Deal on good governance

The Philippines has one of the best election laws in the world that puts men and women in power. But why is this country lagging in terms of delivery of public services, protection and promotion of human rights, and speed of progress and development?

Every third year, there is election in the Philippines. If we include those conducted for barangays (village) and the youth, the frequency becomes more frequent. Virtually, there is election in this country year-round. It is as if genuine democracy anchors only on holding these political exercises.

In the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), election is also conducted every three years. This is not what the MILF proposed; we wanted the election to be conducted every five years, or at least empowering the Bangsamoro Parliament to make such laws, including how elections are held. But in the end, what is provided for in the 1987 Constitution prevailed.

Our logic is very simple. More elections, more expenses; oftentimes, it results in shady reimbursements from the public coffer. Candidates spend so much money, more than what the law allows, for legitimate expenses or for other purposes, like buying votes or buying-out of opponents.

But we cannot blame entirely those using their money to buy votes or their opponents; those receiving them should also be as guilty. If there are no takers, there would be no bribers. But in the whole, the system, that unwritten norm in society which people like or tolerate, should be blamed.

But how to change the system is the real challenge. Some say the system can only be changed through radical means or revolution; others say reformism would suffice.

More on elections: The other reason is that most of those who win in the elections are virtually the same faces or families or clans, because they have the three Gs (guns, gold, and goons). Thus, it is better to make the exercises every five years, to save the money of the government.

A close look at countries of the world today would indicate that those with less frequent elections or those with elected officials holding longer terms of office, say the United States, are more stable or progressive. The reason is obvious: policies are pursued, developed or improved, and sustained, and development projects are pursued and sustained with intensity.

This is the trend, but in every rule, there is an exception. Countries, which have no elections, such as those ruled by despots, monarchs, or monolithic parties, are usually backward. They are poor and stagnant.

As in past years, the MILF has reiterated its policy of non-participation in elections, except those in parliamentary elections in the future. This is why we organize the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), in preparation for this election. We let the present breed of leaders vie in these elections. All what we urge them is whoever gets elected should adopt and observe good governance. The money of the people, including those intended for them in the internal revenue allocation (IRA), should be spent for them.