Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Permits to Campaign

Posted by butalidnl on 22 February 2010

The New People’s Army (NPA) is again selling Permits to Campaign (PTCs) to politicos who want to campaign in the areas they control. The NPAs charge fees depending on the position that is being campaigned for. So, presidential and senatorial candidates would need to pay more.

These PTCs are instruments that go against the development of democracy in the Philippines. In the first place, only the richer candidates can afford such PTCs. So, if the NPA-controlled area is large, and only the richer candidate could campaign there, then it will be the richer candidate who will have a better chance of winning. And this candidate, once he becomes an official would have an additional reason to be corrupt – to recoup his PTC fee. Thus PTCs are promoting corruption.

In many cases, the poorer candidate is the better one – the more principled, more democratic, less corrupt. Thus, the NPA with its policy of PTCs is indirectly promoting the victory of the more corrupt politicos.

In the second place, the charging of fees for PTCs is a corrupt practice in itself. It is actually trying to “cash in” on the fact that the NPA has armed men in the area. It is not different, in essence, from warlords who charge politicos to go into their areas. And, with the PTCs, do the NPA also offer to “campaign” for the politicos with the PTCs?  Campaigning done by armed men is really not very democratic. Who will dare vote against them?

Of course, we could say that since NPA-controlled areas are not that many, national politicians could afford to ignore these areas. But this would mean that politicians are then indirectly influenced in order to avoid rural areas, and simply concentrate on the urban areas which they can access. This is also bad for democracy, since democracy presupposes that all citizens count, not only those in urban areas.

And if NPA-controlled areas are not so significant for national politicians, they might make up a considerable proportion of the voters for some local politicians. This would mean that the NPA would be promoting the election of corrupt local officials.

And after the elections, what then? Well, the NPA could say that they are independent of the politicians who got implicit support during the elections. But how true is this going to be? Do you think that the NPA will only be cozy with these politicians during election time? I think this whole practice of PTCs will skew NPA actions in the local areas for years. And, what about revolutionary change and the peoples welfare – do this go down the drain also?

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