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Send in the Clowns: Filipino Voters Want a Circus Senate

A boxer-tax-evader-bigot is a senator. Leading the Senate is a plagiarist-rapist joker. With them are a Bong that danced his way to a senate seat after being imprisoned for graft and corruption, a Bong who cannot accept defeat, and a Bong whose life’s legacy is to bow down to the dictator’s whims and clean up his mess. It’s a bunch of clowns. This is what Filipinos voted for. A circus.

But to say that all Filipinos aren’t smart voters would be a disservice to those who voted for the less popular but better candidates. Still, there are enough unwise voters in the country to seat clowns in power.

Pac, Sotto, and the Bongs

Manny Pacquiao is most famous for his success in his boxing career, knocking out opponents in the ring and often enjoying truckloads of money for bothering. It would have been better if he stayed in the boxing ring. However, Pac chose to run as a politician in a country where voters cannot differentiate national interests from a TV reality show. One local author, Bob Ong, once said that a country where citizens are fans cannot be hopeful (non-verbatim), and he is probably right. Pac’s appeal in the ring spilled into the senatorial race, letting him win a seat, thanks to his staunch supporters. He has since shown everyone his bigotry and a false sense of righteousness, as well as his shallow understanding of the death penalty (he said even Jesus was sentenced to death, then this senator did a 180-degree turn when a logical flaw was exposed) and sexuality. By 2022, he will be old enough to run for the presidency. Bad omen.

Next is Tito Sotto, who is the current senate president in the country. Similar to Pac, Sotto is a firm believer that being a macho-patriarch can let him get away with the foolishness he presents in the Senate. And he’s not a newbie when it comes to controversies. If Pac insists that members of the LGBTQ community are sinful, Sotto jokes that the sexual harassment may be okay as long as they are simply jokes. For context, Sotto’s popularity and subsequent rise to political power came as a result of his comedy career on TV and in films. So, it should not be surprising that even in his political career, the clownery sticks with his DNA and shows. His jokes don’t end with the nasty comments on women and single mothers. He’s also a known plagiarizer as well as an apologist/enabler of rapists (a quick Google search on the name Pepsi Paloma will enlighten those who haven’t heard of the TVJ + Richie D’Horsie rape scandal. Spoiler: Paloma died).

But two clowns in the Senate aren’t enough, or so it seems when one looks at the Filipinos’ choice in the most recent senatorial elections. In comes Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who was sent to prison in 2014 after being accused of plunder in the sensational PDAF scam, along with two other senators. Fast forward to 2019, he got out of jail and aimed to snitch a seat in the Senate. Less gullible Filipinos balked at the idea of electing a plunderer back to the government. After years of trial and imprisonment, who would want him as a public servant? However, he had his own style. He had the charisma. More importantly, he had the dance moves! Using the widely and wildly popular Budots dance craze, he ditched presenting a reliable and transparent platform to the voters and took the country by surprise by twisting and turning his hips in front of the camera. This, of course, didn’t really help his credibility as a candidate, much less erase the memory of the infamous pork barrel scam. Dance moves or not, he was just not fit to be a public servant. It turned out, though, that hip twisting and turning were just what Filipino voters wanted. He won.

As if Filipinos can’t get enough of the circus, two more Bongs are in the government. One of them is Bong Go, who is a loyal puppy to the president, always in the scene and wagging his tail, making sure that the Almighty President gets what he wants, whether it be a new pair of Xi Jinping socks or a photo session with the stars. Go is always on the go to defend whatever the president does and says. It’s pretty clear where his loyalty belongs. Clue: not the people.

The other Bong is perhaps the most charming of them all. Bongbong Marcos, who is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, ran for the vice presidency in 2016 and lost. Three good years without him in the vice president position, he’s still moping and protesting the election results. Truth be told, Filipinos who are smart enough not to bring power back to any of the Marcoses know that this Marcos lost the race. He just can’t get over it. A recount of the votes recently showed that while Marcos insisted he won the elections, the official vice president, Leni Robredo, still appeared to be taking the lead. Marcos commented that he had been robbed of the vice presidency, but he would continue the fight. Robredo responded by saying that between the two of them, she wasn’t the robber. And Filipinos get the reference: the Marcoses robbed the Philippines during the fateful ‘70s. And the Filipinos are still paying for those years.

Sending in More Clowns?

If one bigot, one rapist, and three awful Bongs aren’t enough, don’t fret. The Philippine Senate got all sorts. Cynthia Villar, who owns real estate properties and massive subdivisions all over the country, hates research and researchers. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police chief, loves to cry when grilled in the Senate. Among Dela Rosa’s first statements when the elected senator was that he would “study” the job. Imee Marcos, who is sister to Bongbong Marcos, cannot get her educational background straight (spoiler: she obviously faked them, but denies it).

And that’s just the Senate. There are a whole bunch of them in other arms of the government. The point is: is this what Filipino voters really want? Is this the voice of the people? Hope to say no. At any rate, Filipinos can be smart—if they choose to. Perhaps it’s better to think that these senators have been elected purely because of their entertainment value.

The year 2019 has been a year of evil, killer clowns like Pennywise and Joker. But it’s not funny when they have seats in government offices. It’s not funny.

Are they going to send in more clowns in the next election? Hope not!