From hinting at retiring into the academe a few months ago, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is now keeping us in suspense on whether she’ll go for a congressional seat in Pampanga, or turn into sea foam at the end of her term.
[indolent update: She’s running. ]
The factor that made her consider running, apparently, is “public clamor,” the most abused excuse to get into politics since Caesar. Ever since Filipinos have been voting, everyone who runs for any position is simply listening to public clamor.
Cory did it. FPJ did it. Gloria, assisted as she was by civil society and the military, did it in 2001, although she didn’t run that year. She did in 2004, though. The same public clamor forcing her to renege on a promise to step down at the end of what should have been Estrada’s term.
Sen. Benigno Aquino III did it too a few weeks ago, as did Sen. Maria Ana Madrigal, although probably accompanied by a softer clamor made mostly by her staff and her pampered whippets.
None of them have any ambitions of power or whatever. They don’t even really want to do it. The people are just forcing them to, you know, put up banners with their faces on them, go around the country, and pay off handlers to keep the public clamoring.
And that would be fine, really,if they’d keep listening to the public clamor after the elections. More often than not, though, the same voices are then called destabilizers and enemies of the Republic.
It’s nice, if you think about it, giving the little guys the illusion of actually mattering in national politics. But giving public clamor so much weight can also be dangerous. If we don’t end up with politicians who truck in their supporters to each rally venue, we get figureheads who are widely popular, but have no idea how to run a country. Sometimes we also get Lito Lapid, who is running for reelection into the Senate as a placeholder.