalities and celebrated athletes join the election campaigns, some win and others lose.

They join for different reasons, perhaps to extend their clout or just pure public service. The latter being a worthy cause and I would like to believe that such good intention is everyone’s path in this upcoming political exercise.

However, there are a handful of candidates who are most qualified but not necessarily as popular to the people like former Bayan Muna Party List Representative Atty. Neri Colmenares and labor leader Elmer Labog who have been in the forefront against the excesses of the government and fighting for just causes for the benefit of the sector they represent and the nation as a whole.

The actual general Election day is a little over six months away although campaigning has already been on the go.

Hundreds maybe even a thousand of celebrities have filed their certificates of candidacy for various positions.

These include national in the case of president, vice president and senators; district level for the House of Representatives; provincial for governor, vice governor and board members; municipal for mayor, vice mayor and Sangguniang Bayan members.

Going back to our senses, THE YOUTH, of course, remain the hopes of the Filipino nation in its profound sense or what Dr. Jose Rizal said his hope for his “motherland.”

Is this still hold true? Well it should. We need a highly educated, highly competent, highly confident, full of activism, conscienticised youth to lead our nation in the near future.

Our country needs these qualities in our young people to prepare them for a better and more secured future.

Energetic cannot even be enough as a qualification because anyone can be energetic but at the same time one is incompetent and abusive as public official.

We must train them to become partners in nation building and leaders of development.

This is the only way this divided nation can be great again.

This is why we need to invest a lot of time and effort and even huge funding for education. We need to enhance the curriculum for public administration courses, political science and the other related social sciences and law degree.

We have to encourage the youth to engage in these disciplines. We have to establish more institutions that specialize in these field of sciences or arts.

We have to prepare them to be competent leaders and to become law abiding citizens.

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