Now that we’re passed the deadline for filing the certificates of intention for senators, the list of the wannabes is out. So far, we have some 30 or less individuals who have some fighting chance in the next elections. Majority of these senatorial bets are professional politicians, i.e., with name recall, they rely on the coveted political position as source of livelihood. Some use the job as security or protection to their vested interests. A good number are on ego trip being propelled by the reflected glory of their superstar-spouses and pedigree.
With the onset of the electoral exercise spells the onset of election hustlings. We now see the congregations of electoral shysters in conventions and political aggrupations. People posing as kingmakers are on the look out for the gullible bets with lots of moolah.
A gathering of turncoats
We saw this spectacle last February 12, 2007 at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel. Practically all politicians of different colors and sizes flocked at the appointed venue of the Kampi National Convention to profess faith and loyalty to the President.
Just barely a year ago the President found herself all alone comforted by her close relatives while her political allies were either jumping at the other side or were merely just jumping for joy. The latter kind was into cooking some expedient political or commercial manoeuver pleased with the thought that the President was on the magnanimous mode. A favor here or there assures some loyalty. And what a dishing out was done. Nobody knows if she’s on the drawing board charting the course of survival. As events unfurled, she wasn’t killed, she remained standing and stronger in the Nietzschean mould. She kept her footing thanks to FVR and the genius of JdV, with the people’s tired-as-a-dodo plus the sprinkling of loose change from the Gang of Four ensuring that the take from the RUT got rot. A guy name Pichay got a slot in the party’s top dozen. A Lakas top pointman, he was seen living it up at the Ilang-Ilang lounge of Macarthur’s lair surrounded by gofers and hangers-on. The sight was scripted no less, evoking magnetic personality au naturelle, a spice in the dish of politics. But the guy looks like a sorry lot. He personified nothing but a bagman of one hotshot with a destiny to fulfil and who is never in the wrong time and place or company. Stories have it that this guy has the power of ubiquity, with a number of planes tucked under his name. He is touted as a publisher of sleazy tabloids and a watering hole in Ermita. And that earns him gazillions? Why does he want to be senator? Surely not to preside in its requiem mass. Richard Nixon reminded Francois Mitterrand of the latter’s vociferous protestations of term extension during Charles de Gaulle time. What does he feel now that he’s enjoying the amendment? Mitterrand replied that “as an opposition yes we oppose that, but once we’re in power, the reasons no longer obtain”.
What made the goose bumps in the Manila Hotel Kampi reunion was the sprouting from all over, the dregs of Philippine politics.
Was that a rewind of the infamous Nacionalista Party convention in the same venue crowning the party’s standard bearer in the historic 1965 elections that saw the downfall of the current President’s father? Wasn’t it Carlos P. Romulo who immortalized the quip, “in politics, there is no substitute for victory!” In that convention, the play (or role?) of numbers gave us a glimpse of the next twenty years. Emmanuel Pelaez got 444 while FM gathered 777 delegates. In his dying moments, again CPR extolled the unlamented FM as the “quintessential Filipino”.
At the Kampi bash remnants of the ante-Edsa Nacionalista party and Unido of Doy Laurel were there, together with the stalwarts of the post-EDSA LDP of Mitra and Angara, the Lakas-CMD of FVR and JdV, the Liberal Party holdouts, detritus of Marcos’ KBL and the Partido ng Masang Pilipino of Erap. Perhaps Claro M. Recto’s Citizens’ Party sent a delegation too? Somewhere a rampart of Raul Manglapus’ People’s Progressive Party was sipping cold coffee.
Twenty years after the 1987 Charter, nothing came up with the reforms it envisioned. We are now confronted with the worst of ourselves. A great number of us now realise that Marcos vision was after all some kind of right.
Did Marcos define what turncoatism meant? Were the seeds of parliament tended by Marcos? Was intelligent governance a Marcos cornerstone? How about grassroots participatory democracy? Marcos had a vision. Unfortunately, he was earning a living on the side.
Thirty five years after the Marcos KBL monolith we still battle the demons of third world country democracy. One statesman said winning an election in this godforsaken underdeveloped country doesn’t mean anything except filling up a vacant uneventful time. Filipino politicians die and forgotten. They die of natural causes, shot, or pinned in a car crash. And never to be uttered again. Our brief history is interspersed with a couple of great men while the rest were simply minding the store of the family.
We don’t have a monarchy, yet some tribal leaders in a remote Bondoc Peninsula, for instance, want their names etched on substandard provincial road (the filched amount formed part of the monarchy’s treasure).
