COMMENT: Madness on the rise (Parts 1 and 2)

MindaNews reported on January 17 that Gov. Manny Piñol, now completing his three-term limit, had decided to seek election for the vice governor of North Cotabato instead of running for congressman of the first district as he had earlier announced.

Why humble himself as the running mate of his vice governor, Jesus Sacdalan? Why not run for congress from where, should he win, he can help the province more especially if Sacdalan wins? But the messianic in him changed his mind.

“I cannot sacrifice the welfare of my people in my province. It is in this light that I have decided to run for vice governor,” he declared in his weekly program, “Pareng Gob” over radio DXND. Bet, should he win, the program will be renamed “Pareng Vice Gob”.

He added, to quote MindaNews, that being the vice governor “is ‘the only way’ to ensure that the programs he started that lifted North Cotabato from being one of the poorest provinces to becoming one of the 30 most progressive provinces in the country would be continued”.

And more: He “fears that his successor might discredit the programs … even if these are effective and start a new set of programs all over again. He said this could stunt the development” of North Cotabato.

Piñol’s declarations are revelation.

First, to him, he is indispensable to the province and people of Cotabato. His programs are the best — their salvation and eternal progress. Unless continued, their future is uncertain. So he has to stay, even just as vice governor, to watch over these programs.

This messianic complex is not Piñol’s alone. This is true to many elected leaders, a driving force in their quest for perpetuity in power. But this is madness just the same.

Second, Piñol is sure of winning the vice governorship and of Sacdalan winning the governorship. That’s how sure he is that the people of North Cotabato so idolize him and his vice governor that they will entrust their future to nobody else.

But what if he loses even if Sacdalan wins? What if he wins and Sacdalan loses. But I think, in his madness, Piñol does not dwell on these possibilities. Should the latter happen, it’s madness to think that the new governor will be beholden to him.

Third, Piñol is sure that should he and Sacdalan win, the latter will continue his programs before introducing his own, perhaps, with Piñol’s imprimatur. Piñol is so sure that Sacdalan will continue sitting in his shadow.

Or, are Piñol’s declarations the conditions for his support of Sacdalan without which the latter will not be elected? Or, a warning that should Sacdalan not follow Piñol’s programs, Piñol will again run for governor in 2010 to depose him?

Does Piñol realize that his declarations are a formula of destabilization should he and Sacdalan win the May election? He should look into the history of many political alliances that have turned into bitter rivalries. As governor, Sacdalan will surely want to leave a legacy of his own. It’s madness to think that he will not.

***

MindaNews, on January 24, featured another Manny being drawn into the gathering election madness. Boxing idol Manny Pacquiao, of this city, is being prodded to run for mayor or for congressman of the first district of South Cotabato by the administration party, Lakas-MCD. He is the hope of the party to wrest political control of city hall or of the district from the Antonino-Acharon combine.

Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr., Pacquiao’s No. 1 fan, said he welcomes Manny’s entry into the political ring against him. Anyway, politics is not boxing but governance. The mayor’s statement is wisdom for Pacquiao and the Lakas city hierarchy to ponder upon seriously.

Is Pacquaio qualified to run either for city mayor or for congressman? Basicallly, yes. He is a registered voter and a citizen of good standing.

Is he highly or competently qualified? If winning multi-million dollar boxing matches in the United States; if earning millions of pesos for promoting commercial products; if doing a movie on his own feats – all these are preparation for the mayorship and congress, then he is so qualified.

When Pacquaio said that he was seriously considering his options, he confessed that he does not know what it takes to be a mayor or a congressman. He should ask the Lakas-MCD city bigwigs what they are pushing him for.

These bigwigs admitted that former Mayor Rosalita Nunez would be the most qualified candidate for mayor but her family doubt their capacity to raise the money needed to match the Acharon camp’s. Meaning, the party is tapping Pacquaio’s millions.

Of course, Pacquiao is very popular. The party thinks that his popularity and millions can catapult him to either city hall or congress. That’s the first, if not their only, concern – to recapture political leadership. Pacquiao’s incompetence is to their advantage as they can control and direct him according to their thinking and interests.

Does Pacquaio realize that should he win either the General Santos City mayorship or the first congressional seat of South Cotabato, he has to abandon his boxing profession? Is he ready to do that? Have his backers told him that?

Even in their madness Pacquiao’s backers should have the honesty to see the incompatibility of the boxing profession with governance or congressional representation. Should Pacquaio win either post and does not give up his boxing profession, how could he keep both when each needs full time and year-round dedication?

As a boxer Pacquiao has the physical and mental toughness. But his success is not due to that alone but largely to good coaching and training. And in the ring his coach and trainers are with him giving him instructions after every round.

Governance is different. Coaches and trainers are out of place. The biggest and most recent example was then President Joseph Estrada. His 32 or more expert “coaches” failed to make him govern correctly.

Pacquaio and his backers should not take for granted the people who hail him as their boxing hero. They should not think that the people cannot distinguish between boxing and governance.

(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You may e-mail your comments to [email protected] This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )

 

 

Last of two parts

 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 January) —  In the national scene, what we are seeing today is politics of winning to remain in or regain power shamefacedly to the maddening degree. This is the politics that highlights the irrelevance of political party and issues — the politics of personal ambition, enmity and popularity.

 

Two groups have remained bitter contenders since the 2001 election –  one orbiting around President Gloria Macapgal Arroyo and the other around deposed President Joseph Estrada. The one clinging to power, the other wanting to regain power.

