Blurbs: Ironic comparisons of Philippine Elections to Job Applications

Image by Becky Phan from Unsplash

Philippine National and Local elections are coming soon. In my country, this season is similar to a circus where all candidates come up with their magic tricks to lure voters to elect them in positions of power. The upcoming elections in May 2022 are considered “high stakes” as there is growing dissatisfaction among Filipinos on how the current administration handled the various issues it has faced, with its covid-19 response as the nail on its coffin. On top of that, there is also the possibility of the son of the Philippines’ former dictator (his popularity as strong as it can ever be) to be elected to the highest seat of the land. 

I have collected some ironic comparisons of Philippine elections versus typical job applications. It is only right to make these comparisons to job applications because these politicians are applying for jobs. This is not just any job, this is to lead over 109 million citizens amidst an ongoing pandemic and crisis. The voters are ultimately their hiring managers. I know I’m not alone in having these sentiments for sure, I’ve seen these sentiments “meme-fied” on social media. 

Image by Bianca Ackermann from Unsplash
  • Requirements for both blue and white-collar jobs in the Philippines are much more stringent than the qualifications to run for public office – In the Philippines, the criteria to hold national leadership positions are so flimsy, it is harder for an ordinary Filipino to be hired for a blue-collar job such as Security Officer, or a white-collar job like a licensed Accountant. For example, to be eligible to run as President, one must be a natural-born Filipino Citizen, at least 40 years of age on election day, able to read and write, and a registered voter. Yes, you read that right: there are no required prior public leadership or lawmaking experience, no requirements for a clean background check, and no medical tests either. Meanwhile, to apply for, let’s say a Security Officer, one must have considerable physical strength, clean background check, must be physically fit and free from drugs, must submit various forms of clearances, including police and barangay clearances, etc. Quite funny, no? Isn’t the job of leading a country and steering its growth, peace, and order as high stakes as ensuring the safety and security of a large office building? 
  • In typical job applications, applicants can be rejected when a negative reference is given to them, or if they are found to be involved in illegal/immoral acts. Meanwhile, in public office, you can be involved in an ongoing criminal case and still run and win an election – This is about my mention of having a clean background check before being offered a job. In the Philippines, politicians with ongoing legal cases, no matter which level, can still run for office and work while they are in prison. The only ones not allowed to run are convicted criminals. Heck, there are still some that can still run and be elected despite being convicted (thanks to government pardons, or serious loopholes in the electoral and criminal system). On the other hand, if a potential applicant for an office job was bad-mouthed by the company’s current employees for reasons like, “he didn’t split commissions with me / she is arrogant / he does not work well in a team, etc”, you can be sure the employer is highly likely not to hire the candidate. 
Image by Wai Siew from Unsplash
  • Private companies don’t encourage having multiple family members as employees or decision-makers to avoid conflict of interest and bias, yet the Philippine government seems to be a family-owned business – In the world of work, unless the company is family-run, potential employees are obliged to disclose if they have family members working in the same company, some actively discouraging it. Due to familial ties, there is a strong likelihood of conflict of interest and bias if family members work for and run the company. Meanwhile, in the Philippine government, it is an accepted tradition for clans to run towns, cities, and the country to be governed by a single clan. It is assumed that the same level of “competence” and “good values” demonstrated by the predecessor will be the same as traits that will be demonstrated by all of its family members. Sometimes, family members get elected by the virtue of their surnames, and nothing else, making it their “birthright” to “lead” their respective bailiffs. Kinda reminds me of Daenerys’ entitlement in claiming the Iron Throne in Games of Thrones. 
  • When you apply for a job, do you include the accomplishments of your parents?  – When you apply for a job, you highlight your accomplishments to show that you are capable of the job. You don’t include your parents or your relatives, because your work performance has nothing to do with them (again, unless it is a family business where you worked with your parents/relatives to help the company reach its goals). So I find it incredibly odd that a son/daughter, running for the same position as his or her parents tout the “accomplishments” of their parents as if it is theirs. Does having the same surname or same DNA makeup guarantee you will perform on your job as well as your parents? Not necessarily, and yet, again in Philippine culture, It is assumed that the same level of “competence” and “good values” demonstrated by the predecessor will be the same that will be shown by all of its family members.
  • When you apply for a job, do you include the accomplishments of your parents?  – When you apply for a job, you highlight your accomplishments to show that you are capable of the job. You don’t include your parents or your relatives, because your work performance has nothing to do with them (again, unless it is a family business where you worked with your parents/relatives to help the company reach its goals). So I find it incredibly odd that a son/daughter, running for the same position as his or her parents tout the “accomplishments” of their parents as if it is theirs. Does having the same surname or same DNA makeup guarantee you will perform on your job as well as your parents? Not necessarily, and yet, again in Philippine culture, It is assumed that the same level of “competence” and “good values” demonstrated by the predecessor will be the same that will be shown by all of its family members.
Image by Lisanto from Unsplash
  • For typical employees, good manners and right conduct (GMRC) is required and you could be punished for not abiding by this, yet certain leaders can get away with it. – Most companies have an employee handbook detailing the dos and don’t within an organization and in being an employee. Some of these things can be found in employment contracts too. Even SMEs who might not have proper structures in place have some loose form of expectations of good conduct from their employees. Apparently, in the Philippine government, this GMRC stuff doesn’t apply to them. A leader can hurt someone physically, say all the crass words they want in front of the whole world, steal money from the people, and it will be lauded as being “real” and “authentic”. I suppose times have changed and these sorts of things are the in things now and are expected of every politician. 

Such ironies have run in our country for ages. It seems politicians in the Philippines are exempt from the standards of a job application process that we mere mortals have to go through. Hopefully, with the record number of voters in this coming election, we can somehow make changes, even just a tiny bit. 

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