Tuesday, February 16, 2010

May 10, 2010 more of a referendum than an election

Now that the campaign for the May 10, 2010 national election is rolling on in earnest, we, the people, can already heave a sigh of relief.

We can rest easy because after years of speculation, gutter ‘tsismis’, armchair analysis, and political punditry, we are now into the time of mudslinging—for that’s how every election campaign in this country is, with very few exceptions.

We can sleep soundly for we now know who among the crop of self-styled ‘saviours’ are taking the risk of either getting 1) crucified as thief, or 2) crowned as king of our hapless banana republic.

That’s the beauty of a ‘buyang’, which what every Philippine election is like. After some time of ‘himas’ and ‘pakahig’ finally comes the time for ‘butaw’—the actual political combat. It is only then that we bet. Sa puya, sa puti. Hala, bira, as Ish Fabicon would always say.

Just like many voters, I am excited about the May 10, 2010 political showdown, but not in the sense that many may think. While other people are enervated by the candidates’ antics, I am more agitated by the issues that are crying out to be raised, but are not. While many are salivating over the short-term—and little—cash that candidates are handing out, like a parent to a crying child, I am more jumpy at the sight of candidates, say like former district engineer Rolindo Perez, treating us to the spectacle of their power-tripping. Perez, I heard, still goes around surrounded by ‘hired goons’ who are actually police officers. What more violation of the law can one ask?

Or, to the extreme irony that is Cong. Budoy Madrona. Well, what can one say about Budoy except to praise him for being a traditional survivor? Lest the readers misinterpret it, I’d like to salute Madrona for his political longevity, which my political antenna tells me may soon end at the twist of history. He might yet get waylaid by the unassuming Alice Fetalvero?

But I digress. I was saying that I am excited, not by the election per se, but by the way the election is shaping up to be. I now say with boldness: the May 10, 2010 election could end up not as an election in the truest sense of the word, but as a referendum of sorts.

Let me explain. You see, nine years of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is nine years the life of a cat drawn in an Eveready battery. Get it? It means long life. It means a cat has nine lives, so they say, and that nine is soon going to end. On May 10, 2010, I suppose.

Ahh. So, what does that mean?

To me, it means my suffering—and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Romblomanons—at the hands of an illegitimate administration may soon expire. End. Finish. Good riddance. You don’t have Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to kick around anymore. It means Bernie Fondevilla, who is by extension also an illegitimate undersecretary of agriculture, may no longer be seen around promising Romblomanons fishing vessels even if they are farmers by profession. Catch my drift?

Wait. Before we jump like chimpanzees, however, at the prospect of Gloria’s exit, let me tell you it’s going to be difficult. There’s an election coming and Jojo Beltran may still win. What I mean is that there’s still a referendum to happen before we can finally say, “Bye-bye, Budoy!”, “Paalam, Perez!”, or “Adios, Batman!” We, the people, need to win first before anything like that could happen.

And this is the problem. How do we, the people, win? Answer: make the election a referendum.

If I were managing Alice Fetalvero’s and Lolong Firmalo’s campaign, my tack would be to frame the election as a contest between good and evil—with Alice and Lolong as saints and Budoy et al as Lucifer’s hell’s angels.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not personal, for I am, human as everyone else, also imperfect. This is just me writing an opinion piece.

Nonetheless, there is more than logic in what I propose. Because of Romblon’s dire economic situation, Fetalvero and Firmalo should frame the debate in this election as a choice between right and wrong; between progressive and mediocre leadership; between honesty and thievery; between the restoration of hope and hopes dashed by unfulfilled promises; between practical intelligence and idiocy; and between the people-as-the-oppressed and the ruler-as-the-oppressor.

This election-as-referendum means explaining to the people the clear choices that they have to make and making them see the alternatives that are before them: honest governance versus capricious rule; integrity and honesty versus graft and corruption; accountability versus irresponsibility; people-first versus Budoy Muna sloganeering; and creative leadership versus unimaginative parochialism, even laziness.

If Alice and Lolong will never tire in going around with these messages, the chance is pretty huge that they will trounce Budoy. Nakakahilak rabuno si Perez ag si Jojo! Now, the three of them can hire and re-hire Damaso to lie for them. They can even continue sending feelers to the courageous Awe Eranes to buy him just to silence him. Awe Eranes? Mapaka-putak pa kina, hala.

There is more than enough basis to what I propose. Last year, I outlined the deteriorating economic life of the Romblomanons in a four-series article that appeared on this newspaper. I hoped then—as I continue to hope now—that ‘thinking’ Romblomanons will pick up from where I left off and do something.

Nobody did. The large majority of our people remain silent. So it came to pass that we are now on stage for yet another political extravaganza. We are now hearing the same traditional music of the traditional politicians and we, unfortunately, oblige to dance our traditional dances, without missing a bit of the missteps that precisely brought us to this very stage three years ago.

Now, let the dance begin.