Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Same cast, same storyline, same plot: The Romblon May 10, 2010 theater is more of the same

I would have loved to see some bloggers, or columnists, or some progressive liberals, or one or two Romblon Sun writers, or a few outstanding Romblon State University academics, or some leading retired government officials with impeccable records of public service, beat the December 1, 2009 deadline and filed certificates of candidacies (CoCs) for the various elective posts in the province for the May 10, 2010 election.
I would have loved to see on the ballot a few names: Manny David, Lyndon Molino, Orville Gabuna, Gilbert MiƱano, Robert Muros, Dr. Tato Sison, Monching Reandelar, Marilyn Rios, and Atty. Beling Tomas. Their candidacies could lend heft and substance to an otherwise narrow, lightweight field.

I miss Manong Jules Fortuna. Had he not succumbed to early death, he would have been a congressional candidate and raised the bar a little bit higher for an issue-laden campaign.

As it is, the crop of candidates slugging it out for the election, except for a few personalities, is characteristically boring, shallow, and does not invite interest. In short, the crop does not inspire hope. It provokes dismay.

Many of the candidates that we will see knocking on our doors when the campaign begins on March 26 have been tested and found wanting.

Consider the wily Budoy Madrona. Or the ignorant Jojo Beltran, or the joker Sam Romero, or the thug Rolindo Perez, and you will understand this observation. Consider the repeaters, or re-electionists, in some municipalities and you will know what I mean.

I mean, why do we see the same characters, the same storylines, the same boring plot, and most likely, the same conclusion in what should be an exciting election drama in 2010? Why do we see the same dogs that would bark each other out for the flesh-less bone now called Romblon sporting spanking new collars?

With these names on the ballot, it would seem Romblon is running out of leaders.

Let’s take a closer look at the protagonists who would do battle.

My prediction that Lolong Firmalo and Jojo Beltran will run after each other’s throats in the post of governor has so far been accurate. This fight will be interesting because it would be a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, saint and sinner, sincere and pa-wardi-wardi.

Well, Lolong is not entirely lily-white. Some friends have told me he must be selective with those he associates with. He is so trusting and often ends up being sold down the river. I so believe.

But whatever. Lolong versus Jojo would be a clash, with vote-rich Odiongan as battleground, between a true-blue Asi Odionganon and a pretender-claimant that he is an Asi Odionganon. And with this as the frame of the debate, I repeat my prediction—so far materially uncontested and even with a few bloggers saying I might be correct, that Lolong will emerge victorious against Jojo. Now place your bet.

On the post for vice governor, the mild-mannered Mel Madrid will face the much-maligned Rolindo Perez, a former district engineer who seemed to have been born with controversy as twin. Perez’s image is that of a man nak indi masilakan dahil ging papadungan it pulis. He is so averse to sunshine prompting one to comment that he is Romblon’s Imelda Marcos.

I don’t know Manong Mel’s record, but he seems harmless compared to Perez, whose notoriety as Budoy Madrona’s acolyte, patron, and friend is well-known that if only Madrona had his way, he would have fielded Perez as his governor opposite Beltran. Know that pitting allies against each other is Budoy’s forte, so this would have been tenable. As it turned out, Budoy nipped in the bud the ambition of Gil Moreno for vice governor and installed Perez instead. Moreno can wait. For nothing, like what Sam Romero had done.

The battle for representative is what Romblomanons are drooling over. The vice governor, Alice Fetalvero, a true lady with a history of winning uphill battles, has thrown her scarf into the ring and will hack it out with Budoy. Oh, boy.

Fetalvero has a successful electoral history. She had completed three terms as mayor of Calatrava, was elected member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and in 2007 disposed of her opponents for vice governor in surgical fashion, getting close to 50,000 votes, more than the 43,000 votes that Gov. Beltran got. This woman has vote-getting power.

Fetalvero’s handicap is her lack of financial resources, which she admits, but if she plays her cards right, she could end up as Romblon’s Grace Padaca, who trounced up the powerful Dy clan in Isabela.

Budoy’s record, on the other hand, is spotty, although also nothing to sneeze at.

He completed three-terms as congressman; a term as governor; got ambushed by Firmalo when he attempted a comeback in 2004, but a return bout in 2007 had him turning the tables against his ambusher.

Budoy Madrona’s strength lies on his political machinery which straddles both sides of the fence. Can you imagine he can run two candidates for one post and still emerge unscathed? Budoy is an issue candidate. He issues political largesse by the ton. All for himself.

The question now is: Can Alice Fetalvero slay a giant? The betting is on.

But before you do, I would advise you to consider some imponderables. One such imponderable is that Budoy is carrying two heavy albatrosses in the May 2010 election, courtesy of Jojo Beltran and Rolindo Perez. I need not elaborate. Smaller ones also hobble the incumbent, namely, candidates such as Sam Romero and Geminiano Galicia who have checkered histories.

Of course, the greatest imponderable would be the performance records of the warring parties. If the Romblomanon voters are wise—and this is the line of most of the current crop of politicians, that ‘maayoy ngasing ka mga botante, ing babaton yangey ka kuwarta, pero ka ina-boto’y iba’ , then, we would have an exciting race.

I would love to hear the issues in the campaign trail. I would hate personal attacks, for these do not educate the voters, neither they move the provincial GNP.

If I were running any of the campaigns, I would require my candidates to stay on the offensive and stick to the issues, explaining what matters to the voters, not what matters to the candidates. I would require them to re-invent themselves with crisp and to-the-gut messages, and ask them what they would do once in office and to put these in writing to be used as campaign paraphernalia.

Alas, but that is not to be seen, as experience and history would show. It is not in the political DNA of many Romblon politicians to study and articulate the issues. Our elections are about fiesta, drunkenness, and patronage. It is about songs and dances; about who has the most colorful yard signs and tarpaulins; about who promises a most fantastic future; about who lulls the voters deepest to slumber. In fact, our elections are about describing to the voters what heaven looks like, but forgetting that they live daily on the coal fires of hell called poverty in the face of plenty and excess.

So we know some of the characters, the storylines, the plot, and most likely the outcome of the theater called May 10, 2010. The drama, or action, is more of the same. We have seen it before. Been there, done that. Many of us will still watch the spectacle out of curiosity, but not out of necessity.

As for this writer, I am not buying a ticket to the rehashed show. I have enough of our politicians’ ululation, slapstick comedy, and the tripping of each other to get to the spoils. Sure, I’ll be around, but I’ll be watching from afar, using a pair of binoculars that allows me to see things in clearer perspective.

In short, I will keep my sanity.