Thursday, October 20, 2005


With the 2007 local elections just around the corner, the graduating class of aging and rickety officials are on the look out for replacements.

The mettle of statesmanship is measured by the uncanny ability of retiring political overseers in spotting understudies with great potential. This is a serious responsibility because the passing of the torch is crucial in the continuity of the dreams and vision of the soon to be legally cut local executive. The rationale on constitutional term limit is the dispersal of leadership. Our people deserve more choices from the array of prospective wannabes.

As term limit approaches it creates unimaginable problems to the incumbent. His protégés swarm around him for anointment. Past favours are resurrected. Secrets are gradually made open. Misfeasance done in the dark may soon be highlighted. The incumbent becomes sleepless. He reviews his bank accounts and toys on the alternatives. Either he goes abroad to lessen his worry or just ignore the subtle and the obvious entreaties. He soon finds himself looking at the available slots open to him. His dilemma is all the more becoming critical in the face of wanton thievery of the public coffers as what happened in the province of Quezon. Somebody has to cover his tracks. Or, he spends his retirement defending his reported unsullied honour, drains his loot, suffer the ignominy as an accused before the graft courts and the attendant ridicule of the unforgiving press. He understands the prospect of being on the losing end and the butt of pointed puns and fun. In sum, he hates being under the tire. For him there is no life after politics.

Dr. Jose Nolledo commented that political dynasties are “a social malady”. He vigorously fought for the inclusion of a constitutional proscription on these political aggrupations that spelt disaster on our national well-being. The records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission were replete with acrimonious debates on this. Yet, the prevailing compromise proviso was to leave the finer points thru an enabling law the ban on dynasties. It turned out that this exacting charter directive suffered legislative myocardial infarction. With Congress revived in 1988, nothing came up of this interdiction. The legislators simply had no muscle to pass this vital piece of legislation, among others. The effect, as history showed, was disastrous. We were once more stranded, while our neighbours galloped in unimaginable progress and development. Without a law banning dynasties, our shift to parliamentary system is nothing but a power grab by the local Osamas.

With the advent of local autonomy thru the local government code, LGUs became practically independent from the central government. Some local officials found decentralization as empowering, in the true sense of the word, politically-wise.

The power of appointment, fiscal independence, and the unmitigated power of control and supervision were enough to strengthen the political fort of the incumbent. With this broad arsenal of resources at the cusp the local leaders’ hand, and the term limits staring at them, the next best thing is to fortify the family. A family member as successor is the best insurance against a turbulent retirement. With a relation at the helm, nobody shall be bold enough to dig the fictitious files deep-sixed during the incumbents’ term.

The political leader, of whatever calibre, looks around his family members, as potential heir to his political throne. History abounds with chapters on monarchies thrown out because of excesses leading to oppression, inequality, corruption, and other “social maladies”. The modern day “elected” dynasties approximate the monarchies of the past. Our present day political dynasties are assured of daunting political organization and resources built by the predecessor-kin. Saying naman, ika, kung kanino lang mapapabigay. Pinaghirapan naman ito. The playing field is structurally fixed in favour of the dynasties. Who can beat the Jalosjoses in Misamis notwithstanding the sex scandal involving a kin? The Plazas in Agusan, the Barbers in Surigao, the Osmenas in Cebu, the Duranos in Danao, the Singsons of Ilocos, the Marcoses of Batac, the Villafuertes of Bicol, the Binays of Makati, and many others. Some of these well-entrenched patriarchs started as OICs during President Aquino’s time, yet by sheer talent on mastering the art of staying in power, succeeded. Of course there are exceptions. Proponents of dynasties justify them, “tao naman ang naghahal.”

Now some jaded local leaders of Quezon who think that they are the best gift God has given us are set to test the intelligence of our people.

Reports fly that the Suarez family is poised in fielding their members in the next elections. JJ Suarez as governor, another as mayor of their town Unisan, while the big boss as third district reelectionist congressman. The family even concocted a soap along the llamado-dejado line of a David versus a Raffiath highlighted by that preposterous pahiyas incident. The son is being pitted against the graduating deputado Raffy Nantes of the first district, and the father, against the full-termed mayor of San Narciso, Victor Reyes. The old man Suarez has dreams of being governor, but his shaky record in Lucena and some urban towns of Quezon made him think thrice, and going gone. The son, should he stand toe-to-toe with Mayor Reyes in Bondoc Peninsula as congressman, has slim chance of victory. The boy has no inclination of staying put in Bondoc, their turf. As number 4 Unisan councilor, the young man was nowhere most of the time. The same was true when he was an ex-oficio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as chief of the councilors’ league. Talk about public service. On the campaign trail these specimens harangue the hungry crowd of sacrifice once elected. But once elected, they make themselves invisible. The young Suarez, from the old man’s calculation, has greater chances as governor given his youth and exposure as vice governor. A showbiz connection, the old man reckoned, would send the voters of Quezon in wild paroxysm. “Si Pops lang dudumugin na ang entablado nata”. As a politician in his twilight years, just like the pharaohs of old, the old man Suarez wants a stab at immortality thru his progeny.

