“Political prostitute” doesn’t quite cut it as a metaphor for politicians, particularly the Filipino variety.

A prostitute dispenses sexual favors for cash, and in that enterprise ends up with multiple partners. In certain societies like ours where the self-righteous reign, prostitutes are derided as destroyers of morality and as enemies of the family because they supposedly lead otherwise honest and faithful husbands into sin.

Prostitutes are more victim than victimizer, however. They’re exploited not only by the pimps and madams who live off their labors, but also by their clients. Many are from the vast Philippine countryside, and have been forced into the world’s oldest profession by poverty, or lured into it by promises of employment in the cities.

In their work they have to endure abuse not only by pimps and madams, but also by the police. They are also in constant risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

There’s no way of putting it delicately. It’s the prostitute who gets screwed, not her pimp or madam, not the police, and certainly not the client. As in most other callings, there’s also a class structure of sorts in prostitution, in which expensive call girls outrank the streetwalker. Although that’s another story altogether, whether cheap or expensive, all prostitutes are exploited. Thus the more apt term “prostituted women,” which feminist groups use to describe women trapped in the oldest profession.

The point is that unlike prostitutes, far too many politicians (admittedly not all) do the screwing, and they do it in a big way. They do dispense favors like occasional handouts, or getting constituents jobs. But they get them back multiplied several times in the form of kickbacks, bribes and other benefits not listed in their job descriptions, tax declarations, or statements of assets and liabilities.

True, being with multiple partners has become nearly synonymous with being a politician in these parts, but that’s about as far as the analogy goes. Some of the least exploited Filipinos in this country of exploitees are politicians, many of whom, in their other capacities as landlords and big businessmen do the exploiting—of other people’s labors, and whatever else they can offer. No, “political prostitute” doesn’t quite cut it. “Predator” might.

Apparently untrained in the devices of literature, however, the Armed Forces’ Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus has called Senator Loren Legarda a political prostitute. That description is as confused as it’s confusing. It’s also especially selective, if based solely on Legarda’s having recently changed parties (and thus political partners). After all, who among our politicians and the current crop running for office, from president to senator to congressman/woman, hasn’t ended up politically in bed with strangers or even former enemies?

Consider the curious assortment of creatures running for senator, for example. It’s gotten so that few can tell who’s with whom and with what, so furiously over the last two months have they changed partners, with at least one of them (Rodolfo Biazon) changing partners thrice.

And then there’s Gen. Corpus’ patron, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who tops them all in the changing partners category. Right now, after kicking Heherson Alvarez out, she’s in the same political bed as Miriam Defensor Santiago, John Osme

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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  1. indeed philippine politics is a big telenovela. bigger than the populace of metaphors that can be said of it. but bigger is the ability of a common man who realizes his potentials of not merely becoming an observer from the background, but a participant of the entire art of it. powerful media must be utilize to empower the common man

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