Saturday, November 3, 2012

A matter of principle

For a while, I did flirt with the idea of running for an elective position. After seeing the way the council sweep the issue of SM City Baguio's expansion under the rug, Baguio's natural environment, heritage and dignity need a genuine representative in our local government.

I envisioned a campaign that was to be run strictly according to the law and Comelec rules and regulations. Very strictly. Campaign expenditures will be within the limits that the law dictates, no posters or streamers will go a fraction of an inch beyond the allowed sizes. There will be no television or radio ads at all for with the prohibitive cost of airing an ad on mainstream media, either a candidate will end up using up his campaign spending limit and have nothing left for other campaign expenses, or they will be forced to doctor their expense reports and submit false statements to the Commission on Elections.

Friends and family thought it was a good idea – to run a clean campaign, but most of them agreed that it also almost guarantees a loss. See, the norm when it comes to elections is to go around the law to ensure a win. And it’s not just about overspending and oversized posters and streamers - it’s also about directly bribing voters, handing out envelopes with money to community leaders. The list goes on.

Yet, I was adamant – if running a clean campaign would result in a loss, then let it be. I’d rather do right and lose than do wrong and win a seat I didn’t deserve. It’s a matter of principle.

But, at the end of the day, I backed out. Primarily because the struggle that was started early this year to save the trees on Luneta Hill from corporate greed isn’t over yet. If I filed my certificate of candidacy, I wouldn’t be able to help continue advocating this cause anymore.

So now, as a voter, that would be at the top of my criteria for candidates in the coming election: principles. If you don’t have it, then that’s one less vote from me for you. If you’re the candidate who will commit a single, no matter how minor, infraction during your campaign; or one who easily switched political parties to advance your own selfish interest at the expense of what it was you stood for in the past; or one who brandished a gun in public to intimidate a helpless citizen; or one who bullies others because of your belief that you’re above everyone else being a politician; or one who never stood for anything in the past and is only running now for power – you don’t have my vote.

If not one candidate can live up to that primary criterion, then so be it: I shall abstain. Baguio's at a point of no return now, we need no less than genuine public servants. We definitely do not need another term with trapos, traditional politicians, including those those novices who are clearly showing signs of being trapos in the making this early.

Taking from Padre Florentino’s speech in the last chapter of El Filibusterismo, Malou Jacob wrote at the end of her play, “Pepe”: “Malinis at walang bahid-dungis ang kailangang maging buhay na alay upang ang handog ay maging karapat-dapat.”

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