Editor's Note: Many politicians have already declared their intentions to run for the highest office in the land -- the Presidency of the Philippines. The upcoming elections on May 2010 may well be the most anticipated and crucial political event in the country will ever see. This time, the race has swelled to its maximum never before seen or ever will be. However, the colorful personalities that will make this elections shine are the unfortunate political nuisance candidates.
Ever since we had our elections, many people both great and infamous, illustrious statesmen and dynastic kingpins, and political martyrs and despotic autocrats have made their mark in the history of our country -- a country shrouded by political change, social stagnation and economic degradation. Despite the fact that the country is ruled by the privilege few -- the rich, the influential and the powerful; many people have vied for political change in a country that needs heroes and martyrs.
Our constitution gave us a generic template on who can run for the Presidency and in this case, anyone, I mean ANYONE can run for power. But winning it is a different thing. The constitution specifically states that: "Under Article 7, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution, in order to serve as President, one must be at least 40 years of age, a registered voter, able to read and write, a Filipino citizen by birth, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years prior to election."
Even a quack doctor, a crack pot, a self-proclaimed billionaire and an ascetic messiah can all claim to be a winnable candidate for the presidency. Is it because they can pay the country's bulging national debt or their just a phone call away from God. Whatever the reason they may say, they remain the colorful sidelight in the electoral process. I'm just curious to know why some people waste their precious votes voting for these "interesting" characters. And through all the years these people run for public office are my fascination for these people taking their time to make me laugh no matter how serious their intentions are. We may laugh at them even though some of them want serious political change but making a mockery of the elections is not a funny thing.
However, some political nuisance is part of the bag of tricks used by some major candidates to confuse the voters by having candidates with similar names of their political opponents. The case of Joselito Pepito Cayetano is the political nuisance that haunted the senatorial aspiration of current Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. This is how political nuisance can disrupt the election process. As for the Supreme Court ruling against political nuisance, head to this link. There should be opportunities for alternative candidates to run but making the elections a crack session should always be prevented.
Going back in history, the Philippines used to have a two-party system patterned upon the United States. From time to time, there are third-party candidates that made a run for the presidency but its difficult to brand them as political nuisances. In the case of Emilio Aguinaldo and Gregorio Aglipay in the 1935 elections and Juan Sumulong who ran in the 1941 elections, they are reputable candidates at that standard. There is a thin red line between third-party candidates and nuisance candidates.
The first elections in the post-war period (1946) may well have been the first appearance of political nuisance who ran against the traditional politicians of the land. Hilario Moncado is probably the prototypical political nuisance even though he's "successful" man. But in a country ran by machine politics, a third-party candidate in the caliber of Moncado is a losing wannabe from the very beginning. As founder of the Moncadista Party, a pseudo-religious/political entity that took root in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Moncado was a man with a diverse knowledge, a polyglot and a general but was an eccentric in many different ways. Despite his powerful presence and charisma that befuddled people from the provinces (Visayas and Mindanao), he (and running mate Luis Salvador) got a stunning rebuke from the voting population as he only managed to get about 8,538 votes. All his senatorial lineup also went down with him in the elections, though some of them became successful politicians in later years like Carlos Padilla and Jose Climaco.
There was an absence of political nuisance in the 1949 elections even though the entry of Senate President Jose Avelino is considered as a significant participation but his crushing defeat makes us wonder if he is a capable candidate after he made an infamous speech. The way he said it makes a death sentence for his presidential aspirations: “We are not angels! What are we in power for? When Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He made the distinction between a good crook and the bad crooks. We can prepare to be good crooks.” Avelino only managed to get 419,890 votes in an election won by President Elipidio Quirino.
An unknown character entered in the 1953 elections, his name was Gaudencio Bueno, though a surname may sound a good luck charm but it was not as he managed to get a paltry 736 votes making him as the only presidential candidate never to receive at least a thousand votes. Its quite interesting where his votes came from.
With the death of popular president (Ramon Magsaysay), the 1957 presidential elections may have been the most open elections at that time as a host of third-party and nuisance candidates entered the fray. Its difficult to determine a nuisance candidate or an underperforming third-party candidate but in this case, Valentin Santos of the Lapiang Malaya and former senatoriable Alfredo Abcede made the run for the presidency. Santos (with running mate Restituto Fresto) and Abcede lost together with third-party candidates Manuel Manahan of the Progressive Party and Claro M. Recto of the Nationalist Citizen's Party.