 

Some members of the groups have been changing loyalties because of disenchantment, of conflicting political interests, of clash of personal pride and lost favors.  All the changing they publicly declare to be in the name of national interest and the people.

 

Irrelevant

 

The irrelevance of the party and issues became pronounced in 1998 election when two big political parties each coalesced with the parties of two presidential  candidates.  The coalitions carried the combined names of the coalescing parties.

 

Just as pronounced were the circumstances around the coalition. Joseph Estrada, so extremely popular, became the standard bearer of  the LDP- PMP coalition, even if his Partido ng Masang Pilipino was new and smaller than the Laban Demokratikong Pilipino.

 

In the other main coalition, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also very popular, avoided clashing with Estrada by accepting the offer of the ruling Lakas-NUCD to be the running mate of its president, Jose de Venecia, thus its coalition with Kabalikat ng Mamayang Pilipino, Arroyo’s neophyte party.

 

Both Estrada and Arroyo won carried by their popularity, not by the big parties of the coalitions.  For the first time, the Filipinos witnessed the irrelevance of  political parties. Issues were relegated to the backseat with popularity at the steering wheel. .

 

In the May 2001 midterm election, Arroyo fielded a senatorial slate bannered “People Power Coalition” – not solely from the administration party but of those deemed to have played leading roles in the People Power II (EDSA II) that catapulted her to power. No issues, no party – just the euphoria of January 20, 2001 – mattered.

 

In the 2004 election, Arroyo ran under the 4K Coalition which included disgruntled senatorial candidates from the Estrada camp and excluded Lakas-NUCD stalwarts, including its president, Vice President Guingona, and Vice President for the Visayas, Congressman Ernesto Herrera – both having been critical of Arroyo.

 

With Estrada directing the so-called United Opposition, he handpicked Fernando Poe Jr., a most popular movie idol, as its standard bearer with the senatorial hopefuls trooping to his detention for his blessing.  This in itself is madness.

 

Leaders of the LDP, PDP-Laban, and other parties of the coalition, deferred to Estrada calling their slate not “United Opposition” but “Koalisyon ng Nakakaisang Pilipino”  or  “Coalition of United Filipinos”.  Like the 4K Coalition, KNP relegated the parties and issues to the backseat. Poe’s popularity powered the coalition.

 

­May 2007

 

The forthcoming May election promises not the return to politics of party, programs and issues.  It will still be politics of popularity and personality.  And worse, of enmity and disenchantment.

 

The Arroyo group is fielding a senatorial slate, “Team Unity,” not necessarily from members of Lakas-MCD and its coalescing parties but of politicians not critical of President Arroyo. Popular come-backing has-been senators who have become disenchanted with Estrada are reported as being courted and the opposition ranks being raided.

 

Estrada’s group is reported as doing the same.  It is wooing reelectionist senators who won under “People Power Coalition” in 2001 but who have become critical of the President and her government.  The others are those to the liking of Estrada including his son, the mayor of San Juan.

 

Issues

 

Next month and the next, the configurations of the opposing Arroyo and Estrada senatorial slates will become clear. However, if reports are reliable indicators, the national election will be a tussle between the Arroyo and Estrada forces fueled by the Arroyo-opposition enmity.

 

Again political parties will play no leading role in shaping the political future of the country as they will be relegated to be watchdogs and custodians of coalition votes.  Whatever are their platforms will be lost in the din of recriminations and popularity glare and jingles.

 

It is very much in doubt if the Lakas-MCD-led Arroyo coalition and the United Opposition would bring to the fore the issues of charter change, the legitimacy of the Arroyo presidency, and the economic programs of Arroyo or the lack of them.  Bringing these to the people gives the people the chance to resolve the political crisis.

 

Nothing Else?

 

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, in its January 22 editorial asked: “Is there no one else?” — repeating the same question by Marinduque Rep. Edmundo Reyes during the impeachment case against President Arroyo in 2005 – to question the hold of Estrada on the political opposition from his detention quarters.

 

The same question may be asked of President Arroyo.  Is there no one else who can lead this country?  One who can unite the leaders – the unity ever eluding Arroyo and  breaching wider and deeper the more she calls for unity?  For while appealing for unity, she calls all critics “my enemies” and reminds “those who want to pick old fights, we’re game” – thus her taunt ending her SONA 2006.

In like manner, it should be asked:  Is there nothing else – other than popularity, personalities, and political enmity – that, presented to the electorate, will enable them to elect legislators and local officials who can unite for the ultimate good of the country?

 

Should the May 2007 election not be a referendum on the legitimacy of Arroyo’s presidency? Making this an election issue will allow the people to put the controversy to rest.

 

Should the amendment of the constitution – the shift to parliamentary form of government and other major amendments – not be an election issue? Where Congress cannot decide, let the people do. 

 

Should the economic programs of the Arroyo government – especially the “super region” proposals — not be a major issue? Then President Arroyo will know whether or not she has the support of the Filipinos.

 

There should be more, including local issues with national significance.

 

Madness

 

For the Arroyo and Estrada groups to insist in perpetuating grudge elections is madness

And so is perpetuating political alliances only aimed at winning but breaking up in pursuit of individual interests after the win. That will only perpetuate instability. 

 

And more so is presenting winnable slates loaded with popular mediocre and has-beens. They will be like the present House of Representatives that will first seek the president’s imprimatur before making a major legislative action or policy decision.

What’s happening in the senatorial slates will not spare the congressional and local.  May the Holy Spirit enlighten the minds of Arroyo, Estrada and their like. 

(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You may e-mail your comments to [email protected] This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )

 

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