As predictable as fairy tales

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BOTH in terms of how they’re being conducted and their possible results, the elections of 2013 are shaping up as expected.

Name recall and membership in a well-known political family are what most of the leading candidates for senator have in common. That’s in addition to huge war chests, of which a significant portion is being poured into political ads, particularly after the Supreme Court struck down the Commission on Elections resolution limiting media ad exposure to 120 minutes each.

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Deception

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THE British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been an icon of public broadcasting since it was founded in 1927, and is often mentioned as a model worthy of emulation in the campaign for an authentic public broadcasting system in the Philippines.

Its first director-general declared that impartiality is the essence of professional broadcasting. It has a reputation for independence, a virtue supposedly assured by the funding of its television, radio and online services through a mandated share in the license fee on every transmitting device (e.g., TV and radio sets) sold in Britain regardless of what government, whether Labor or Conservative, is in power.

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Out of context

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ORGIES OF overspending, vote-buying, intimidation and outright coercion, and exercises through which a few political families have monopolized practically every elective office from city councilor to President, Philippine elections are already a mockery of representative democracy. The latest Supreme Court decision declaring the party list system open to established political parties will make them even worse travesties.

By a vote of 10 to two, the justices overturned the Court’s own declaration 12 years ago that only marginalized and underrepresented sectors can participate in party list elections, and instead allowed other political parties and groups to run for seats in the House of Representatives.

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Wrongdoing rewarded

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THEN Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaced ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001. But they have more in common than it seems. Both are the heads of their respective political dynasties. And both are running for public office this year–she for the second congressional district of Pampanga, to which she was elected in 2010, and he for Mayor of Manila.

Convicted of plunder in September 2007, but pardoned by Arroyo a month later, Estrada ran for President in 2010, and, among the nine candidates for the post that year, came in as second to Benigno Aquino III. Estrada amassed more than nine million votes out of the 38 million voter turnout, compared to Aquino III’s 15 million votes. There but for Aquino, the Philippines would have had another Estrada Presidency, despite his ouster through direct citizen action in 2001 and subsequent conviction.

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