The common, the callous and the petty

published 18 January 2013, MST page A5
Just because something has always been done a certain way does not necessarily mean it is right.
Take for instance this insane practice of having "common candidates."'
For this year's elections, the delineations between the two rival coalitions are clear.  The adminsitration Liberal Party has teamed up with the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People's Coalition. At the other end is the coalition led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The second group has not yet admitted to being the “opposition” even as some of their actions give us indications that they are so. Case in point, Cebu. For now, however, they are content to present an "alternative."
Alternative or not, there are at least three candidates who call themselves "common" candidates, meaning they identify themselves not with one of the groups but with both of them.
We say we don't like people who want to have their cake and eat it too. In Tagalog we have an expression for that -- "namamangka sa dalawang ilog."  There is also an adage that one cannot serve two masters.
But guess what? The "common" candidates, re-electionist Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, are leading the surveys anyway.
Of course this is an anomaly. The idea of taking advantage of the machinery of not one but two groups, just because they cannot bear to sever their links to either, is unconscionable -- to use a fashionable term. Yet it happens, and because it has happened more than once, we do not realize how utterly wrong the practice is.
What does this say about the candidates? More importantly, what does this say about us, we who allow this to happen?
Another common fare is the sight of streamers announcing the "greetings" of would-be candidates for Christmas, New Year, fiesta, graduation, Easter and any occasion imaginable.
There has been a very active anti-epal movement in place, aided by the Internet. Some of those identified have taken their signages down, sensitive as they are to public opinion. But some are just so callous -- they don't care.
Of course, being an epal is not limited to cheap banners. Sometimes they could be in a grander scale '-- going on television to show their faces, pretending to champion a cause, or touring provinces to introduce members of the team.  This affliction knows no political color.
We can of course make our disgust felt by not voting for these callous ones. But if we do that, there might not be anybody left.
Again, blame it on us, who would rather vote for the devil we know rather than find out whether the other fellow is in fact less of a devil.  We are swayed by personalities, affinities -- why, we are so lazy that we vote for party list organizations that begin with the letter A or number 1!
No wonder our politicians take us for fools.
Finally, two of the most brilliant legal minds in the government are now locked in a spirited argument. But no, the debate is not about some profound, far-reaching principle. The battle between Enrile and Senator Miriam Santiago has bordered on the comical, with one accusing the other of being jealous and the other outliving himself.
Elder statesmen are supposed to inspire the younger set to set aside their personal agenda and shun aggrandizement for the greater good. So they have their personal issues. Outside of whether they actually deserve the money we pay them, do we really care that they hate each other's guts?
It is a pity that for all our talk about elevating the debates and changing the way we run our government, it still boils down to the petty.