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[Ponderings] Democratic Dysfunctions

By Philip Suzara

Pondering… as I sit here at the edge of my mythical life pond.

One can see many things happening at the edge of life’s pond, as in any pond. Decisions are made there, life changing decisions, defining moments… to get in the pond, or not. The pond is encircled by its edges in different forms and kind: straight, jagged, rough, rocks, pebbles, sand, soil, or mud. Very much like people. No matter the differences we have, we all belong there… around the life pond, inside, outside, at the edge, but there.

There is some activity and noise stirring on at the other end of the pond, and from the edge where I sit; I could see a retiring officer of the country’s electoral body is in the thick of that entire ruckus.

This comes at the worst of times for this institution that is the COMELEC, a constitutional body that oversees the whole electoral on-goings in the country. This body is an august democratic and independent body, a major and important cog in our democratic machinery; that is, at least, what it is supposed to be.

Perhaps, even as this situation might find the COMELEC to be in the worst of times, this is, for us citizens, the best of time for such to happen because this institution is now in the crucible with its integrity and independence put to the litmus test while peered beneath a collective microscope.

That the ruckus involved one brilliant and feisty commissioner, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, she with a sterling history of public service, equipped with solid rock-hard cojones like that of Hercules, is their big misfortune – whoever the puppeteers tried to manipulate and pull some of their marionettes’ strings didn’t see this mishap coming. The lady is no doormat, not like the ones they are used to.

And you’ll just love her, her demeanour makes her so lovable and that you won’t want to be on the wrong side of her. She is your decent and quiet commissioner during proceedings in her court but won’t hesitate to put you in your place when she has to. Rule of Law, she will insist. She is that breath of fresh air after a long walk through an alley of government garbage. We need more people like you, dear Commissioner Guanzon!

This gambit will blow up right in their faces much sooner than later and, if they were decent people, they might be regretting this dastardly scheme by this time. Just kidding, of course they are not; these are definitely not the kind of people you’d invite to your home for an intimate dinner with family -- very different folks.

While the issue at hand started as one of a disqualification case of a presidential candidate who was able to file his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) despite having legal impediments, according to the plaintiffs from various civil society groups, it has now blown out of proportion and careened off towards the COMELEC’s independence and integrity.

A democratic society does not want to see a democratic institution that is dysfunctional, especially this electoral body that is the gatekeeper and bulwark of our treasured democracy. Through them, would be candidates for national and local elective government positions are filtered, and are given their clearances before they can offer themselves for the electorates’ selection – this is the process and practice of this institution.

In the same breath, one cannot but think of our last bastion of democracy, our Supreme Court, the ultimate interpreter and arbiter of the law. As with the COMELEC, we have to continue our vigilance without any letdown if we value our democracy.

I am reminded of this song, “I’m your puppet” with the whole fiasco that is happening at the COMELEC. The song was performed by soul artists James and Bobby Purify and released in 1966 .

“Pull the string and I'll wink at you

I'm your puppet

I'll do funny things if you want me to

I'm your puppet

Mm, I'm yours to have and to hold

Darling, you've got full control of your puppet

Pull them little strings and I'll kiss your lips

I'm your puppet

Snap your fingers and I'll turn you some flips

I'm your puppet

Mm, your every wish is my command

All you got to do is wiggle your little hand

I'm your puppet

I'm your puppet

I'm just a toy, just a funny boy

That makes you laugh when you're blue

I'll be wonderful, do just what I'm told

I'll do anything for you

I'm your puppet

I'm your puppet

Just pull them little strings and I'll sing you a song

I'm your puppet

Make me do right or make me do wrong

I'm your puppet

Mm, treat me good and I'll do anything

I'm just a puppet and you hold my string

I'm your puppet

Your walking, talking, kissing, loving puppet

I'm hanging on a string

I'll do anything, love you 'n' kiss ya

Songwriters: Dan Penn / Spooner Oldham

In a matter of days, the country will soon be wheeling on a “contained frenzy” with the opening of the campaign period, an exposition of sorts, especially in highly urbanized and densely populated areas.

While the disqualification issue at the COMELEC may be relegated to one quiet corner in this whole festive cacophony of the campaign and election period, we should not get distracted from our main focus of regaining our true democracy, one with no assaults on our freedom and civil liberties, no assaults on our moral grounding and bereft of vested interest and wholesale corruption, led and managed by true patriots and leaders .

We deserve a better government and the choice is ours. Let us not forget that we are not children of a lesser god. When we get to the polls, let us claim that victory of hope for our children, for our people, and our beloved country!

Pondering, as I sit here at the edge of life’s pond.

Philip Suzara

Creature of God. Child of the Universe. Global Citizen. Lover of Life. Freedom Fighter. Agent of Change. Lone Wolf. Occasional Consultant for Strategic Communications.

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