Politicians As Product Peddlers

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

It is difficult to imagine Claro M. Recto advertising a brand of soap, or Jose W. Diokno endorsing a brand of toothpaste, or Santanina Rasul lending her lovely face to a skin-whitening product. All three were once senators of the Republic, to whom the serious business of deciding what directions we should pursue as a nation had been entrusted. The high-mindedness with which they tried to discharge their duties as national leaders would have clashed with the trivial and superficial message of typical commercials. They would certainly have been stunned to see the growing list of incumbent senators who, unmindful of the effect on the public image of the institution they represent, have crossed the line to commercial modeling.

Today’s senators will, of course, vehemently object to any suggestion that they take their responsibilities as legislators lightly just because they have agreed to become product endorsers. No doubt, many of them take their job as legislators seriously. But what point are they making when they style themselves as product peddlers? If the idea is to augment their incomes by moonlighting as commercial models, then voters are entitled to tell them to make up their minds on whether they are decision-makers for the nation, or sales promoters for commercial products.

The same norm applies to movie personalities like Senators Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, who were elected as legislators but have continued to work as actors. Presumably, they ran for public office because they wanted to serve in government. They could not have been unaware of the financial sacrifice this entails. To argue that there is no conflict between being a public servant and earning a living as a professional actor, model, or entertainer on the side betrays a lack of understanding of the vocation of political leadership. Political office is a full-time job. The employer is the nation, no less; that is why the holder of a public position is expected to give to it all the attention and respect it deserves. [...]

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Read also, "Lacson: Endorsement, yes; self-promotion, no", from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

This too, "
Senators as models in huge billboards", by Hern P. Zenarosa of Manila Bulletin.

And also, "Model Senators", by blogger Smoke.