The 1961 elections featured a larger cast of nuisance candidates. In this case, these candidates had the least votes ever gained and the fact is that even their combined votes is just 11! "Independent" candidates German Villanueva, Gregorio Lanza, Praxedes Floro and repeat candidate Antonio Abcede. In a statistical oddity, Floro became the only presidential candidate never to receive a single vote in the history of Philippine presidential elections.
The following Presidential election of 1965, may have been the elections with the most nuisance candidates permitted to run. Repeat candidates Bueno of the New Leaf Party and Villanueva were joined by Segundo Baldovi of Partido ng Bansa, Nic Garces of the People’s Progressive Democratic Party, Guillermo Mercado of the Labor Party, Antonio Nicolas, Jr. of the Allied Party and Blandino Ruan of the Philippine Pro-Socialist Party. Floro gained a single vote this time around.
The list of nuisance candidates allowed in the Presidential election of 1969 seemed to increase. I can't help but think that these candidates were allowed to sow confusion in the election even though the votes they were not significant to turn the elections upside down. Repeat candidates Villanueva and Bueno of the New Leaf Party became the first candidates to run for three presidential elections. They were joined two-time candidates Garces of the Philippine Pro-Socialist Party (formerly with the People’s Progressive Democratic Party) and Baldovi of Partido ng Bansa together with Pascual Racuyal, Pantaleon Panelo, Angel Comagon, Cesar Bulacan, Espiridion Buencamino and Benito Jose.
Actually, Racuyal is the only political nuisance who made effort to run for the presidency since 1935 but in some of the list, he was not listed. He may have been disqualified a couple of times. The perseverance of the eccentric Racuyal, despite total lack of success at that venture, earned him folk status. There were questions as to Racuyal’s mental stability. Among his promises should he be elected to the presidency was to construct roads out of plastic to prevent their further deterioration. When he invited Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson to be his running mate in the 1953 presidential elections, the latter called Racuyal “strictly fiction, utterly fantastic and incredible”. Nonetheless, as time passed, his repeated candidacy provided for an amusing mild diversion to a frequently heated election atmosphere. His lack ran out as he was disqualified as a nuisance candidate in the 1986 election.
After the 1969 election, the Philippines descended into a dictatorship but incessant US demands that President Ferdinand Marcos should restore democracy. So Marcos decided to lift martial law. The 1981 Presidential election was a travesty of our political institution as Marcos "won" a landslide against unlikely candidate Gen. Alejo Santos in a "sham" election. The unwilling candidate was not a nuisance but the circumstances of the elections make it a nuisance.
The 1986 election brought new faces in the lineup, Reuben Canoy of the Social Democratic Party and Narciso Padilla of the Movement for Truth, Order and Righteousness. This time, the perennial nuisance candidates were disqualified. However, its unfair to classify Canoy and Padilla as nuisance. The 1992 election is the most evenly contested election history as the candidates had even chances of winning.
However, nuisance candidates made a comeback in the 1998 Presidential election like the Santiago Dumlao-Reynaldo Pacheco tandem of the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Pagpapanibago and the Manuel Morato-Camilo Sabio tandem of the Partido Bansang Marangal. Sometimes, it may be safe to say that least-known and totally-unknown candidates may be branded as nuisance because of the obvious fact that they have no chances of winning. Prominent political candidates who picked up unknown running mates may have affected their chances of winning like Ismael Sueño of PROMDI (VP running mate of Emilio Osmeña) and Irene Santiago of Aksyon Demokratiko (VP running mate of Raul Roco).
In the succeeding elections, the Commission in Elections have already became stringent in removing nuisance candidates for the presidential elections but there are many of them running for lower positions. For now many of these nuisance candidates are already out of the running by the time they filed for certificates of candidacy. So you'll never see a crack doctor, a crack pot, a self-proclaimed billionaire or an ascetic messiah in the upcoming elections.
But the real face of this unique breed of political enigmas is no other than EDDIE GIL. This man is so hilarious that he even gained supporters. Unlike the typical political nuisance, Gil has the charisma and showmanship that captivated the nation. Though he never mounted a serious presidential campaign, his incessant boast of paying the country's national debt made his on- and off-screen controversies a daily staple sideline of primetime news.
Having nuisances in the presidential elections makes the entire event a political circus. Indeed, these personalities make the election an "American Idol"-like experience. For us voters, lets not waste our votes on voting for crackpot candidates but on promising ones.
"Hilario Moncado: A Hero or Charlatan?" by Perry Diaz