The Kampi registration circa February, 2007 was frantic. Each delegate was watching his back because the other guy from the same town, city or province was also invited or gate crashed. We even saw the spectacle of a group of delegates snatching the pre-printed IDs of the rival bets while the organizers looked the other way. The more the merrier was their instruction.
Somebody from the sidelines, a greying man with chubby cheeks, was grinning from ear to ear. He was thinking aloud that he duplicated his mentor’s feat who seconded him in the erstwhile Trade Ministry. This chap simply could not wash off the lackey persona he perfected in the 70s as he remained steadfast to being a page of the Palace tenants.
As a first term congressman, Louie Villafuerte, dominated the debates in the House to bulldoze the Con-Ass tack. He was successful in railroading the House Rules amendments pruning the processes on bills passage. He was brilliant undoubtedly by showing off the wares of an eloquent debater. But he was stopped on his tracks when the people finally spoke. And like a wet kitten vanished into the woods. His resurrection was in the Kampi convention strutting off the role as Chairman. To in, rumors have it that this cheap operator exacts matriculation fee in exchange for provincial chairmanship. One fading congressman from South Luzon was conspicuously absent from the Manila Hotel Shindig. While the rest of the ordinary mortals were seen scampering for registration forms, filling them up, and craned their necks to be noticed by the Bicolano godfather. One week after the Manila Hotel get together, the balding South Luzon solon, his son in tow, were proclaimed as the Chairman and Vice Chair, respectively of their province. Then bedlam ensues. Bahala na kayo diyan, ika the Oragon shyster. Easily the Bicol lawmaker made the former Batangueno Justice Secretary green with envy. Madaling kumita, ika, wala pang kaso, lalo pang tumibay.
Now the party is busy into the proverbial arbitration. This happened in KBL, Unido, LDP, Lakas, and this time Kampi.
This is a ruse. The Palace tenants want the locals scramble for anointment as the official wannabe. The rationale for whetting the locals is the exercise logistics. No locals want to spend their own money in elections unless backstopped by jueteng or drug lords’ pot as in the case of Pampanga. With the national government support the candidate is assured of generous assistance. Twenty billion pesos hidden funds already disbursed on paper six months prior are ready for the tapping. Recalcitrant locals are denied help. This President has perfected the art of fund funnelling. In 2004 they polished the system of micro distribution. With the ease in transport and communication, Kampi or any official party, can summon the entire barangay officials in Malacanang. Pointmen are now scattered to dispense envelops to barangay council men, health workers, tanods, daycare workers, lupong tagapamayapa, teachers, and of course the mayors and their Sangguniang Bayan. With this approach, the bane of fund repacking is averted. This shows the zero trust of the national party leadership to the district or provincial leaders, i.e., the congressmen and governors. Under this mode of cash allocation, the efficiency of body counts and translation into numbers is guaranteed. This is just one department. There is the other department…….
Dr. Martin Bautista
Who said everything is lost in this country. We doff our hat to Dr. Martin Bautista of Ang Kapatiran for his surprising entry in the world of politics.
His name was first mentioned in one broadsheet as one of the four contenders from Ang Kapatiran, the only political party that published its gamut of ideology. He was described as a gastro-enterologist, married to a pulmonologist, who cut his teeth in Oklahoma.
A couple of days later, he was seen being interviewed by Veronica Baluyot over Channel 4. His exchange with the anchor told much about himself. He said that he established a lucrative practice in the middle of Oklahoma, a central state in the US. He attributed his success to his availability practically 24/7 and his clientele appreciated the dedication. He was recognized by his peers and was treated with deference by the State where he practiced garnering awards and honours. He is married to an equally talented medical specialist. He regularly visits this country and in the process the will to serve thru politics sank in. His answers to the host’s queries were direct and clear and rhetoric free.
What was fascinating was the way he listened to each and every question fielded by Nicky Baluyot, squinting with a tilted head towards the other person, as if a patient wanted prompt relief from his affliction.
And that’s what exactly Dr. Martin conveyed himself to be. We need him, please. He is a whiff of unbelievable fresh wind. Some dregs in the palace are now out there digging muck against the good doctor, googling anything worse about him, just in case an avalanche roll for Ang Kapatiran.
A vote for Dr. Bautista and Ang Kapatiran is not only an intelligent choice but also an expression of protest against the excesses of our inane political exercises. This duplicates the first people power we gifted the world with, thru the ballot. Let us prove to the world that in these parts, there remain a thinking, decent, and honourable people.
But there’s another department……