CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/11 July) — It’s still two years till the next election but the political season is already heating up. It is brought on by no other than the compleat post-Martial Law politico, the trapo par excellence of Makati, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
After founding a dynasty to rule that city for longer than anyone cares, Jojobama—as ex-senator Rene Sagisag likes to call him—has his heart on the top leadership of our land. And he makes no bones about his Napoleonic ambition.
In fact, he’s declaring it emphatically by forming a new party to serve as his election vehicle. He figures that the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)—which he heads along with Juan Ponce Enrile and Joseph Estrada—isn’t good enough for him.
Creating a new party means that his previous affiliations were simply a matter of convenience, to be discarded when no longer useful. After all this is the age of disposables whether of products, principles, parties, or programs. And anyway UNA didn’t seem to mean much to the triumvirate, just an expression of an obsession to be number one (UNA!) in every way that feeds their vanity and ambition.
It’s still unclear though if these birds of the same feather will fly together, since Enrile is now a jailbird and Jinggoy—who had expected to be running mate—is likewise a jailbird for plunder.
Jojobama is the quintessential opportunist. During Martial Law he associated himself with the civil rights cause, tagging along with street parliamentarians on occasion, and latched on to Cory and the yellow forces like amor seco.
It paid off handsomely. It got him appointed lord of Makati and never blinked for a moment lest control should slip through his fingers.
Meanwhile he’s having a free ride with PNoy and the Liberals, hanging on to a cabinet position while taking potshots at the administration. It looks like he’s out to get the most of the free ride to the last mile at the expense of the Liberals and Mar Roxas, its putative standard bearer and therefore his election opponent.
But delicadeza is not on the dictionary of trapos, so expect Jojobama to hang on to the last minute! Meanwhile let’s see how he goes about forming a new party. Will it be a genuine party, with real members, with a defined platform and a real program of government?
Or is it just going to be the typical trapo game plan: create a new party, fill it with kindred politicos and supporters, include crony capitalists with pockets bulging with campaign funds, and buy the elections! Then with the presidency in hand, control the economy, apportion the spoils of victory, and live happily ever after!
Cunning and a master of illusion, Jojobama is very good at making the public believe he’s genuine, making voters think he’s a caring and generous leader, passionate about civil rights, fair-play, and honesty. In fact, go to Makati and discover how he’s really a (mis)leader!
True leaders don’t monopolize power, turning politics into a family enterprise, alternating leadership between him, his wife, and his children, then using the community’s wealth to buy the support and loyalty of the rabble who know no better. That’s greed, not leadership.
True leaders encourage and train others to become leaders, not just family members, providing opportunities for the talented and the promising to prosper and rise.
True leaders provide for transition and a smooth takeover by a new generation after their term. They do not keep others from becoming leaders, nor abuse power by monopolizing it, or establish a dynasty to keep the power secure as an heirloom to be passed on to other members of the family.
True leaders are statesmen, visionary, inspiring, empowering. Those who merely pretend to be these are not leaders but misleaders!
Misleaders manipulate the community, control its politics, and exploit its economy. They coddle capitalists and chambers of commerce and turn them into cheering squads, influence peddlers, spectators, or beggars of political favors.
Although their constituents (voters) are the primary stakeholders of government, misleaders dominate them, mute their voices, and hold them at bay, powerless.
Misleaders call the people “Boss” but treat them like cattle, milking cows. They are vain, selfish, and greedy without limits.
Well-meaning citizens who dare to challenge misleaders may not match their iron determination and deadly intent—as was the case in the Ampatuan massacre. But they should take heart and be resolute, not be easily intimidated, and be mindful that they are sovereign citizens with a righteous cause.
History has shown that no power except the Almighty’s is more compelling than an assertive brand of citizen sovereignty.
Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. firstname.lastname@example.org