Now that the election is over, I can bare my chest off on some issues left unsaid during the campaign.
They were left unsaid because of strategic reasons; more so because I didn’t want Rep. Madrona and company to capitalize on these issues and use them against vice governor Alice Fetalvero and former representative Lolong Firmalo.
One of these things that perhaps Alice’s and Lolong’s opponents didn’t know was the fact that the opposition in Romblon was far from united as others believed it were.
Yes, Virginia, there was no united opposition to the Madrona-Beltran-Perez troika during the campaign. The “united” was “disjointed”, unorganized and in disarray. Had Madrona and Beltran knew it, they might have pounced on Alice and Lolong and the outcome of the election might have been different.
The “disunity” was fostered by no less than Secretary Bernie Fondevilla who had only contempt and immense dislike for Firmalo. It was actually Fondevilla who drove a wedge between the opposition in Romblon by being selective in dispensing his goodies only to allies who bow before him.
Last year, when the Alice-Lolong team was looking for a party, it was Fondevilla who orchestrated the oath-taking of Fetalvero and several of Firmalo’s mayors before the Nationalist People’s Coalition, despite the very fact that the NPC had no presidential candidate.
These mayors, such as Juliet Ngo Fiel of Looc, Dr. Fernald Rovillos of San Andres, and Bong Fabella of Calatrava, orchestrated with vice governor Fetalvero, SP member Mel Madrid, Atty. Jim Fondevilla and a few others in exerting pressure to Firmalo for him to also join the NPC, despite the fact that Firmalo had earlier swore his oath of party affiliation with the Liberal Party. It was reported that even Mayor Fabella had allegedly said in public he will not campaign for Firmalo.
Well, they had reason to pressure Firmalo because, sadly, the former representative himself did not inform them he was joining the LP. They begrudged the doctor for “going it all alone.”
But this was only a minor matter. Of grave import was the question of who was wielding the baton over Fetalvero et al. The answer was Bernie Fondevilla who, while undersecretary of agriculture aspiring to become secretary vice his boss, the controversial Arthur Yap, was already playing politics. Question: Did President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at that time know that Fondevilla was playing footsie with the NPC, and not with Lakas-NUCD which supported Gilberto Teodoro? Probably not.
So, the opposition in Romblon went in two separate ways—one going with Alice Fetalvero who filed her candidacy as NPC, and one going with Lolong Firmalo who, with second district SP member Benjamin Irao Jr. and another SP aspirant Dr. Venizar Maravilla, filed as LP. In the first district, only Rodne Galicha remained in Noynoy Aquino’s party.
Prior to the campaign, efforts were made to patch up the opposition to no avail. Playing a pivotal role in ensuring that a “unity ticket” materializes in Romblon was Dr. Tato Sison who initiated meetings between the Fetalvero and Firmalo camps.
Sure, both Alice and Lolong showed no animosity towards each other, but that was only in the surface. At the backrooms, there were obvious attempts, particularly on the part of the mayors to “ostracize” or even isolate Firmalo.
That there was no single campaign organization, no campaign plan, no campaign headquarters, and no campaign message for the opposition was indication of this disunity. Even the campaign color, which was supposed to be yellow, was dispensed with, with the group coming out with the red color which it justified as indicative of the group’s “fighting” or “palaban” stance.
Prior to the campaign, I said that the division of the opposition along two parties will pose problems. True enough, when the campaign began, Bernie Fondevilla asserted himself mightily as the man in charge to the consternation of Fetalvero. I heard that in the dispensation of campaign resources, Fondevilla directly distributed money to the mayors, not to Fetalvero, so much so that her campaign manager, Ramon Reandelar, when asked about his plans, allegedly could only answer in desperation, “I am only an office boy here,” showing his helplessness due to lack of funds for the Fetalvero campaign.
Before the election, I said that because Fetalvero et al were kowtowing to Sec. Fondevilla’s wishes, chances are that the Fetalvero congressional campaign will be seen as very dependent upon the whim and caprices of Fondevilla, and this will not sit well with the voters.
True enough, and as the results of the election will show, Madrona’s margin over Fetalvero was such that one would think Bernie Fondevilla deliberately played his card for Alice Fetalvero to lose. This is possible, because Bernie Fondevilla, as I have observed before, is entertaining a dream bigger than himself. He might challenge Madrona in 2013.
Unfortunately for Bernie, the platform from which he could launch his challenge is now punctured with large holes largely due to his ill-conceived strategy of isolating Firmalo and casting his fortune with a loser like Gilberto Teodoro. Also, unfortunately, his mayors and SP candidates who joined him in trying to belittle Firmalo heavily lost in their own bids. That’s karma.
That’s also a monumental mistake on the part of the opposition. And what is this mistake? It is to wage a campaign for reform based solely on the motivation of the alleged availability of campaign resources from Bernie Fondevilla, and not on the efficacy of the Romblon reform agenda. That’s beginning a right cause on the wrong foot.
The signs were easy to recognize. The May 10, 2010 election is a banner year for the opposition. The drama that was sure to be played was the battle of epic proportion between good and evil, lightness and darkness, good governance and ineptness, honesty and corruption, compassion and abuse, reform and the status quo, and progressive and the traditional.
Had Alice and his mayors didn’t misread these signs, they would not have sided with Bernie Fondevilla.
Had they, as advised, hewed consistently on the themes of the yellow revolution—the slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and the genuine change and reform agenda, the outcome would have been different.
Had they not danced to the traditional political music of Bernie Fondevilla, who is out of touch with ground realities, the outcome would have been that Budoy Madrona could be now licking his wounds like Beltran, her mayors would have renewed their respective mandates, and the opposition would have been more united.
But those are “ifs”--supposition--fit only for discussion. As I said, the election is over, so let’s begin the campaign for the election of 2013 by working hard for the people of Romblon.
Good luck to us.