The self-proclaimed big boss of his home turf however has some sleepless nights as well. His now open rival for his soon to be vacated post is deeply based in southern side of Bondoc, the vote-rich towns of Catanauan, Mulanay, San Narciso, San Francisco, and of course, San Andres. The bulky mayor of San Narciso has a younger sibling in Buenavista, another Mayor Reyes. The barangay captains of the upper Bondoc towns are now enamoured with Victor Reyes because of his visibility and amiability, not to mention his being more galante. He attends every barangay fiesta in all the towns of the third district having announced in no uncertain terms his political plans for 2007. Mayor Victor has made the declaration clear even before the 2004 elections when he aligned himself with fellow ex-Lakas Chito Serrano. It can not be said that Victor’s 2007 foray has the prior nod of Raffy Nantes. The latter was simply lucky for having found a reliable, credible, and well-fortified ally in the third district.

There were already six mayors of Bondoc who have expressed support to Victor, and have distanced themselves from the old man, and whosoever is his anointed in 2007. The six mayors are disgruntled with the way Suarez conducts his politics: investment on all sides. The tactic is effective against an opponent with no wherewithal. One mayor said, “natutuwa siya kapag pinaglalaban yung pera niya.” The loss of self-respect is one legacy this type of politics leaves behind. Certainly, there is more to life than political victory. In a third world country, these politicians thrive as they are next meal equivalent. Their ideas are nothing spectacular, that when they die, they die the death of an unlamented beggar, forgotten and cursed.

From the first district, no local leader yet of credible stature has articulated his preference with the Suarezes. From all indications, Mayor Gapos as the only first district political leader of consequence has aligned himself with the coy Mayor Emralino. National Lakas stalwarts complain that the Candelaria mayor blows hot and cold.

In the second and the fourth districts, Nantes seems to have no problems. Without mentioning the mayors, the two congressmen, Procy Alcala and Erin Tanada, are seen in Nantes’ company in practically all visitations in their districts. Suarez was heard saying, “election spending is an art”, a clear dig against Emralino who reportedly spent millions in his gubernatorial attempt in 1998, and of course, Nantes who is well known for his generosity. People forgot that Suarez lost miserably in 1984 despite a well-oiled machinery against the quadrille of Quezon, Santos-Marquez-Quintana-Bolanos. Apparently, he learnt his lessons well in that electoral exercise.

The Suarezes hold on to their vaunted war machine like a tajor caressing his tinali. He was heard saying never again would he be sideswiped in any elections. Their moves against their likely rivals are nothing but mental warfare. Nagpapakiramdaman.

The goal is to frighten the enemy just what an unabashed 2007 vice governor candidate Kelly Portes of Pasig City is doing right now. He said he has spent millions since last year to dissuade unprepared and broke contenders to the vice governorship. Portes of Pasig City has even upset his patron whose plans for his issue are obviously to field the latter as heir to the throne. But exactly where, that is the problem. He even floated his clueless wife as benchwarmer, but the reception was less than lukewarm. With the construction of another white elephant, Quezon Medical Centre, in full swing, the wheel-chair bound retiree twiddles with a ball park of P100M as sop for a province-wide persuasion. “Sayang naman nito”. His pointmen Portes of Pasig City and JJ, deny that they spearheaded this project and therefore no crumbs share for them. “Makunat pare”. What emerges is a Suarez-Portes team up. Political watchers fear the flood of black propaganda in 2007. Mayor Arsenic Lacson has a fitting aphorism, “people who live in tin houses must never throw can openers at passers-by.”

That is all there is to it: money, money, money. There is nothing on what exactly their plans are for the economically backward Quezon. What these typical power-hand-me-downs are after are the perks of power and the status symbol of being the King of Quezon. Keeping up with the Singsons, Villafuertes, Ynareses, etc., is their burning ambition. They want Quezon to be synonymous with their names.

With nearly a million of empty stomachs and equally bare pockets in this province, these sponsors of dynasties may turn out to be successful for now. In the meantime, let us all consign noble aspirations and transcendental blah-blah to the landfills. As yuletide approaches let us all sing, “you better beg out, you without a clout, you better not try I’m telling you’d cry, dynasties are coming to town!”

Sonny E. Pulgar


sonny9999 said...

My dear boy Sonny,

You write too long as if there is no tomorrow. Your reading would be a little more interesting if you cut your paragraphs and be a little more direct.

You write meandearingly. If you want readers to go to your site, you should not write like a laywer writing pleadings. It turns people off.

Just a friendly advice.

sonny pulgar said...

ah ok.
gay-on ga.
thanks. my 3 other fans
say otherwise. too heavy
not to say the last word?

aurorablogs said...

Trust me, I know whereof I speak. My blog has more than 3 fans as visitors.

I do not mean to demean you but pleadings and blogging are two different disciplines. And while you may have something substantive to say, it is lost when the road is long with many a winding...

If I did not think your blog has merit, I would not even bother to visit you.

So, change your style. Again, trust me, you cannot possibly have the last word on blogging, not with your present style anyway.