Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Sen. Manny Villar's recent statement that those who could not even raise one billion pesos should not think of running for president has elicited varied, but mostly unfavorable reaction from his colleagues in the Senate. Foremost among those who severely criticized the erstwhile senate president is Sen. Richard Gordon by saying that Senator Villar's statement smacks of arrogance and conveys the impression that only the moneyed can ran for president.

But isn't Senator Villar simply stating a sad reality of Philippine politics? That only the moneyed ones - the rich and influential - corner the elections? Senator Gordon is either being naived or hypocrite in lambasting Senator Villar. Having been a long serving mayor of Olongapo City and now senator, he should know very well that money talks in Philippine politics. Instead of trying to appear innocent and immune from money politics, Senator Gordon and his like-minded colleagues can better spend their time - and the taxpayers' money, I should add - by rethinking our laws on campaign spending.

While surely money is essential for launching a successful campaign, measures should be put in place to enable qualifed, but less wealthy individuals to vie for public office and to prevent elected officials from becoming beholden to special interests. Campaign finance is admittedly a murky area; it is for this reason that serious study on the matter should be made and not simply be a passing interest that serves only the thirst for publicity of politicians.

The money that elevates a candidate to a public office is as much important as his or her qualifications, because its nature and source will speak legions about what type of public official he or she will become. Ever heard of Italy's mafia-financed politicians? or more relevant to us, the jueteng-financed politicians?

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