Aired on April 13, 2010
Narration by Ptr. RG Foncardas
In a capitalist economy, everything has a price! Even if an item is advertised as “free”, someone is paying for it. Whether it is a haircut or the latest music CD, we all have to pay for something in some way. Those with money can afford to buy the best — like a (Jaguar) for a car or a (steak) for dinner. But often, for those struggling to make ends meet, even getting the best price in the market for a kilo of pork is difficult.
Our political system is supposed to help level these differences. We say that in a democracy, everyone is equal. Everyone, for instance, should have an equal chance of seeking public office, whether rich or not-so-rich. These days, however, seeking public office has a price tag — a very high price tag!
The law sets limits on campaign spending and advertising to ensure that every candidate has an equal opportunity for exposure. However, we see candidates who spend hundreds of millions of pesos on “infomercials” that violate such campaign restrictions. Likewise, there are restrictions to prevent conflicts of interest between being a public servant and being a businessperson. There is nothing wrong with a businessman wanting to serve the country in whatever capacity. But using that office to benefit one’s business interests has been a problem in this country for many years now.
What really is the problem with wealth in politics? Spending lots of money for a campaign does raise a candidate’s ratings. The campaign becomes a popularity contest. In a culture where such popularity creates a “bandwagon effect,” big campaign spending is virtually like buying a victory. Then, once in power, the official’s temptation to gain back that money is strong. Corruption, then, becomes a huge problem.
That is why we have to watch, teach, and pray.
We have to watch those who violate campaign spending and advertising limits, and those who may have potential or actual conflicts of interest.
We have to teach our people to look beyond the hype of surveys and to help them properly discern who to vote for.
Finally, we have to pray for the Spirit to transform the hearts of our people, so that we may vote rightly and not be swayed by mere money politics.