Political peace covenants
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No doubt, we have entered into a political season. Political ‘epals’ proliferate and each candidate tries not only to beat the law and the regulations set by the COMELEC but also to ‘out-perform’ his/her opponent.
An interesting phenomenon during the electoral season is the spread, akin to virus, of all kinds of peace covenant signing by candidates, COMELEC, security sectors (PNP and the AFP) and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). The peace covenant proclaims to all sundry that they shall adhere to peaceful, honest, and fair elections. Media people, as if on cue, click all their cameras and tape recorders to cover the ‘historic event’, especially when the opposing candidates shake hands with their ‘million dollar’ smile.
The comedy about the whole ‘ritual’ is the fact that even before the ink dries up, the candidates and their coteries of ‘supporters’ including witnesses and sponsors go back to their usual ways, without even bothering to know what it means to have peaceful, honest and fair elections.
There are two levels in our electoral ‘comedy’. The first level deals with the projection of the public persona that is GOOD and BEAUTIFUL. On this level belong the rituals of peace covenant signing, ribbon cutting, and all kinds of feasting and celebrations.
The other level is the tumble, the ‘pragmatic’ and often ‘amoral’ sphere of winning elections. Here belong all trickeries not only to ‘destroy’, isolate and beat the other candidates at all cost but also to win or make ‘compliant’ the people and instrumentalities that should guarantee honest and fair elections.
In real life, people make distinction between ‘propaganda’ and reality. Propaganda is a projection of an image that may or may not be true. Often, they are projections of a reality that is not there or ‘NOT YET” there. People concoct propaganda either to deceive people with malice or simply to ‘sell’ products to people to get them dreaming as they attempt to escape their present travails.
People say propaganda is good so long as you recognize that they are propaganda. They can be ‘hard sell’ of a product or a person and they do not matter so long as you are able to sell... Everything becomes wrong when you begin believing your own propaganda!
On the other hand, reality is what is really there. They may be harsh facts of life like ‘unemployment’, ‘discrimination’, ‘landlessness, poverty, infant and maternal mortality rates, etc.
I believe candidates and political parties need NOT promise heavens… but they and their political parties need to address real problems that ordinary people face daily in their lives. The late Senator Ka Pepe Diokno captured these as ‘FOOD, JOB, JUSTICE and FREEDOM’. It is a simple slogan but that slogan is still valid today.
In short, elections can only be meaningful to real people if they deal with putting nutritious food on the table, providing jobs, doing justice to the poor and the oppressed, and enhancing freedom of our people to choose their leaders and to free them both from local and foreign domination.
In a similar way, there is a real danger, that the present fad of peace covenant signing can, simply, be a propaganda or a comedy. Unless our candidates, political parties and the people and the instrumentalities that guarantee peaceful, honest and fair elections put their hearts and deeds where their mouths are, the ritual simply becomes another form of comedy.
Definitely, there is the need to articulate in a covenant signing what we do treasure in our hearts and what we are committed to do during this electoral season. Our claims for peaceful, honest and fair elections are, often BOLD, but our deeds are, terribly, lacking. In the true weighing of our values and belief, it is our deeds that proclaim where our hearts and political will truly are. CUIDATE!
Follow Fr. Eliseo Mercado on Twitter @junmeromi.