Elections and good governance should not involve destroying our institutions

Remember back in 2010 when Noynoy Aquino won the presidency and those who campaigned or voted for the other side got so drained and depressed? So much so that they started severing ties from family and friends, particularly those celebrating Aquino’s victory by lecturing them about their “ignorance” and “corruption,” about how they were obstructing “good governance”? Remember when that losing side went to the streets demanding revolution, gleefully looking forward to the country’s situation deteriorating, perhaps even demise? Remember that?

No? Well because it never happened. After the initial disappointment and after it became clear that Aquino won, most of the opposing voters just shrugged and went back to work. They treated their family and friends as before, regardless of their political stance. And most of all, they hoped for the best for the country.

Compare that with today, what with supposed calls for walking out of schools, the repetitive droning calls to the streets, the invitation to cut ties with family and friends whose only sin was to back the candidacy of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. And compare that with today’s attitude from many of the losing Leni Robredo side, declaring total withdrawal of support for their fellow citizens and even of the country.

Incredibly, the winning side isn’t even allowed to celebrate: any amount of gleeful sentiment was taken as gloating by the Kakampinks, of laughing at the “pain suffered by those so invested in their campaign,” about the victory they supposedly deserved because, after all, they went house to house. But that’s how elections campaigns are: all get invested in it yet inevitably some will win and some will lose.

And setting aside the childishly self-entitled “trophy for every participant” attitude, what is seemingly sought to be forgotten are the months and months of repeated insults and condescension heaped upon by the Kakampink’s, to the point that merely wearing red or the BBM/Sara facemask in public will make one suffer the indignity of snide remarks, glares, or even deranged haranguing lectures, including accounts of vague victimhood suffered through the “1986 revolution,” whatever that is.

More disconcerting is the attitude of wanting to win at all costs, the willingness to do away with our country’s institutions just to be able to impose one’s will over another.

Our universities, supposedly bastions of free thought and free exchange of ideas have suddenly become unabashed hives of homogeneous political thought. And it is no good to pretend that merely this school official or that school organization endorsed a specific presidential candidate. The fact that such happened with no official declaration made about the university maintaining neutrality speaks volumes. And how a student who happens to back a different candidate or — even worse — backed a candidate which the university explicitly or implicitly opposes will be welcomed inside the classroom has never been explained. So much for safe spaces.

The same with the local Catholic clergy. Never mind the other religions, that is their concern. But for a church that prides itself in being “catholic,” to suddenly do away with centuries and centuries of tradition exercised in every country where the Catholic Church is found, to suddenly back a specific candidate — after it refused to even endorse anyone back in the 2013 elections amidst the heat of the then RH Bill national debate — reeks of politicized egotism. And this never mind the fact that the candidate they backed, Mrs. Robredo, happened to author the RH Law, advocated for the SOGI bills, as well as pushed for civil unions (which, in the form currently discussed, is practically the same as same sex “marriage”). This within the further context that the local clergy meekly remained silent for the past two years, when the churches were closed and many of the Catholic faithful were unable to have access to the sacraments.

But most disgusting, worthy of contempt, is the attitude towards the family, where insulting and cutting off one’s parents, siblings, relatives, and even friends are lauded when such was done for partisan reasons. The sheer arrogance of this, the utter selfishness, to think that one has a monopoly on facts and reason, resulting in individualistically being the sole exclusive determinant of right and wrong, is horribly breathtaking. And sad.

Politicians come and go but the care and safety of one’s personal relationships are precisely why we engage in politics. To believe that politics is the end all and be all is downright massively ignorant and self-centered.

To sum, lawyer and legal scholar Trixie Legaspi-Francisco’s words are worth heeding: “Democracy is governed by its most popularly understood principle: majority rule. The majority vote (or plurality when there are more than two choices) decides the election or the issue. And so, when the People have spoken, the People’s will should be respected — whether you agree with it or not. Democracy is not a weapon you can wield only if it suits you.”

Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence

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