A politician is elected to a hotly contested public office and the first thing he would do upon his assumption of office is hound and persecute bitter opponents and their close supporters.

The act or practice is sometimes referred to as “predatory politics,” a sort of winner-take-all game where, ironically, there are no winners, only losers.  It has been practiced by many politicians to intimidate rivals and establish political dynasties since electoral politics was first introduced to the Philippines by its American occupiers at the turn of the last century.

The trouble with predatory politics is that not only is it prone to physical violence but also counter productive..  The “persecutors” will find it difficult to govern unhampered by social division and conflict because the “persecuted” will protect themselves by opposing and obstructing all their moves, setting in motion a chain of adversarial events that may end up with disastrous consequences not only for the parties in conflict but for the governed as well.

Such was the case with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who had to deal with the ever-present threat to her presidency posed by her numerous enemies.  She wasted a great deal of her time and effort (and government resource) protecting and defending her presidency at the expense of her other duties as head of government and undivided attention to the pressing needs of the nation.  Ironically, she now finds herself at the receiving end of predatory politics which she herself employed throughout her tumultuous nine-year stay in power.

One can say a lot of negative things about former President Fidel Ramos but ignorance of hard politics will not be one of those.  A “minority President” with a mere 21% electoral mandate, he correctly understood that “politics is also addition.”  

Among his first acts in office, Pres. Ramos met with his defeated presidential rivals and solicited their help and experience in the affairs of his government.  As a result, he presided over a stable government unmarked by serious threats of social unrests and political intramurals.  And for the first time in many, many years, the government managed to balance its fiscal position and record a surplus budget in 1996 — a rare fiscal feat that has remained unmatched by succeeding governments.

In contrast, President Benigno Aquino III was still on a “campaign mode” when he delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address a month after he took office.

His personal hand and high profile participation in the prosecution of the criminal charges filed against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her alleged accomplices, and the impeachment raps against her alleged protectors in government (Chief Justice Renato Corona and former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez), gives one the impression too, rightly or wrongly, that these cases are somehow tainted with political color.

Of late, and acting on mere “suspicion” of income tax deficiency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima have unnecessarily announced that the BIR is conducting a tax audit of world boxing icon and Sarangani Congressman Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.  Everybody knows that Cong. Pacquiao openly supported and campaigned for defeated presidential candidate Senator Manuel Villar during the May 2010 elections.  He is also considered by many as a viable opposition party candidate for higher elected positions.

“Reconciliation with justice” and democratic procedures are not incompatible.  One has to do with simple operation of the law; while the other has to do with how to implement the law, free of parochial motives and predatory politics

Predation is the scourge of Philippine politics.  It deprives the people of good government and governance.  It divides and distracts the people from pressing concerns of national development. 

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 10 April 2012


Related photos 

President Benigno Aquino III

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Former President Fidel Ramos

Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona

Former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Secretary Cesar Purisima of the Department of Finance

World boxing icon and Sarangani Congressman Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao