Monday, October 12, 2015

73. The Nuisance

It sounds heroic if I start by saying that the COMELEC rule disqualifying nuisance candidates for President is unconstitutional. After all, being a creature of the Constitution, the COMELEC cannot add or subtract from the qualifications as outlined in Article VII. Accordingly, the COMELEC may not define a nuisance candidate and provide that aside from the qualifications for President as stated in the Constitution, a candidate must prove he or she is not a nuisance candidate, or otherwise face disqualification. But heroism or strict constitutionalism is not going to work in a country where the right to run for public office can be, and is often, abused. Theoretically, there is no limit to the number of candidates who can run for the position of President. But it will not take a wise guy to know that if 1,000 people do, the COMELEC would not be in a position to handle the nightmare it would entail to administer the elections for that enormous number of candidates for one position alone. It would likely result in a failure of elections. Accordingly, affording the COMELEC the power to exclude nuisance candidates might be constitutionally infirm, but it is a sound management tool for a democratic country. Yet, I am not about to let this go, because my concern is to keep the doors open of the Presidency to the philosopher king. In Book VI of the Republic, Plato likens the business of running a country into the task of navigating a ship and compares the citizens of a state to a shipowner who lacks knowledge in seafaring. The sailors are the politicians, while the ship's navigator, a stargazer, is the philosopher. The sailors claim knowledge of sailing,  but know nothing of navigation as they constantly vie  for the approval of the shipowner to captain the ship, going so far as to intoxicate the shipowner with drugs and wine. And they dismiss the navigator as a useless stargazer, yet he is the only one with the knowledge of seafaring who can direct the course of the ship. In the Philippines, that philosopher king might be the head of the philosophy department in an obscure Mindano university, or a merchant in Ongpin, Binondo, Manila, or a nomadic taong grasa who roams the streets of Loyola Heights, or ahem a sleepless blogger. What I am saying is that the COMELEC rule throwing out the nuisance candidates from the presidency might keep us from electing the philosopher king, for like the navigator of the ship of state, he does not appear like the standard politician. And we would be stuck with our ship of state which is run by the politician sailors who know nothing of running it. We would never know. As I finish this piece, the news is out that the quintessential presidential candidate Ely Pamatong has just filed his certificate of candidacy for President, a likely prospect for disqualification for being a nuisance. Ely Pamatong is probably not the philosopher king that Plato said is the ideal leader for the ship of state, but we could be wrong. And I recall with a smile, Pascual Racuyal who last ran against Cory Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 as well as Manuel Quezon and the others in all the presidential elections since the Commonwealth era. I wonder if anybody ever asked him about his ideas. For one thing is certain, in our history as a democratic state, Plato has been proven right; our country has not gone far with our politicians, and so we must keep watch for the philosopher king, who truly knows this business of sailing the ship of state but who may come in a package that the COMELEC defines as nuisance. 

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